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Joplin police ask for help in stopping nature center vandalism - KOAM TV 7

Joplin police ask for help in stopping nature center vandalism

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Bird houses with bent poles Bird houses with bent poles
Roundabout with large stone toppled over Roundabout with large stone toppled over
Joplin, MO -

Joplin police are asking for your help to stop vandalism at a nature center.  If you've been on the many trails at Joplin's Wildcat Glades, you've probably seen graffiti.  It's been something all five of the nature center workers have been trying to combat for some time now.  Well now, workers say the vandalism has gone to another level.

You've probably heard the saying leave nature the same as, if not better than, when you found it.  Nature is something's home.

"The birds, the squirrels, the deer," says Noel Holland.

Those are what Holland and her friend, Sheree, enjoy watching while exercising on the many trails at the Wildcat Glades nature center.  But over the past three weeks, it appears some humans haven't been good guests in nature's homes.

"It's so senseless," says Wildcat Glades Director Donna Whitehead.

Whitehead says several birdhouses on strong metal poles were taken down, the poles bent considerably.  Whitehead says it's a good thing the types of birds that use these houses are elsewhere for the time being.

"These three bird houses are part of our study that we're doing in an international study.  Luckily, at this time of year, there aren't any birds in those houses.  They've already migrated.  But if it would happen during the count time, it would make a significant difference to an endangered species," says Whitehead.

Several trail signs have either been damaged or stolen.

Then came damage to a roundabout at the nature center's entrance, with a large stone toppled over.  Nature center workers say there's evidence a semi-truck tried to use the roundabout as a turn-around.

"But at least they should have notified us and helped us get it repaired," says Whitehead.

Whitehead says all of the repairs are taking a chunk not only out of the non-profit nature center's budget, but also worker resources that could otherwise be devoted towards caring for nature, instead of cleaning up after vandalism.

No arrests have been made yet.  Police are asking for people to call-in anything suspicious.

"Police are dependent on the public to provide them information, a lot of times, on these crimes," says Corporal Chuck Niess with the Joplin Police Department.

"Now that you've said that, every time I come out here to run, I'm going to be watching," says Holland.

Nature center workers want to remind people that the trails are still safe for people to use.  Workers just want visitors to be extra vigilant.

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