Sailor Vounteers to Help Base Environment

Story Number: NNS080923-25Release Date: 9/23/2008 6:12:00 PM
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By Army Sgt. 1st Class Vaughn Larson, Joint Task Force Guantanamo Public Affairs

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba (NNS) -- A Sailor from Guantanamo Bay volunteers to combat a base nuisance and improve the environment.

Master-at-Arms (MA) 2nd Class Corey Becherer, also a senior non-commissioned officer in the Camp America commandant's office, volunteers up to 15 hours each week helping Bremcor's environmental control office with Hutia population control and monitoring.

"I like the outdoors," he explained. "A lot of people complain about banana rats, so I thought I'd take it upon myself to help."

Becherer is part of a team led by Bremcor's Mark Massa that scours U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo, from the fence lines to housing areas and beach access roads, in search of Hutia colonies that have grown large enough to damage the habitat. Hutia can strip trees of leaves and damage undergrowth, Becherer explained.

"That's why you see all those trees that are dying," he said, and why dirt washes onto roads after a rain.

When overpopulated Hutia colonies are identified, the population control team uses pellet guns or .22 caliber weapons to reduce the colony. The team coordinates with base security, informing the master-at-arms of where they will be, who is participating and what weapons are being used.

Becherer has volunteered for this duty since January, and in that time he has learned how Hutias live and breed, and their life expectancy. He said he has seen an improvement in the Hutia population until recently, when the team took a break.

"I'm starting to see a lot of Hutias around," he acknowledged. "[It's time to] start up again."

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