Vandalism at Carlsbad Reserve Prompts Increased Patrols

State wildlife officers are trying to catch the suspected vandals who are damaging signs and destroying trails at the Carlsbad Highlands Ecological Reserve.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) said it’s seeing vandalism at the park almost daily, causing major damage to the sensitive habitat.

“It kind of makes me salty about the whole situation. I just don’t understand why everyone just can’t care and be together,” said Carlsbad resident Sean O’Connell.

CDFW posted a picture on Facebook Friday that showed a wooden sign at the reserve knocked down.

Over the years, more than 500 signs that mark the reserve’s boundaries have been stolen or destroyed, according to CDFW.

Hikers told NBC 7 that walkers and mountain bike riders usually share the trails peacefully. Neighbors claimed that some of the people who are riding illegally use the park in the evening.

In response, CDWF officers have launched stepped-up enforcement efforts.

CDFW said most of the mountain biking community is respectful, but a few bad riders are damaging trails and putting the pristine and sensitive habitat at risk.

“Everyone has to do their part to maintain the niceness of the reserve,” O’Connell said.

The habitat damage is estimated to reach 12.5 acres of the 473-acre state ecological reserve.

CDFW cited 17 miles of illegal trails that formed an extensive system throughout the reserve, which at one time was a contiguous block of undisturbed habitat.

Damage to the reserve may result in a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail, CDFW said.

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