Madison City school system addresses littering by students at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge

Students from Bob Jones and James Clemens high schools participated in their homecoming tradition, "Egg Wars," on a national wildlife refuge.

Posted: Sep 13, 2019 6:43 PM
Updated: Sep 13, 2019 6:46 PM

The Madison City Schools system is responding to the littering on the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge done by students.

It's a homecoming tradition, called "Egg Wars," that caused the refuge to be a mess. It's not only bad for the wildlife, it's a federal crime.

WAAY 31 talked to the law enforcement officer at the park who responded and he has an urgent message for all students who were there.

Jason Vehrs is the Federal Wildlife Officer at the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge and wants all of the eggs cleaned up. 

"Pick up all those eggs. They're still in the road. They're still in the environment there. The place smells very badly, so the right thing to do would be to go back and finish picking up everything that's left," he said.

He said the students already cleaned up the cartons and other trash they left behind, but not the eggs.

Officer Vehrs responded on Wednesday night to the event, where he encountered more than 100 students from Bob Jones and James Clemens high schools. He said their vehicles were in the park that night and were blocking some of the roads for other visitors. 

Ben Mooney was on his bike that night in the park, and he said he saw students running in the area.

"I'm all about kids having fun, but on the refuge where traffic is limited and such because of animals and wildlife, it's probably not a good idea to be throwing a bunch of eggs out there and then leave the Styrofoam and cardboard containers behind," Mooney said.

Officer Vehrs said he wanted the students to learn from the moment. Instead of charging them, he asked them to clean up the cartons, eggs and trash. He also said littering on federal land would have costed them heavy fines.

"A simple fine could range from $130 to over $500, minimally. These are all federal violations and they carry fines and or jail time," Officer Vehrs said.

Madison City Schools said the Bob Jones principal talked with students about the consequences of their behavior and said they did return early Thursday morning to clean up some of their mess.

Unfortunately, there are still a lot of eggs rotting in the summer heat.

"They were all like, 'Oh, it's biodegradable...All eggs are biodegradable!' Still, doesn't help with the smell," Mooney said.

Officer Vehrs said students stayed after dark to clean up some of their trash. He is now expecting students to go back and clean up the rest of it.

Superintendent Robby Parker said he does not condone the behavior. He says he was unaware the officer wanted students to clean up the eggs and says he will send them back to do it.

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