With summer approaching and hikers and recreationalists out in the beautiful areas of the mountains of Lincoln County, be alert at things that look to be a little out of place.

Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee notes that hikers have in the past come across illegal marijuana grows in remote areas in the mountains in the county. No place is out of the possibility that a marijuana grow could be cultivated there, Lee says.

While the past few years have uncovered only a few of these illegal grows, some of fairly considerable size, possibly due to the effective work of law enforcement and tips provided by the public, that doesn’t now mean Lincoln County has ceased to be a popular place for others to try. “If they do come to the county, they are getting smarter about it and hiding them better,” said Lee. “At the same time, some growers are going elsewhere, to somewhere less proactive, because we have been quite successful.”

At the present time Lee said the Sheriff’s department has no credible leads on any actual activities in a certain location. “It’s just barely the beginning of the season.”

What hikers and anyone going out in the mountains are to be watchful for, as Lee has advised in the past, are signs of activities in areas that would be out of the ordinary, vehicles that might be parked in unusual or normally out of the way places or irrigation piping that might be in an unusual place. And if you should actually come across a marijuana grow, take note of the coordinates, leave the area immediately and notify local authorities. Those who cultivate and guard the grows have been known to be armed.

Recent studies and published reports by authorities in other states, California in particular, have shown that illegal marijuana grows can be highly dangerous to fish and a wide range of animals.

Illegal marijuana cultivation on public lands is widespread, and some growers apply large quantities of numerous pesticides to deter a wide range of animals and insects from encroaching on their crops. While the exposure of wildlife to rodenticides and insecticides near agricultural fields is not uncommon, the amount and variety of poisons found at the illegal marijuana plots is a new threat.

According to co-author PSW wildlife biologist Kathryn Purcell, “exposure of wildlife to pesticides has been widely documented, but this is a fundamentally different scenario.

“In marijuana cultivation sites, regulations regarding proper use of pesticides are completely ignored and multiple compounds are used to target any and all threats to the crop, including compounds illegal in the U.S.,” she said.