A Bird Sanctuary
Section IV Paragraph 2 of the River Walk Covenants states:
“The property within the subdivision is hereby declared to be a bird sanctuary and any hunting of any wild birds is hereby prohibited.”
So what does that mean? The state of South Carolina in its code of laws has designated as bird sanctuaries many places in the state.
SECTION 50-11-860. Department to designate and establish sanctuaries; agreements with landowners.
The department, without any costs whatsoever to the State, shall designate and establish sanctuaries where game, birds, and animals may breed unmolested, if any landowner enters into an agreement with the department to set aside and turn over to the State for that purpose a certain number of acres of land. There may be no hunting or trespassing upon these lands so designated as a sanctuary by anyone for five years from the date of the agreement. The department may post those lands so designated as a sanctuary in the name of the State and prosecute any persons hunting or trespassing on the lands. Any agreement entered into under authority given in this section may be terminated at any time by the landowner and the department.
The law lists numerous places and designates them as bird sanctuaries. But River Walk is not one of them. No matter. It has designated itself a bird sanctuary and in any event, it is against the law to shoot most birds in or out of River Walk.
Beautiful herons make their home in River Walk making good use of Gilder Creek. Owls can often be heard as well as seen. And of course there are deer.
But there is one kind of animal in River Walk and surrounding areas that is neither native to this area or welcome. Coyotes. There is a persistent urban legend that SCDNR (South Carolina Department of Natural Resources) released coyotes into the state to control the deer population. SCDNR strongly denies this and points out it doesn’t make any sense. Coyotes first appeared in the Upstate in the late 1970s when SCDNR was trying to restock deer in the Upstate. Coyotes were illegally imported into South Carolina for hound running, according to SCDNR. Natural eastern expansion also led to an increase in the Palmetto State’s coyote population.
Coyotes are too small to be a threat to humans, except very small children. But pets, especially cats are unfortunately regularly killed by coyotes.
Another animal that you may not see but is living here is the bobcat. A bobcat is about twice the size of a house cat. Bobcats rarely attack humans but if one does, it is probably rabid so do whatever you can to defend yourself in the unlikely event you are attacked.
What you won’t find here in River Walk, or anywhere else in the Upstate is a Puma. Other names for the same animal are: Cougars, Mountain Lions and Panthers. People who believe these big cats are living here are very persistent in their belief despite SCDNR’s insistence that there is no established population here. Most sightings are probably mistaken identity. It’s possible that someone collecting large cats illegally could have released one or more but if so, they wouldn’t last long. Cougars will venture into populated areas and would be quickly killed by cars as they routinely are in California where they actually do live. Nonetheless, be prepared to meet people who will tell you of “frequent sightings”, post pictures (which are actually taken elsewhere) and are very convinced that Mountain Lions are roaming the Upstate. They aren’t.