Phelps County landowner and hunter Jerry Laster spent several hours with his son, Bobby, cleaning brush from around a pond on the family’s farm north of St. James one day earlier this month.

They heard some noise in the brush but didn’t think about it. Who would? It’s the rural countryside, shared with plenty of wildlife. It could have been a raccoon, a deer, a possum, or all of them—nothing to worry about.