4/24/2014

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Old military bombs in desert could explode

Old military bombs in desert could explode
BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - KBOI 2News reporter Adam Behrman and his wife Jessica were hiking off-trail at Bruneau Dunes State Park when suddenly they came upon about a dozen bombs.

Not being an explosives expert, Adam just took some pictures and left the bombs alone. It turns out they were practice bombs from the 1940s or 1950s, nothing explosive.

But, surprisingly, there are plenty of bombs still out in the desert just waiting to explode.

"You'll find 50 caliber machine gun belts still linked, bullets, and they are all live. They usually have '42, '43, '44 dates on them and they're from the B-17s and B-24s that were practicing from this area," says Ken Swanson, Executive Director of the Idaho Military History Museum.

Planes from Mountain Home Air Force Base used BLM land for target practice in the 1940s and 1950s and to a lesser extent, still do today. About 95 percent of what they drop is not explosive, but the other five percent is. Would you want to chance it?

There is still tons of ordnance out in the desert, some of which is still live ammunition and could explode. So if you come across it, your best bet is to leave it alone.

The air force also has a clean-up team, but with over 60 years of target practice, it is impossible for them to find everything. Even if you come across an inert bomb, do not take it home because it is technically federal property on federal land.

"They've never relinquished ownership of that material, the Federal Government, so yeah, you can be charged with stealing federal property by taking it from federal lands...or blown up...either one," says Swanson.

if you find something that you think is a military bomb, you should leave it alone, note its position if you have a GPS, and call 911.
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