River otters still living in South Lake | TahoeDailyTribune.com

River otters still living in South Lake

Two river otters, a species thought by many to be absent in Lake Tahoe, have been spotted near the Tahoe Keys community in the South Shore. Very few records of otters in the basin exist, and the limited amounts that do are old, according to the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit. However, South Lake Tahoe resident Bettina McIntyre said she's been lucky enough to observe a pair of the animals over the last couple years. They've been swimming, splashing and sliding in a lagoon near her Tahoe Keys home. "A lot of people don't know they live up here," McIntyre said, adding. "I think they're kind of cute." Otters have been known to exist in Lake Tahoe for many decades, although at one point the population was down to occurring only at Marlette Lake, according to Shay Zanetti, fish and wildlife biologist for LTBMU. Since then, they have been detected at Fallen Leaf Lake, the Bijou area of Lake Tahoe and Secret Harbor — in addition to the recent sighting in the Keys. "Very little is known about our otter population," Zanetti said in an email. "It has never been studied as far as I know, but appears to have never been abundant." With so few otters in the area, many locals have thought the animals to be nonexistent in the area. But the lack of sightings could reflect on the fact that otters are primarily nocturnal and likely avoid areas with human activity she said. Avoiding human contact may also be why McIntyre typically only sees her elusive neighbors during the spring. "They seem to disappear," she said. "It probably gets too active in the marina during summer." Otters are carnivores that feed on a variety of animals, including fish, snakes, birds, frogs, crawfish and other crustaceans. While limited data is available, Cheryl Millham, executive director and co-founder of Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care, Inc., believes the otters aren't harmful to the lake or native wildlife, and could actually help remove invasive species from the water. Mostly, all the otters want to do is play, Millham said, adding, "They are the clowns of the wildlife world." Humans, along with their canine pets, were probably the biggest factor in driving otters out of the basin, according to Millham. Sightings were common when she opened the care center about 36 years ago. However, the population since then seems to have declined significantly. She attributes this, in part, to dogs chasing the otters and killing them. "They live here if people just take care of their dogs and don't harass them when they see them," she said. Millham doesn't hear of otter sightings anymore at Lake Tahoe, not since McIntyre sent her a picture of one a few years ago. Before that, it had been 25 years since she heard of a sighting, when a motorist struck and killed one on Pioneer Trail. Now, Millham said the best thing people can do when they see an otter is to leave it alone. She urges people to keep their dogs on a leash, keep their distance and avoid feeding the animals. Otters aren't dangerous to humans or pets, she said. But humans and pets can be dangerous to otters. "They don't do anything," she said. "They've been here. This is one of their natural homes."

Viking swimmers stay undefeated in the pool

South Tahoe's boys and girls swim teams continued an undefeated season over Easter weekend. The teams each had dual meets Saturday against North Tahoe and Truckee high schools at Fernley. The girls beat Truckee 95-163 and North Tahoe 22-205. The boys beat Truckee 128-113 and North Tahoe 170-0 as the team didn't show up due to the holiday weekend. The next meet is a varsity invitational Saturday. Girls 200-yard medley relay: 1. Truckee (Kates, Burill, Straw, Percin) 2. South Tahoe (Tang, Smith, Tang, Albrecht) 3. South Tahoe (Stewart, Swain, Pennington, Cefalu) Boys 200-yard medley relay: 1. Fernley (Rodarte, Hamilton, Rodarte, Robertson) 2. South Tahoe (Marin, Barnett, McIntyre, Smith) 3. Fernley (Suarez, McManus, Adamson, Primeau) Girls 200-yard freestyle: 1. Craig (ST) 2. Albrecht (ST) 3. Smith (ST) Boys 200-yard freestyle: 1. McIntyre (ST) 2. Filce (ST) 3. Smith (ST) Girls 200-yard individual medley: 1. Straw (T) 2. L. Tang (ST) 3. Kates (T) Boys 200-yard individual medley: 1. Rodarte (T) 2. Marin (ST) 3. Piazzo (ST) Girls 50-yard freestyle: 1. K. Tang (ST) 2. Cefalu (ST) 3. Lyons (ST) Boys 50-yard freestyle: 1. Castillo (T) 2. Barnett (ST) 3. McKeen (T) Girls 100-yard butterfly: 1. Burill (T) 2. Albrecht (ST) 3. Craig (ST) Boys 100-yard butterfly: 1. Rodarte (T) 2. McIntyre (ST) 3. Robertson (T) Girls 100-yard freestyle: 1. Percin (T) 2. Cefalu (ST) 3. Stewart (ST) Boys 100-yard freestyle: 1. Rodarte (T) 2. Hamilton (T) 3. Smith (ST) Girls 500-yard freestyle: 1. Persin (T) 2. Burill (T) 3. Swain (ST) Boys 500-yard freestyle: 1. Robertson (T) 2. Peuse (ST) 3. Gronwald (ST) Girls 200-yard freestyle relay: 1. South Tahoe (Tang, Tang, Albrecht, Swain) 2. South Tahoe (Craig, Lyons, Wirth, Stewart) 3. Fernley (Hall, Lopez, Blake, Wheeler) Boys 200-yard freestyle relay: 1. Truckee (Hamilton, K. Rodarte, Robertson, M. Rodarte) 2. South Tahoe (Piazzo, Enkhbayer, Barnett, Filce) 3. Fernley (Kilbride, Adamson, Bittner, McManus) Girls 100-yard backstroke: 1. K. Tang (ST) 2. Kates (T) 3. Gladner (NT) Boys 100-yard backstroke: 1. M. Rodarte (T) 2. Marin (ST) 3. McKeen (T) Girls 100-yard breaststroke: 1. Straw (T) 2. L. Tang (ST) 3. Smith (ST) Boys 100-yard breaststroke: 1. Hamilton (T) 2. Peuse (ST) 3. McManus (F) Girls 400-yard freestyle relay: 1. Truckee (Burill, Straw, Kates, Percin) 2. South Tahoe (Craig, Cefalu, M. Pennington, Smith) 3. (O. Pennington, Lyons, Gronwald, Smith) Boys 400-yard freestyle relay: 1. South Tahoe (Marin, Peuse, Smith, McIntyre) 2. South Tahoe (Enkhbayer, Barnett, Jarrett, Gronwald)

Wildlife center opens doors on Sunday

Critters of Lake Tahoe including bears, owls, otters and eagles will be featured Sunday during a public open house at Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care center. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. community members will be able to access the back lot of the facility where the animals are kept and the general public is usually ordered to keep out, said Tom Millham, secretary/treasure of Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care. “This year will be exceptional in the fact that there are more species represented than usual at one time,” Millham said. The facility cares for and rehabilitates injured or orphaned wild animals from the Lake Tahoe region. Among the animals in cages are: two bear cubs, a river otter, a bobcat, 14 raccoons and seven great-horned owls. In addition, there is a golden eagle, three red-tailed hawks, a porcupine, nine California quail and numerous songbirds. Demonstrations on the rehab process will be featured every hour. Refreshments will be provided by local businesses. Now operating in its 27th year, Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care has cared for more than 15,000 wild birds and animals and has released more than 10,000 back to the wild. Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care is located at 1485 Cherry Hills Circle, off Elks Club Drive, just south of the Lake Tahoe Airport. For questions, call (530) 577-2273.

Wildlife Care opens its doors to public

Hundreds of wild-eyed animal lovers — both young and old — wandered the grounds and clinic of Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care Sunday for the center’s annual open house. Volunteers as young as 16 gave tours to offer a brief synopsis of the animals brought in and rehabilitated. The center now has three bobcats, three great-horned owls and a red-tail hawk, to name a few of its tenants. Many people gathered around an enclosure holding the Meyers rehabilitation center’s newest addition — a 4-month-old, 26-pound orphan cub picked up at Northstar-at-Tahoe over a week ago. But a river otter living in a complex built with a hot tub, horse trough with sliding tubes in between may have stolen the show that morning. The setup was designed by Cheryl Millham, who operates the center with her husband, Tom. Along with an occasional squeal from children, a few members of the BEAR League watched the Feather River critter play and gnaw away at a fish. Sometimes the otter would drop the fish out of the tank and struggle to retrieve it. “I wish I could hold it for her,” Fran Gerhardy said. As the otter ate, it made a coughing sound. “Oh, I hate it when that happens,” Pat Alameda of South Lake Tahoe said, believing the critter was choking on a bone. “I’m such an animal lover.” She wasn’t alone. Eight-month-old Nico Dellaripa perked up in the aviary when his father, Victor, introduced him to the hawk and an owl peeking around the corner at the passersby because he said the baby “loves birds.” “He’s been doing that all day,” volunteer Aria Benham said of the owl. A fawn feeding on grass in an open area played more peek-a-boo as it placed its eyes and nose up to holes in the fence as more visitors walked by. “They’re fun to feed. They play with you,” Benham told a group of children. “And when they’re younger, you can feel their spots (on their coat).” Kevin Balibrera also turned his visit into a family outing. His clan recognized the bandit face of a raccoon poking his head out in full view. Hope, 8, and Page, 10, spotted one in their Herbert Avenue back yard four days ago. “It kind of startled us. It was standing right there at the slider (door),” their mother, Patty, said. “We thought it looked hungry, but we didn’t feed it because we thought it would keep coming back and depending on us,” Kevin said. He said the family has supplied animals to the wildlife care center, counting at least eight occasions. The most recent involved a baby jay two weeks ago. “That’s why we donate to Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care. We know what they do out here,” he said. It’s the fifth year the facility has opened its gate to current and prospective donors. “The reason is mainly for the people who contribute to us to see where their money is going,” Tom Millham said.

Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care welcomes community for annual open house

Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care opens its doors to the public one day each year — on Sunday, July 30, the South Lake Tahoe community will once again have the opportunity to tour the grounds and learn about the animals the nonprofit currently hosts. In all, LTWC houses approximately 40-50 animals that can be seen at the event, which is held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. “As people get here they register, we give them a ticket and that’s their spot in line. If we have 10 people you’re not going to wait long. If we have 150, that’s about an hour. The past two years we had roughly 1,000 people come through in the six hours we were open,” LTWC founder Tom Millham said. Volunteers will guide visitors through a tour of the grounds, which includes sightings of bear cubs, hawks, raccoons, owls, river otters and more. While most animals will only be seen through live video feeds on a multitude of screens, guests will get to come within a few feet of LTWC’s one permanent care resident: Emma the bald eagle. “She’ll be on display all day near the river otter cage, and volunteers will be there to talk about how she came into our care and what’s going on with her,” Millham explained. Open house attendance is free, but donations are encouraged. Proceeds go toward supporting LTWC’s mission of raising, rehabilitating and releasing injured animals, along with funding the organization’s new site at 1551 Al Tahoe Blvd. Construction is roughly halfway finished, according to Millham. “All the underground work is now complete — meaning the piping for electrical, gas, telephone, video, sewer and water,” he noted. What remains is building the structures. “It’s a $7 million project. We had $3.5 million and now we’re working on the other $3.5 million. “The overwhelming majority of the $3.5 million is for the main caretaker building, which is also the hospital, store and boardroom,” Millham continued, adding that once funds are raised the project would take about one year to finish. LTWC has been in operation for 40 years. Learn more about the organization, which is located at 1485 Cherry Hills Circle, online at http://www.ltwc.org, on Facebook (@laketahoewildlifecare) or call 530-577-2273.

Wildlife Care has open house

The Lake Tahoe Wildlife Center will let the public take a peek at Tahoe creatures at an open house Sunday, July 28, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. “It’s an opportunity for people to see what happens behind (our) closed doors,” said co-owner Tom Millham. In all, a baby bear, a river otter, three bobcats, a redtail hawk, two raccoons, three owls, six ducks and other birds will be on display. Cake supplied by Harrah’s Lake Tahoe and punch from Burger King will be available. Open houses were previously scheduled earlier in the summer, but Millham decided to push back the date since cages were sparsely filled in June. “What we have now is almost every cage full,” he said.

South Tahoe High snaps 20 game losing streak

SPARKS — Reed High provided all of its fireworks by the end of an illuminating halftime show Friday, but it was South Tahoe that delivered the entertainment after intermission. The Vikings exploded for 28 unanswered points and five sacks in the second half as the school buried a 20-game losing streak that started in 2000. Senior running back Grant Swinney rushed for 208 yards and two scores in the final 24 minutes as the Vikings beat the Raiders in the nonleague football game, 35-7. Swinney rushed for a career-high 275 yards on 28 carries. “It was worth all of the hard work, for sure, to get this one win,” said senior defensive lineman Justin McIntyre, who recorded five sacks. When the final second ticked off the clock, the Vikings, enjoying the first varsity victory of their high school football careers, began a modest celebration of leaping and screaming near midfield before collectively raising their helmets. Supporters gave the Vikings two standing ovations before the players disappeared into the dressing room. “It’s outstanding. This is indicative of how they can play,” said STHS defensive coordinator Eric Beavers about the Vikings’ senior class sticking with the program during one of the worst stretches in school history. “I think a lot of people had written them off and had asked them why do you work hard, it’s not worth the effort. These guys battled through maybe hearing that from friends or the community or what have you and over the offseason they worked hard.” The last time the Vikings won was November 2000 in a playoff game against Galena. STHS was coached by Tim Jaureguito. Chris Morgan and Beavers followed as head coach but never had a victory. First-year head coach Todd McIntyre, who has seen more good than bad during his 15 years with the program, felt awful after a 42-38 home loss to Bishop to kick off the season. “We kept telling them, if you work this hard, you’ll win and they didn’t win. But it finally paid off,” McIntyre said. Following a halftime tribute to 9-11 victims complete with fireworks, Swinney and the offensive and defensive fronts brought emotion and intensity to the second half that the Raiders didn’t match. On the first play from scrimmage, Swinney made a nifty change of direction to break loose for a 65-yard run to the Reed 15. Reed held the Vikings to 2 yards on the next two plays, but junior quarterback Mikey Van Gorden connected on a 13-yard scoring pass to Justin Keys with 10 minutes, 51 seconds remaining in the quarter. Matt Bobman’s kick made it 14-7. “I don’t think we came out showing those guys any respect, knowing what we knew about them,” said Reed running back/receiver Ryan Lammle. “You can’t play one half and expect the other half just to fall into place. You have to make it happen.” After two runs, an incomplete pass and illegal motion penalty netted Reed minus 2 yards, Swinney and his busy legs dealt the Raiders another blow. First, Swinney used one of his patented cutbacks for a 13-yard gain to the Reed 41 and then burst through an enormous hole behind center on his way to a 41 yard TD run. “We said it all week long, this guy can run, he can cut back, you’ve got to keep him contained and obviously we didn’t,” said Reed coach Ernie Howren. Dazed from the Vikings’ two long runs in 3:49, the Raiders eschewed their productive running game for a passing attack that played right into the hands of the Vikings’ fierce pass rush. Junior linebacker Nick Garratt started the sack party by blindsiding quarterback Zack May for a 7-yard loss at the Reed 33. “The good thing is once we got on them, we didn’t look back, we kept going,” coach McIntyre said. Starting on their 29, the Vikings gave Reed a 1-2 punch of Swinney and Van Gorden for the knockout punch. Swinney darted for 38 yards and Van Gorden for 33, with Swinney taking it the final 18 yards for a 28-7 edge with 2:36 to go in the third quarter. “In a one-back set if you have a guy going for 200-plus yards, you have a front blocking and guys doing some good things,” McIntyre said. Early in the fourth quarter, the Vikings showed a pass rush that sent several disgruntled Reed fans to the parking lot. Kyle Jones, Justin McIntyre and Randy Henson sacked May on successive plays. The Vikings recorded eight sacks in all, including five by McIntyre. McIntyre now has eight sacks through two games. “I wouldn’t say they wanted it more. They just flat played better than we did,” Howren said. South Tahoe drove into Reed territory on three first-half possessions, but each one ended with a turnover. Sophomore linebacker Buck Pershing kept the Vikings from being shut out in the first half when he recovered a blocked punt in the end zone with 2:23 left in the first quarter. Reed (0-2) answered with its only touchdown following a Viking fumble midway through the second period. Jason Davis, who rushed for 113 first-half yards, slipped three tackles before breaking into the clear on his way to a 45-yard TD run. The Vikings, however, never let Davis get going after halftime, holding him to minus 2 yards. Reed attacked the Vikings head-on, seldom testing the perimeter of the Vikings’ defense that struggled against Bishop the week before. “I thought they would go after us a little more on the outside, but that’s not their game,” Beavers said. “Most teams are going to play their own game and do what they practice.”

Presentation on Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care to be held at library next month

Cheryl Millham, executive director and founder of Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care, will discuss the organization’s various wildlife encounters and rehabilitation efforts in 2007. The presentation will begin at 6:30 p.m. March 19 in the South Lake Tahoe Branch Library conference room, 1000 Rufus Allen Blvd. The program will include a presentation on the Angora fire, Mexican free-tail bats, rehabilitated bears cubs, a river otter and an “out of place” mountain lion. This free program is sponsored by the South Lake Tahoe Friends of the Library. Light refreshments will be provided. The library is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday. For more information, call (530) 573-3185.

Top Tahoe runner signs with Otters

Connor Henderson, has three state titles, two regionals and usually a comfortable 10-second cushion separating him from the pack, but he still doesn't know just how good he is. "He's untapped," said Dominique Westlake, Henderson's coach. "He has a whole other level that he can go to if he wants. Once he realizes how good he is that's when he'll go to the next level." Luckily, Cal State Monterey Bay realized. The South Tahoe cross-country runner signed with the Otters last week. The hardware he's pickup up during his last two years as a Viking helped him earn a partial scholarship to the Division II school. It's mind blowing to think Henderson hasn't reached his full potential yet. He blew away the competition at both regionals and state finals in the fall, outrunning some of the fastest kids in Northern Nevada by more than 10 seconds. Henderson torched a field of 52 elite runners at the state finals. He cruised in 13 seconds ahead of the nearest runner, averaging 5:22 per mile. It was nothing new. Henderson also won the state meet as a junior. In addition to the back-to-back state titles, Henderson helped lead the Vikings to a team state title in 2011. The list goes on. He claimed first at the Northern Division I-A Regional meet, 11 seconds in front of the second place runner. "He is probably the most gifted runner I have ever had the pleasure of coaching in 20 years," Westlake said. "I think if he gets around guys who push him to go to that next level you're going to see some incredible stuff come out of him in the next four years. We pushed him as hard as we could." Monterey coach Greg Rhines will take it from here. Rhines joined the Monterey cross-country program three seasons ago, and immediately started building up the Division II team. In the past three seasons, the cross-country team has reset the school record several times. The Otters also had a best-ever individual placing at the conference meet the last two seasons. "The men's team is young and restless, in a good way. They want more and are willing to work for it," Rhines said. "Connor is adding more speed up front, which will help the team stay in the mix in more competitive meets." It was coach Rhines, and the camaraderie of the team that convinced Henderson he was at home in Monterey. "I could just see myself going there, and I felt like I fit in," Henderson said. "All the team members were really nice and the coach was nice too." The feeling was mutual because it was more than just impressive running times that landed Henderson on the team. "Yes, fast times are important, and there is much more," Rhines said. "There is the student-athlete's commitment and dedication to their sport. Are they hungry? Do they talk about past races, future goals, and things to improve on? Do they know their times? These are some indicators for me. It's a package deal when you get a student-athlete. What's inside is all about what will come out."

‘Big Mac’ walks the walk as WAC preseason defender of year

From being unrecruited to being named one of the top college players in the country. Fresno State’s Garrett McIntyre is one of the true success stories in college football. McIntyre enjoyed tremendous personal success at South Tahoe High School, earning Defensive Player of the Year honors for Northern Nevada. Unfortunately, the recruiters didn’t find their way to South Lake Tahoe, not even the University of Nevada. “They (Nevada) didn’t recruit me at all,” said McIntyre who found out at the recent WAC Media Day in Reno that he was named the WAC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. “I never got a call. Maybe they thought I just wasn’t a good player. Our team wasn’t very good that year. It was disappointing.” McIntyre was welcomed as a walk-on at Fresno State, and the move turned out to be a great one. Through hard work, McIntyre played himself onto the depth chart as a true freshman, playing in 12 games and earning one start at defensive tackle. He had seven stops behind the line, sixth-best on the team, that year, and he got his first-ever college sack against Oregon, which he celebrated with a little dance. “My freshman year, I didn’t think I’d play,” he said. “Our first game that year was at Wisconsin. I wound up being third team on pass-rush situations. I was 17 and I was playing in front of 65,000. It was loud. “From then on (after that first sack), I knew I could do it; knew that I belonged.” It was the start of something big for McIntyre and the Bulldogs and McIntyre, who has improved dramatically each year. He’s coming off his best-season ever with 46 tackles, 10 1/2 of those behind the line, and seven sacks. He had some of his best games against the best teams in the country, which is always nice for your resume and scrapbook. In a 45-21 win over perennial powerhouse Kansas State, McIntyre had seven stops and helped hold KSU running back Darren Sproule to 37 yards rushing. He had a 10-tackle and two-sack effort in a 33-16 loss to Boise State. Those efforts resulted in being named one of the top 100 players in the game by ESPN.com, and The Sporting News ranked him fourth among defensive ends. “He’s an amazing player,” Fresno State coach Pat Hill said. “He’s wired differently from most players. He has a great motor that never stops.” He’s able to make plays because he never stops working, ala former 49er defensive tackle Pierce Holt, who had an effective five-year career for the 49ers as an undersized defensive tackle. McIntyre has been moved to defensive end this year in part because of the development of the Bulldogs’ two mammoth inside tackles Jason Sherley and Louis Leonard, and to take advantage of his quickness. “I wanted to do it (make the change),” McIntyre said. “I’ll still play some defensive tackle in certain third-down packages. It’s just different techniques (at end compared to tackle).” If McIntyre got seven sacks from the inside, it’s scary to think what he might be able to do rushing the passer from the outside. However, with all the preseason hype swirling around, it wouldn’t be surprising to see McIntyre double-teamed extensively on every play. Another thing that drives McIntyre is that he hates to lose a game or get beat on a play. Whether it’s football, grades or a video game, he wants to come out on top. The drive to be the best is what consumes him. “That’s one thing about me, I hate losing,” McIntyre said. “Anything I do at home, a video game. Losing for me is the worst.” A measure of a player’s greatness is what he does for the players around him. Hill said McIntyre has and does make his teammates better. “Garrett McIntyre is the type of player who makes everyone around him better,” Hill said. “People had to double him a lot last year. Moving him to end means he’s going to get a lot of attention, which should help the two big guys inside.” That will only make Fresno’s top-notch defense even better. Darrell Moody can be reached at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281 The McIntyre File Hometown: South Lake Tahoe Year: Senior Major: Construction Management Height: 6-3 Weight: 250