City endorses coyote education campaign |

City endorses coyote education campaign

Susan Wood

When Rene Smania’s young pup was mauled by a coyote last year in his South Lake Tahoe back yard, he was devastated. Hillary had a special personality that doesn’t come around every day in a yellow Labrador, but she had to be euthanized.

The healing continues as time rolls on – but so do the coyotes roaming the streets and eyeing his new puppies in the Tahoe Island Park neighborhood. Smania recently bought a caged pen for his dogs.

Through the spring months, the omnivores that feed off rodents and small animals have become more prevalent as they look for food for their young. For that, wildlife officials want to provide options and advice for residents seeking solace.

At the urging of wildlife advocate Cheryl Millham and California Tahoe Conservancy Wildlife Program Coordinator Adam Lewandowski, the South Lake Tahoe City Council on Tuesday endorsed a public education campaign to help residents live with the animals without killing them. The city did not pledge money for the project.

Millham brought a “roll guard,” the invention of a Santee, Calif., man that attaches to a fence at least 5 feet high. She also came armed with pepper spray and a loud, obnoxious audio program called “Rex” to keep predators away.

All are intended as humane ways to keep pets and property safe as well as the wild animal.

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“Sounds like a good idea,” Smania said upon seeing a picture of the “roller guard” product.

Thousands of coyotes are killed in the United States, a policy Millham insisted “isn’t working.”

She and Lewandowski proposed an educational effort that includes a community workshop, signs, mailers, hotline and a process to handle incidents with a hotline number.

For now, the two wildlife advocates agreed to use the Wildlife Care number – (530) 577-2273. And Lewandowski brought a centralized incident report the city may use and disburse as a way to track where the animals hang out.

Now, reports are scattered among Wildlife Care, CTC, Forest Service, county Animal Control, various homeowner associations and the USDA’s Wildlife Services Division. The latter will kill nuisance predators. But Lewandowski contends a centralized reporting system is necessary.

Like bears, coyotes are attracted to areas where trash is left out when no other food source presents itself.

Councilman Bill Crawford asked about the problem with vacation home rentals, and Millham said repeat offenders are warned by workers with Clean Tahoe, the city-El Dorado County cooperative service that picks up the trash.

City code requires bear-proof trash containers at newly constructed multi-family dwellings but not single-family units, Community Development Director Teri Jamin clarified.

“It’s time Lake Tahoe comes into the 21st century and cleans up its act,” Millham said, wrapping up her presentation to resounding applause.

Steps to deal with coyotes

— Never feed coyotes

— Keep all garbage in animal-proof containers

— Store pet food indoors

— Clean barbecue grills after use

— Close off potential den sites such as decks and porches

— Keep pets on a leash when walking them

— Supervise small pets when they are outdoors

— Keep coyotes at a distance