Coyote cruelty claim unfounded |

Coyote cruelty claim unfounded

An investigation into the alleged dragging death of a coyote at South Shore’s Truckee Marsh has been canceled.

“We’ve investigated and interviewed the eyewitnesses,” said Robert Gerat, El Dorado County senior animal control officer. “Their stories seem to change and no evidence whatsoever has been found.”

Animal Control officers launched the investigation in early July after an area resident reported seeing a cattle hand on horseback rope a coyote around the neck and drag it to its death.

Doyle Harris, who owns a home on the edge of the Truckee Marsh, said he saw the incident from his back deck.

“It was like a rag doll,” Harris said days after the incident. “My wife went hysterical and there were about four or five kids staying in the house next door and we started screaming for him to stop – I don’t know if he could hear us.”

Harris said he searched the meadow for about an hour but never found the coyote’s body.

A search by the Animal Control officers also was futile.

“No dead coyote was ever seen in the meadow,” Gerat said. “This case is closed pending further information.”

The 313-acre lakefront meadow property is owned by 93-year-old Alva Barton.

The Bartons, who have raised beef cattle on their Truckee Marsh property for more than 70 years, contend that the young cowboy roped and dragged a log, which may have resembled a coyote from a distance.

“The coyotes don’t really bother the calves once they get to a certain size,” said Bill Mosher, of the Barton family. “The coyotes aren’t the problem. It’s the loose dogs that chase the cattle.”

For that reason, the Bartons have posted no trespassing signs along their meadow. The notices have created a tension between the private property owners and the public, Mosher said.

“They’ve been disrespectful of private property rights,” Mosher said. “It’s amazing what people will say when they want to get you.”

The Bartons recently agreed to sell the meadow to the California Tahoe Conservancy at the appraised value of $10 million. Escrow is expected to close this fall. Until then, the property will remain closed to public use. Conservancy staff said, once the property is turned over to the state agency, it will have to carefully study the possible effects of visitation before it opens the newly acquired property to public use.

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