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Guest view: Apply common sense dealing with wildlife

Pat Martin

A detailed study on coyotes in California demonstrates how urbanized coyotes pose a threat to people. One recent letter to the editor falsely claimed there has never been a fatal coyote attack … maybe they should talk to the parents of a 3-year-old girl killed in Glendale, who died from massive bleeding and a broken neck after a suburban coyote attack. Additionally, 35 other attacks on small children in California had a high likelihood of serious injury or fatality had not the child been rescued. After the fatal attack, 55 coyotes were killed within a half-mile radius. That slaughter could have been prevented by selectively targeting bold, aggressive animals.

Some say that removing coyotes results in a bigger population … not true! Studies show that following removals, coyote populations return to pre-control levels.

Coyote attacks are increasing in California. There is a predictable sequence of changes in coyote behavior that indicates increased risk to human safety. These include more coyote sightings during the day, coyotes killing pets in the day or while on leashes in close proximity to their owners, and coyotes seen near children’s play areas or schools. This is happening right now on the South Shore. A dog was snatched from his fenced back yard in daylight. My sister-in-law’s dog was killed on his runner 10 yards from where she stood. Tahoe Valley Elementary School has seen coyotes during the day. I have heard that school activities had to be changed because of them.

Given the current situation, I believe a human attack is inevitable. We must remove the “suburban coyote” selectively, leaving behind those animals with appropriate fear of people. Once the attack occurs, all coyotes in the vicinity will be captured and destroyed, even those that don’t need to be killed. So all of you extremists think it through … do you want to rid our community of a few potentially dangerous animals, or destroy them all after someone’s child is injured or killed. You’ll have not only the blood of all those animals on your hands, but that of a human being as well.

An effective control strategy combines public educational programs with use of lethal removal only as a last resort. Most locals understand we must control our garbage and not feed wild animals, therefore the focus of education should be on tourists. We need top notch visitor’s centers that attract tourists. As part of that experience, give them the information needed to control animal behavior.

I suspect a similar process happens with bears. People who threaten and vandalize a woman trying to protect herself from a potentially dangerous bear are narrow-minded zealots. I have an empty rental across the river from Mrs. Mosbacher. A bear (maybe the same one) smashed through a window, ransacking the house. There was not a scrap of food inside. IT WAS EMPTY! That bear needs to be removed. People should focus more on how to humanely remove these bears and less on harassing citizens concerned about their pets, property, and safety.

– Pat Martin is a South Lake Tahoe resident, and member of the Citizen’s Alliance for Responsible Government.


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