Letter to the editor: Wildlife Care
I cannot sit idly by without providing some factual perspective concerning the article published on April 18 relating to Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care.
The article states that the Millhams have not received a complaint in the nearly 20 years the rehabilitation center has been operated from its current location. Mrs. Millham is directly quoted as saying, “Our neighbor doesn’t want bears here. He built a house there last summer and now he’s trying to curtail our activity. If he gets to the neighbors and convinces them these bears are dangerous, he could close us down …”
The suggestion that this issue has arisen as a result of one neighbor is patently false. A review of the documents relating to the Special Use Permit issued to Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care in 1986 reveals significant opposition to this use being allowed in the center of a residential neighborhood in the first place. At that time neighbors expressed concern that the Millhams had previously ignored correspondence from the county concerning code violations. A document submitted by the neighbors concerning this use permit states, “The Millhams, by not complying with your correspondence, have demonstrated that they have little if any respect for laws or neighbors.”
It is ironic that in 1992, I worked closely with Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care to obtain grant funding on their behalf. This particular grant would have funded purchase of the three vacant lots surrounding the Millham’s property to ensure that a buffer zone was created and that no new houses would be constructed on the parcels, all at absolutely no cost to Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care. This grant was to have satisfied a mitigation measure the Millhams themselves proposed and agreed to complete when the 1986 Special Use Permit was approved by the county.
Just when the grant was ready for final approvals, Tom Millham advised me that they no longer wanted the grant. I was completely dumbfounded. When I asked Tom why he no longer wanted to pursue the grant, he stated they wanted the ability to place additional cages and structures on the properties to be acquired and the grant would not allow that. I reminded him that the conditions of the Special Use Permit would not allow expansion of the use in that manner, and he simply dismissed what I was saying. On that basis, I subsequently withdrew the grant application.
As a former board member of a local nonprofit organization, I believe it was irresponsible for Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care to have proceeded with construction of the bear enclosure using $30,000 in donated funds without first obtaining the required permits. Their actions have put at risk the hard-earned money of their donors.
It is unfortunate that this issue had unfolded in the press as opposed to the appropriate public hearing process. The bottom line is that if Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care has in fact acted as a good neighbor over the course of the past several years, they should not be concerned that the newest neighbor on the block will be able to unduly influence the other neighbors in the area.
(John McDougall’s sister)
South Lake Tahoe
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