August 10, 2007
The Villages proposed bow and arrow deer hunt set to begin last Monday, Aug. 6, was dropped after a week’s worth of negative publicity.
Much of the hoopla surrounding the proposed plan for reducing the deer population that management complained were eating $10,000 worth of landscape a month, dealt with the method of what some people termed was an “inhumane and barbaric” way to thin the herd.
Instead, the Villages has hired the Little Blue Society, a non-profit group in Redwood City whose “mission is to create an appreciation for the interdependence of human and animal life in a sustainable world, and to facilitate mutually beneficial human and animal interaction, especially in urban and marine environments. We are dedicated to the recognition of environmental sustainability as the fundamental tenant of an enlightened public interest,” according to its Web site.
The commotion from news reports sent the retirement community’s boards of directors and managers looking for a different solution. The initial decision to thin the herd by killing eight deer with bows and arrows created an uproar in which acting General Manager Steve Loupe complained he was struggling to do his job because of the steady flow of phone calls.
Loupe told the Times that residents’ complaints that deer were eating plants initially prompted management to work with California’s Fish and Game Department, which according to Loupe and to state biologist Jennifer DeWald, did an extensive study to determine the best method of eliminating the deer from the area. The proposed plan, which had been recommended by Fish and Game at other times and for other locations, is deemed the least stressful for the herd (see Evergreen Times, July 27, issue).
Other suggested solutions, such as moving or relocating the deer, were turned down because of the cost and because it could potentially harm more deer since they would not be familiar with predators in the new areas.
The Little Blue Society spent two days last week on a site evaluation that they completed on Aug. 9. They are currently putting together a presentation for the boards for next week.
"We plan to present our findings and discuss a solution," said Mary Paglieri, the president and CEO of the Little Blue Society. "The idea is to tweak the environment in such a way that the deer won't eat the vegetation around people's homes. The deer population will remain stable," but by changing the food supply the deer will not venture near the homes, she added.
In a press release issued July 31 by Villages management, after the association and club governing boards met with residents at their regular monthly board meetings, management explained that they had “received additional expert information on the problem.”
The information came from the Little Blue Society, which has “a great deal of experience with wildlife and a history of solving similar problems for many entities including the city of San Jose.”
In a private meeting held July 31, the group offered Villages’ management and various boards a presentation on non-lethal methods of eliminating the deer. The Villages “hired them to conduct a study and submit a report with possible solutions for a long range plan. When their report is ready, it will be carefully studied by both the association and club boards to determine the next step to provide a safer place for both the residents and the deer,” the release stated.
Calls placed to Loupe were not returned at press time.
The society, according to its Web site, has offered an alternative proposition to control the level of deer damage to the Villages property, which totals about 1,000 acres. The new proposal offers a solution that would “naturally reduce their [deer] population over a period of several years.”
“The [Villages] board members were quite receptive to our proposal. They were pleased there were other intelligent, ecologically sound alternatives available that would permanently resolve the conflict with deer at the Villages,” the society further stated on its Web site.
Since that meeting, the society conducted a two-day site evaluation and is in the process of developing a program offering short and long-term solution. The society expects to present the solution to both of the boards in the near future.
September 15, 2004 Los Gatos, California Since 1881
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Town agrees that coyotes can be trapped
By Grant Shellen
Los Gatos may soon get a little relief from the coyotes that are killing pets, howling through the night and worrying residents.
Personnel from the Santa Clara County Vector Control District would not use rubber leg-hold traps to catch problem coyotes, believing them to be prohibited under Los Gatos town code. But the town council agreed Sept. 7 that the code does not forbid their use by government agencies when animals present a public-safety risk.
In 1994, the town adopted a section of code barring the use of steel traps as defined in a section of California Fish and Game code. Four years later, the state added a section prohibiting the use of any leg-hold trap except by government employees when human health and safety are at stake.
Mike Phillips, wildlife technician with the vector control district, previously said that the town code still prohibited use of the traps by not referencing the newer section.
Town Attorney Orry Korb said at the Tuesday night meeting that the town code did not specifically bar their use and thus could be used in emergency situations by government personnel. He said the town could send a letter to the vector control district if the council agreed with that interpretation.
Community members spoke to the council about their recent encounters with coyotes. Some said their neighbors have lost pet cats and dogs. Others have found remnants of those lost pets and other wild animals such as deer. Vector control personnel have also found that several of the animals have heartworm, mange and other health problems.
One man said he fears that his dog could be harmed if it comes in contact with a coyote.
"These coyotes are a nuisance," said Francis Oaks Way resident Jim Dunlay. "They're a hazard. They have to be removed."
Mary Paglieri, who runs a nonprofit organization that attempts to resolve human-animal conflicts, also spoke. She said changing the behavior of coyotes is more effective than simply catching and euthanizing them.
"If what is attracting them into the area is not addressed, the problem will go on," Paglieri said.
She advised residents of the area where coyotes are appearing to keep garbage cans tightly closed, leave pet food and small pets indoors and take other steps to eliminate food sources for the animals.
Council members, however, said that immediate action was needed before a child or even an adult is injured. They suggested that residents follow Paglieri's advice about eliminating potential food sources, but said there was imminent danger that needed to be addressed. Since the coyotes have become aggressive with local pets and humans, those that are causing problems should be eliminated, they said.
A man who lives on Greenridge Terrace said he and his wife now fear for the safety of their 5 1/2-year-old son. Hamal Mahtalia said he has been a vegetarian since birth and his religion requires him to respect all animals, but that the coyotes need to be eliminated.
"I just got my son interested in looking up at the stars," he said. "Now, by about 6 o'clock, we have him locked up inside. I would like to work with nature, but now this is a problem."
The council unanimously agreed to send a letter to the vector control district clarifying that the town code does not prohibit rubber leg-hold traps.
The following day, Phillips said the district would monitor the approximately seven coyotes that have been seen near homes. If necessary, they will likely set traps for the three that have been most aggressive in the coming weeks.
October 28, 2004 San Jose, California Since 2003
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Coyote-trapping ordinance fails again to win council's approval
By Sandy Brundage
Three weeks ago the San Jose City Council voted by a narrow margin not to allow emergency trapping of coyotes in the Villas of Almaden gated community. During the Oct. 26 council meeting, the oddly resurrected motion failed again, by a larger margin: This time, five council members voted against lifting the ban and six voted for it.
The motion needed at least eight "yea" votes to pass.
Council members Ken Yeager, Linda LeZotte, Terry Gregory, Forrest Williams and Nora Campos voted no.
"I don't think we've done enough to exhaust other options," said LeZotte, echoing the same concerns expressed by the other naysayers. "It's shortsighted. It'll give you a false sense of security. I really believe that."
She also wondered aloud how the issue had reappeared on the agenda without a motion to reconsider. City Attorney Rick Doyle said that a new letter from California Fish & Game officials constituted enough new information for the issue to be re-evaluated anyway.
"I accept that explanation, but I don't necessarily agree. It concerns me that there are ways around voting on something more than once. It's astounding to me what's on our agenda," said LeZotte.
Cries of dismay were heard from the residents of the Villas of Almaden in council chambers after the vote. The Villas of Almaden is a 192-home gated community at Coleman Road and Meridian Avenue. Residents have been complaining of aggressive coyote behavior, such as stalking people who are out walking dogs.
Several cats, allowed to roam the neighborhood, have also been killed.
Vice Mayor Pat Dando, who represents District 10 in which the Villas sits, insisted that the residents of the Villas have been taking proactive steps to solve the problem—such as removing compost sites—and argued that traps were needed now to save human lives. Santa Clara County Vector Control concurred, she said.
"It should go without saying that people are important, too," Dando said. "No one up here today would say that animals aren't important. There isn't anyone up here who would take lightly the actions I hope you will take today. But I have to repeat again, people are important, too."
However, Little Blue Society, a nonprofit consultant group hired by the city to solve the coyote problem, said residents as recently as Oct. 18 were still not removing all possible food sources, such as birdseed, and were not keeping their cats inside.
Fifteen of the 28 speakers at the meeting spoke against killing the coyotes. Wildlife experts testified that trapping the current pack of five coyotes would only exacerbate the problem down the road as new packs return to the neighborhood.
Mary Paglieri, director of the Little Blue Society, said at the meeting that despite offering a free educational program to the residents, the consultants were denied access to the community.
Although the emergency trapping ordinance failed, the council did take some steps toward resolving the problem. It unanimously passed a ban against feeding certain types of wildlife—including deer; directed city staff to work with Villas residents and the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley on a long-term prevention program; and asked that dog-leash signs be posted at nearby parks to prevent off-leash dogs from chasing deer out of the parks into neighborhoods.