June 28-July 4, 2006

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By Patricia Lynn Henley

Lions, Coyotes, Oh My

North Bay residents living or recreating near open spaces need to be aware they're sharing that habitat with a wide range of species, including coyotes and mountain lions. "People do forget that we live in a wild area," says Sheri Cardo, spokesperson for the Marin Humane Society. A Windsor couple who live on an acre just south of the city limits recently awoke to the tumult of their dogs barking amid loud crashing noises. An approximately 70-pound juvenile mountain lion apparently entered their sun room through a screen door. The cougar's presence woke the couple's three small dogs, who were sleeping in the sun room, and their Labrador retriever, who was outside. Alarmed, the big cat was leaping against the room's glass walls, attempting to escape. Eventually, the cougar burst through the screen door and ran away. In a separate incident, a Mill Valley family living next to Horse Hill open space area suspect their 15-year-old tabby fell victim to one of the coyotes spotted roaming the neighborhood. Only the cat's paw was found. Although no recent sightings have been reported in Napa County, it is also home to free-ranging predators. Most mountain lions and coyotes prefer to stay away from humans, but people inadvertently entice them closer, Cardo says. Coyotes eat rodents; rodents eat pet food left outside or fruit fallen under trees; and coyotes follow the rodents. "Coyotes serve a vital role in our ecosystem, so we need to learn with them, but we don't want to habituate them to humans," Cardo says. "We want to keep our wildlife wild." No food should be left outdoors, and downed fruit must be cleaned up. Garbage can lids need to be secured. Pets, especially small ones, should only be outside if they're watched by humans.

Climate Concerns

Get an overview of Sonoma County's progress toward protecting local and global climate conditions at the second annual Climate Protection Conference, July 14, in Rohnert Park. "Sonoma County has set the boldest community greenhouse gas-emission-reduction target in the nation. How are we going to do that? Only by working together," says Ann Hancock the Climate Protection Organization. Linda Adams, the new head of the California Environmental Protection Agency, will be the keynote speaker in a lineup that includes local politicians, water officials, PG&E representatives, farmers, business executives and more. "I still haven't given up hope that Gov. Schwarzenegger is going to show up. We invited him," Hancock adds. Admission is $30 and the registration deadline is June 30. Call Mary Ellen Lazzarini at 707.543.3351.

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