The information below was crafted from a message
sent May 24, 2020, by John Roney, the park manager
for Sugarloaf Ridge State Park (Operated by Sonoma Ecology Center and Team
Sugarloaf in partnership with California State Parks). John’s message was sent after
residents on Cavedale Road posted pictures of a bear on various properties
along Cavedale. It quickly became relevant to residents of Diamond A with bear
sightings shortly thereafter reported at the Westerbeke Ranch, 3745 Grove, 6150
Grove, and in Jack London State Park
Over the past few years, bears have moved into the Mayacamas, and are now becoming a regular neighbor of our wildlands. They are more visible during May, June, & July when juvenile bears disperse. This means that young bears move away from their mothers and seek their own home range. They look for a safe place to set up shelter and occasionally, when they’re wandering to find a new home, they get mixed up with all of our human garbage collections and see them as food resources.
You can help these dispersing bears and us, humans, by making sure they don’t get habituated to our food/garbage that may surround them.
What You Can Do
1. Trash, pet food, bird feeders, beehives, BBQs, and compost are very attractive to bears. Please do not leave these food sources out. When possible, put garbage cans out on the morning of pickup, not the night before.
2. Use noise to deter bears when they approach your house or other attractants on your property. Pots and pans, whistles, car horns, air horns, and yelling can do the trick.
For more information please go to www.beingwithbears.org the website of the North Bay Bear Collaborative, a local group working to keep our bears wild, our residents and property safe, and our environment natural.
Coyotes are frequently seen in Diamond A. Since over one half of Diamond A abuts thousands of acres of the sort of undeveloped ranch land that has been a natural home for coyotes for centuries, we should not be surprised. In response to concerns triggered by a number of sightings (in daylight as well as at night), Leslie Kraynak created a document (Understanding coyotes - suitable for printing) with timely advice regarding coyotes.
DANA Board members also conducted a brief survey of available educational resources and found the following to be both helpful and relevant.
The department maintains a Wildlife Incident Reporting (WIR) system that enables a public user to report an observation involving species of interest to the Department of Fish and Wildlife.( https://apps.wildlife.ca.gov/wir). The Wildlife Incident Reporting (WIR) System facilitates the assignment of a designated “Investigator” based on the geographic location of the wildlife incident reported. The Investigator may be a Department Biologist or Wildlife Officer (warden) who will receive general notification by email of an assigned WIR incident. If you believe that some governmental agency should take action about a coyote (or a group of coyotes) in Diamond A, filing a Wildlife Incident Report should be your first step.
This site includes a step-wise approach to helping neighbors become aware of how to deal with coyotes in an urban environment.
This site provides a wide range of general information about coyotes as well as specific information about living with coyotes in an urban setting
Mountain lion sightings* have been noted yearly (or even more often) in Diamond A. The information below was compiled by John Walsh following an uptick of mountain lion activity in Diamond A that was notable for the loss of several sheep and one goat over a period of several days in 2014. In all cases, the animals killed had not been kept in a barn or a closed shed at night. The California Fish and Wildlife specialist assigned to investigate the incidents quickly determined that the killings were carried out by a mature female who was training her two adolescent offspring. The specialist trapped and killed one of the adolescents but, under the state regulations, was not allowed to capture the other two lions. Following these events, no resident of Diamond A kept sheep or goats unprotected.
* Video taken in 2023 by Patrick Treacy behind his house
There are a number of sources of additional information on this topic, some of which are listed in the Appendix of this document.
State law on mountain lions. The mountain lion is a protected animal in California, and, as such, can only be killed in specific circumstances
Responsible governmental agencies.
a. The California Department of Fish & Wildlife (DFW) is responsible for mountain lion policies & procedures, and their implementation.
b. The County of Sonoma Agricultural Department is responsible for advancing the county’s agriculture. It employs a Wildlife Specialist (WS) (formerly known as hunter/trapper), who is most often involved with any mountain lion encounters, particularly when a lion has attacked an animal. The Specialist interacts with the DFW to deal with any offending lion. The WS has been involved in the recent predations in Diamond A
DFW policies on lion encounters. The DFW policy, as of 1/1/2014, outlines 4 types of lion encounters, and actions allowable in those encounters:
a. Sighting: DFW is informed of a mountain lion being seen by the public and is not exhibiting unusual behavior. DFW enters the sighting into its Wildlife Incident Reporting System (WIR), and evaluates if further action is required
b. Depredation: DFW is informed of a lion immediately threatening to cause damage to private property, is in the act of destroying private property, or has destroyed private property. (This obviously includes the killing of a citizen’s animal). If depredation is confirmed, a depredation permit to kill the specific offending lion may be issued. There are rigid requirements and limitations on such a permit. Relocation or other non-lethal actions are not options in this circumstance.
c. Public Safety: A lion is demonstrating aggressive action that has resulted in physical contact with a human; or is exhibiting an immediate threat to public health and safety. The lion will be humanely euthanized at the scene as soon as possible. (Note that “Public Safety” threat is not a status designation for a neighborhood, but rather a designation for a specific lion).
d. Potential Human Conflict: A lion has been found in an unusual location and/or is demonstrating unusual behavior that might have the potential to cause injury or death to humans. This is a new category, which, unlike in cases of depredation or public safety, might allow some non-lethal actions with the lion (after an evaluation process).
What Diamond A residents should do in case of the lion encounters described above.
In all cases, contact one of the responsible agencies (contact information is in the Appendix). In the case of depredation, due to the legal constraints on depredation permits, and to maximize the potential to find/trap the offending lion, there are some actions that should be taken:
1. Notify the County Wildlife Specialist (WS) as soon as possible (see contact information in the Appendix). The longer the time from the event, the less the chance that the WS will be able to confirm that a lion was the cause of the incident, or the more difficult it will be to track the lion. After 2 to 3 days, the likelihood of confirming that the kill is the result of a lion attack becomes remote.
2. Cover the killed animal with a tarp and secure the tarp, if possible, perhaps with stakes. This will limit other animals from feeding on the killed animal, which obscures lion identification, and lessens the likelihood that the kill can be used to lure back the offending lion. Flesh from the kill is used to trap the offending lion, so there has to be some flesh available to set a trap. Note that If one has an animal which is potential prey for a lion, it is best to check on that animal’s welfare in the morning. Since lions might have been active after dusk, any predation that occurred would be visible in the morning. This would avoid the potential of a full day passing before the incident is reported and acted on
What Diamond A residents should do to avoid lion contact, or if contact occurs
There are any number of sources of information describing lion behavior, and what humans should do to avoid any negative encounters with lions. Some are listed in the Appendix. Consistent advice among these sources includes:
1. Do not feed deer. This is illegal in California and attracts lions to their main prey. Do not establish plants near your house that deer like to eat (for the same reason)
2. Since lions are crepuscular (most active at dusk and dawn), exercise extra care during those hours and at night.
3. Keep any animals which might be subject to predation in a secure enclosure (not simply fenced in) from dusk to daylight, if possible - if that is not possible, consider the use of guard animals (like one or more types of dog). Do not allow pets to run in and out of the house freely at night. A lion can learn about their availability and check in often for snacks.
4. Install motion sensing lights at the perimeter of one’s fences.
5. If walking in known lion territory, some recommended actions include
a. avoiding walking dusk to dawn
b. carrying a stick
c. traveling in groups
d. taking a dog
e. speaking in normal tones or otherwise making noise
6. If one encounters a lion
f. face the lion,
g. make yourself appear as large as possible
h. speak loudly and commandingly
i. do not turn away or run
j. back away until the threat dissipates
k. if attacked, fight back aggressively
1. Contact Information
a. DFW- Fish & Game Warden: Ed Morton Direct 707-939-6950
b. DFW Environmental Scientist: Stacy Martinelli 707-944-5537
c. DFW Offices Yountville: 707-944-5500; 707-944-5503
d. DFW Bay Area Wildlife Mgt.: 707-944-5531
e. Sonoma County Ag Dept. Wildlife Specialist: Jeff Furlong Direct 707-293-5634
f. County Ag Department: 707-565-2371
2. Information Sources
a. DFW “Keep me Wild” brochure- http://www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild/lion.html
b. Cougarinfo.org safety tips- http://www.cougarinfo.org/onguard.htm
c. Felidae Fund safety tips- http://www.felidaefund.org/?q=living-with-wildlife
d. USDA- “Living with Wildlife” activity sheet (from Marin County website) -http://www.marincounty.org/depts/ag/~/media/Files/Departments/AG/student_act ivity_sheet_cougar.ashx