We know that offering food to wildlife, on purpose or inadvertently, is like handing out a death sentence.
For one thing, it draws the bears, coyotes, mountain lions down from the hills, closer to civilization, our civilization, which often treats wildlife in a most uncivilized manner. For another, it can lead to unnaturally aggressive behavior, posing a threat to domestic animals and on rare occasions, humans.
Besides, from a nutritional standpoint, our diet doesn't suit them. Our diet, generally speaking, doesn't do us any favors either, but that's a subject for another day.
Many of the wildlives that share our hills are opportunists. If a half-eaten hamburger or an old piece of pizza is easier to catch than a rodent, then a Big Mac or some pepperoni and cheese it is. And they're loyal customers; if a house has offered fast food in an unsecured trashcan before, they'll be back.
The California Department of Fish and Game's Keep Me Wild website outlines some ways we can live in harmony with local fauna, as well as how to handle an unexpected encounter. While most of the advice is an easy-do, one or two items might present a challenge should the situation ever arise. For example:
If you encounter a mountain lion, do not run; instead, face the animal, make noise and try to look bigger by waving your arms.
I'm sure Fish and Game know what they're talking about, but seems it would take some serious intestinal fortitude to rise to that occasion.
One thing the site doesn't address is the residential practice of laying out poison for rats and mice. So just a word: It's easier for a predator to catch a sick or dying rodent than a healthy one. Thus, a poisoned rat will likely find its way up the food chain. We've got a natural pest control service around here. A pest control service that, if left to its own devices, is always on the job and never sends a bill. But a poisoned coyote, hawk, or mountain lion -- that's one less animal who will be reporting for work.
(Thanks to Altadena's Doris Finch for sharing her photos. Her home is near Eaton Canyon and she often receives unexpected visitors.)
When is the last time you saw bears, bobcats, coyotes or similar wildlife in Sierra Madre? What do you think is the best way to share the hills with them?