by Rebecca Dmytryk
Placer County, District 2. Just outside of Auburn, CA.
According to witnesses, a woman walking her dog on a rural road at about 11AM Sunday morning, January 24th, noticed a coyote caught in a fence, struggling. She called for help.
Placer County Animal Control told her to call the Sheriff, the Sheriff passed her on to Gold Country Wildlife Rescue. A local rescuer arrived on scene at about 3 PM to find a coyote caught in a neck snare at the base of a wire fence. No identification on the snare. Violation One.
§ 465.5 (f) (1) All traps, before being put into use, shall bear only the current registered trap number or numbers of the person using, or in possession of those traps. This number shall be stamped clearly on the trap or on a metal tag attached to the chain of the trap or to any part of the trap.
According to the rescuer, the animal was still alive and appeared to have a gunshot wound on the neck. The animal was clearly suffering and needed to be put out of its misery.
The rescuer found another snare nearby, along the fence line, and then another snared coyote. This one had been shot and appeared bloated, leading the rescuer to believe the animal had been in the snare for more than a day. Possible violation Number Two.
§ 465.5 (g) (2) Each time traps are checked all trapped animals shall be removed.
The traps were set along a rural road, with multiple houses nearby, seemingly within 150 yards of at least one home. Possible trapping Violation Number Three.
§ 465.5 (g) (3) Traps may not be set within 150 yards of any permanent or temporary residence without written consent of that landowner.
The rescuer reached out to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. A warden arrived after dark and made contact with the property owner.
What we believe to be true at this time: The owner of the property requested help from Placer County Agriculture Department to get rid of coyotes that were entering his land. The county operates a predator animal control program, described on the Agricultural Commissioner's page:
"The department’s Wildlife Services program is conducted for the purpose of assisting Placer County citizens with wildlife-related issues and offering technical assistance for behavior modification, use of repellents, exclusion, and habitat modification. Wildlife Specialists primarily trap problem skunks, raccoons, and opossums in and around the urban areas as well as in rural areas. Staff also responds to depredation calls involving the loss of livestock and pets from predators like coyotes, mountain lions, and bears."
The County supplied the landowner with a third-party trapper who set snares at the base of a wire fence running along the roadway and the landowner agreed to be responsibility for checking the traps and removing the animals.
From what we've been told, on Sunday morning the landowner shot two coyotes caught in the snare traps and then, when he returned later to remove the bodies, one of the coyotes was still alive, so he shot it again.
It was after this, some time around 11 AM, the woman walking her dog saw the coyote, still alive after being shot twice, and left for dead.
WES was notified of this incident Sunday afternoon and began looking at the potential trapping violations and animal cruelty issues. We reached out to the Humane Society of the Sierra Foothills. They responded to our call immediately! (THANK YOU!)
We hope HSSF's investigation can answer a couple of questions:
Was the coyote still alive when the landowner moved the animals off the road before the Wildlife Officer arrived?
What did the landowner use to shoot this coyote?
Was the bloated coyote shot that morning or a day or two before?
Was it a fatal shot or did this coyote die slowly from exposure?
A necropsy could reveal the truth, but HSSF would need the carcasses.
The County trapper had collected the carcasses Monday morning and delivered them to Placer County Animal Control, where HSSF could pick them up.
Please support the Humane Society of the Sierra Foothills by making a donation, HERE.
As for the trapping.
The warden does not believe the trapper was in violation of any trapping regulations. We do.
We believe the trapper neglected to mark his traps with an identifying tag as required by law.
We also believe at least one of the snares was within 150 yards of a neighboring home. Regardless of the neighbors being in favor (if they were), the trapper is obligated by law to comply with the regulations.
We understand the tremendous amount of time and effort required for an officer to build a case and submit it for consideration by a District Attorney, only to have it tossed because such violations are not worth their time... A sad reality, and not something we can change overnight.
BUT, with the Department of Fish and Wildlife's relatively new Records Management System (RMS), information about an incident like this one can be entered into CDFW's database, even if no charges are filed. This system helps identify repeat offenders.
We would like the Department to issue a warning to the County trapper, advising him of the trapping regulations he may have been in violation of, and then enter this incident into the RMS. That way, should this trapper be found violating trapping regulations in the future, there will be a record of him being warned.
As for the county providing free wildlife trapping, I had a good conversation with County Agriculture Commissioner, Josh Huntsinger. He agreed, the killing of the animals, coyotes in this case, was a band aid, not a long term solution, yet they do provide these services in addition to educating landowners on non-lethal preventive measures. We would like them to hold property owners more accountable.
We would like to see Placer County adopt a stepwise approach to human-wildlife conflicts, similar to what is required under a depredation permit.
Before being permitted to trap and kill wildlife, be it a skunk, raccoon, fox, bobcat, coyote, the property owner must first:
- Document the damage and confirm the species causing damage.
- Use non-lethal methods to deter the animals: scare devices; hazing.
- Take preventive measures to protect property: predator-proof fencing, proper livestock management.
If, after these efforts fail, they may be authorized to trap and kill the target animal.
Join us in asking the County to adopt this protocol, HERE.