La Verne Magazine
Winter 1998

"La Verne's Borders: North, South, East and West"

Canyon Critters:
Maintaining a Buffer Zone

by Raechel Fittante

There are many misconceptions that people have regarding relationships between man and animal. One of those is that animals that live in the canyon are violent, deadly creatures, willing to tear through anything in their paths. However, it is often people who pose a threat to nature's wild animals by intruding on their grounds and building on the animals' territory. Back yards of some north La Verne homes melt into the canyons. Nature is the wild child that was ruling the hills before people started planting houses upon the land; yet some people who live here seem to forget that the wildlife should be respected. There have been occasions in the past when wild animals have come in contact with people, and the results are disastrous.

The latest publicized attack by a mountain lion happened about three years ago in Live Oak Canyon when a cougar killed a Siberian American Husky. Recently, though, there have not been any new attacks.

"People have to be aware that they are living on the buffer zone between city and wilderness," says Dr. Harvey Good, chair of the University of La Verne Biology Department, who is also on the board of directors for the Pomona Valley Humane Society. "We are encroaching on their environment."

Dr. Good says that there are preventative methods people can take to ensure that their home environments are protected from wild animals -- animals that are not looking for trouble in the first place and are only acting in a manner indicative to their nature.

First, people should not leave food outside under any circumstances. "Sometimes, people purposely feed animals, either to attract them, or because they think that they do not have enough food on their own," says Dr. Good. "This is never a good idea. Do not feed them or leave food outside, even in a trash can."

He describes a situation when the Humane Society was called upon to investigate why a family of coyotes was hanging out in a particular backyard of a family that had a pool. The family had not been feeding the coyotes and could not figure out why their backyard was the target.

"We traced it back to the adult male who is the head of the coyote family, and we deducted that the male remembered being fed in the past by a family who had lived in the house previous to the current owners. He was bringing his family back to be fed, where he thought was a sure place to get food," says Dr. Good.

Another way to prevent accidents with animals, according to Dr. Good, is to avoid carelessness. "Never leave small pets and small children outside alone," he says, explaining how the animals know no better, and people are the ones who need to take responsibility for their actions as well as take precautions to avoid disaster.

Areas highly populated with wild animals include Marshall Canyon, just north of La Verne, as well as Claraboya, Padua Hills, Live Oak Canyon, Webb Canyon and Baldy Village.

"No matter how frequent animal sightings may be, there is one thing you should remember when you happen to see one -- that you're lucky," says Glen Girard, owner of the Marshall Canyon Equestrian Center, who sees animals practically every day due to his location directly in front of an entrance to the canyon where he frequently rides his horses.

"Animals are more afraid of you than you are of them; and they have every reason to be," he explains, nodding his head. "Every reason."

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