Sun 17 Nov 2013
As days grow cold with still no rain, I’m starting to see more and more of my wild neighbors.
A fortnight ago when I stepped outside, a bobcat was walking nonchalantly past Mitchell cabin. Unfortunately, my camera was in the car, and by the time I retrieved it, the bobcat — hearing me — hurried off. I managed to snap only one good shot of it as it retreated under my neighbor’s fence.
A fawn warily trots past Mitchell cabin, careful to avoid becoming dinner for the bobcat.
A Golden crowned sparrow pauses for a drink at the birdbath on my deck. The Golden crowned sparrow spends its summers in northern Alaska but heads south for the winter. Its song has been described as “Three Blind Mice in a minor key.”
SUNSET WITH A CRESCENT MOON OVER INVERNESS RIDGE — In preparation for landing, please return your seats and tray tables to their upright and locked position.
Trick or treat.
I’m pining for a conifer that for 37 years stood in a row lining my driveway but which died during the dry weather. Two weeks ago, Nick Whitney of Inverness dispatched his Pacific Slope Tree crew to cut down and chip the 25-foot-high Monterey pine. It took three men all of an hour.
A young doe (left) and buck blacktail deer graze just uphill from Mitchell cabin.
Two Golden crowned sparrows and a California towhee peck birdseed off the picnic table on the deck. Periodically, some towhee can be heard knocking on a cabin window. It turns out California towhees are prone to challenging their own reflections.
BOBCAT ON THE PROWL — The bobcat was back hunting in my pasture Saturday. Bobcats’ favorite prey are rabbits and hares, but they’ll eat anything from insects to rodents to deer. Adult bobcats range in size from 2 to 3.5 feet long and have been clocked at up to 34 miles per hour.
There’s good news for California’s bobcats.
California legislators passed the Bobcat Protection Act of 2013 last September, and Governor Jerry Brown signed it into law Oct. 11. The bill, AB 1213, was authored by Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica).
“The Legislature,” notes the Legislative Counsel’s Digest, “finds that a rise in the demand for bobcat pelts in China and other foreign markets has resulted in a substantial increase in the number of trappers taking bobcats as well as in the number of bobcats taken for commercial purposes in California.”
As of Jan. 1, 2014, bobcat hunting and trapping will be prohibited on lands around Joshua Tree National Park. In addition, “the bill would require the [California Fish and Game] Commission to amend its regulations to prohibit the trapping of bobcats adjacent to the boundaries of each national or state park and national monument or wildlife refuge in which bobcat trapping is prohibited.”
“Body gripping traps are already illegal in California,” The San Francisco Chronicle reported in March, “so the bill would ban the use of wire mesh cages that trappers generally bait with cat food or carrion to lure the cats inside, causing the door to close.”
Equally important, the Fish and Game Commission commencing on Jan. 1, 2016, must “consider whether to prohibit bobcat trapping within, and adjacent to, preserves, state conservancies, and any other public or private conservation areas identified to the commission by the public as warranting protection,” the Legislative Counsel’s Digest notes.
“The commission, as necessary, shall amend its regulations… to prohibit bobcat trapping in any area determined by the commission to warrant protection.” The Digest adds that the Fish and Game Commission “may impose additional requirements, restrictions, or prohibitions related to the taking of bobcats, including a complete prohibition on the trapping of bobcats.”