Sunday, July 24 , 2016, 11:05 am | Fog/Mist 67º

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Captain’s Log: Amid Drought, Beware of Predators After Your Pets and Maybe Your Kids

To understand the seriousness of this drought, look at it from the perspective of predators. Then think about what that means to your pets and perhaps your small children.

Predators up on the hillsides above town are pondering a problem. They have insufficient water to drink up there. Looking down onto town, they see green areas, which they know means water. With so little water up on the hillside, there are very few small critters for that predator to eat. Down in town, however, there is water and that means small prey to feast on. Rabbits, squirrels, mice and other prey are fine, but so are house cats, small dogs and maybe even unattended children.

This is a bad time to put a small child in a playchair out in the backyard without constant supervision/protection. Don’t put it past a mountain lion, bobcat, bear or pack of coyotes to show up in your backyard, even in the midst of a housing tract. They prefer to do their foraging at night, but they are opportunistic hunters. None of us lives very far from a creekbed.

All of these critters plus raccoons, possums and other foragers and predators use our neighborhood creekbeds as thoroughfares for access to our neighborhoods, where water runs through sprinklers and bubbles in fountains and ponds. These thoroughfares lead directly to where slow, lazy pets are easy to catch and are low on defense capabilities.

I’ll always remember an early morning years ago, an hour after first light, when I watched a pack of four coyotes turn in file and trot up a small ravine into the hills. Each and every coyote had a house cat hanging from its jaws. It was a good morning for those coyotes — not for the cats or for the families who lost their pets.

Running your sprinklers or a fountain is your right. Just be sure to think about the wildlife attraction you are creating during this drought and prepare for the fiercest of predators to come pay a visit.

I mean your pet no offense, but I believe that no matter what kind of dog you have, the outcome of an encounter with a mountain lion that just entered your yard depends entirely upon how hungry that mountain lion happens to be. I’d give a tortoise better odds at living through an encounter with a mountain lion than I would give a pit bull.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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