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If wild animals are being drowned at Lake Clementia, as a neighbor reports in RanchoMurieta.com’s Forums, the state says it’s a crime.

“What you describe is a wildlife crime,” said Peter Tira, public information officer for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. “If it’s a professional pest control company, for example, doing this, then they’re clearly not following the law. Or some neighbor gone rogue and taking out animals.”

He said a professional pest-control company wouldn’t dump an animal carcass in the trash can, nor would an animal control officer.

RaccoonNeighbor Tony Hessler offered a Forums post Thursday saying he had found an animal carcass dripping wet the day before in the trash can near the boat dock at Lake Clementia. Hessler said it’s the third carcass he has found in the last eight months, and people he knows claim there have been a dozen in the last couple of years.

Supporting Hessler's report, Rod Hart, maintenance manager for the Rancho Murieta Association, said his workers have encountered a half-dozen wildlife carcasses in the trash can there in the last year. He said he believes the first instance was reported to Security but there probably haven’t been any reports to Security since.

Incidents like this should be reported, Tira said, and wildlife law-enforcement officers will follow up. You can file a report at the CalTIP hotline at 888-334-2258. There are also text and e-mail reporting options at https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/enforcement/caltip

Skunks and opossum are classified as “nongame mammals” and may be taken at any time, Tira said in an email. Raccoons are classified as “fur-bearing mammals” and may only be taken if they are damaging property, he wrote, but there are very strict and complex laws about how the animals are trapped and taken. Hessler said he saw opossum and raccoon carcasses.

The department is primarily concerned with public safety concerns about larger animals, like bears, Tira said, and it doesn’t respond to requests to remove skunks, raccoons, opossum and other small wildlife. “These kind of local wildlife issues, folks usually hire a pest control company or reach out to animal control for direction,” he said.

Commercial pest control companies, for example, will need a trapping license to conduct that nuisance wildlife work, Tira said. Property owners do not need a trapping license but there are very strict rules about what kinds of traps can be used, where they can be placed, how often they must be checked and how to deal with the animals trapped. To be clear, it is unlawful to kill any trapped mammal by intentional drowning, he said.

There are strict laws about how trapped animals are euthanized, Tira said. A trapped animal must be euthanized or released on site but may not be taken somewhere else and relocated.

At a quick check, Tira said Fish and Wildlife wasn’t aware of reports from Rancho Murieta.

Rancho Murieta Security Chief Jeff Werblun said he is unaware of any reports of wildlife carcasses. If you have such a report, he suggested you file it with Fish and Wildlife.

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