The game warden paid me a visit yesterday. Some local readers contacted him to express concern that my occasional use of baits may be contributing to their problems with local wildlife.
I apologized for using syrup recently and explained that for the past several months I have done very little camera trapping locally and other than the syrup, haven't used baits -- usually dead mice and gophers, for some time now.
We discussed my particular dilemma, California's game laws, and human behavior that contributes to local human-wildlife conflicts.
There are some curious ironies. Pet owners do not intend to attract wildlife when they feed their pets outdoors. Though ill-advised, it is NOT illegal to leave dog food on the porch or in the back yard. But it often has undesirable consequences when you live in the country.
We had a neighbor who fed the family dogs outside, and the neighborhood bear made good use of the food service. Then a bear broke into another neighbor's garage while they were on vacation. Guess what the bear found in the garage? Correct: a large bag of dry dog food.
It's not the animal's fault that it becomes a nuisance, but repeat offenders pay the ultimate price. The warden explained that killing nuisance wildlife is the most unpleasant part of his job.
It IS illegal in California to attract game animals with bait. The difference between this and feeding your dog outdoors is "intent". The pet owner doesn't intend to attract wildlife. A camera trapper does.
So from here on out the codger will be camera trapping WITHOUT the use of bait.