Furry creatures in SaddleBrooke

Jim Cloer, speaker for SaddleBrooke Nature Club; Photo by Karen Moore.

Pam Boedeker

SaddleBrooke is home to amazing residents. Jim Cloer is second to none. His passion for learning and teaching about our desert animals just radiates as he speaks. His presentation for the SaddleBrooke Nature Club began with a collection of his exceptional photographs titled, “Furry Creatures in SaddleBrooke.” Jim’s humor was evident in the captions, cartoon characters and music he added to his personal collection of photographs.

Jim began with photos of mountain lions with real sound effects. He confirmed that there were two mountain lions in SaddleBrooke this winter. One was a mama, the other her two-year-old male offspring. It’s likely he was kicked out of the family home by mama’s boyfriend. There have been no recent sightings, so it’s assumed they have moved on.

Jim had film of a deer killed here in SaddleBrooke with a number of animals coming to the carcass to enjoy a meal. Among those animals was a huge old gray coyote, Old Silver, which has been frequently mistaken for a mountain lion.

Pictures of rabbits and their predators including coyotes, owls and snakes represented the desert food chain. Animals we see less frequently such as the gray fox, badger, ring tail cat, coati and four species of skunk were all captured by Jim’s camera.

Homeowners and golf course maintenance crews are all too familiar with gophers, rock squirrels, ground squirrels, pocket mice, cactus mice and packrats. Jim has published many articles and spoken to numerous groups about the danger of using poison on these critters. Called secondary poisoning, the critter eats the poison. The poisoned critter is eaten by an owl (for example). Both the owl and the critter die from the poison. The unintended result is fewer predators and more pack rats. Jim recommends traps. He will even provide traps and then remove the trapped critter. (Donations to the Catalina Nature Programs are gratefully accepted for his services.) Rawhide Feed and Seed on Edwin Road also sells traps.

Sticky Traps are frequently used for scorpions. Unfortunately, lizards and other creatures also get caught in these traps. If you must use the sticky traps, Jim advises us to put a small rock on both openings to limit the size of who goes into the trap.

Jim is an invaluable resource. He is available every Tuesday morning at the Roadrunner Grill downstairs at SaddleBrooke One to chat, have coffee and help with critter advice. Beware, if there is a twinkle in his eye and telling little smile he may be offering up some “Jim humor” with his suggestions.

Jim, Tom Stout and Jerry Schudda can be found at Catalina State Park Nature Program every Saturday 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. October through April. They also provide a grandchildren activity here in SaddleBrooke called “Kids Digs”.

SaddleBrooke Nature Club regrets having to turn away members and guests. Fire regulations require us to have no more than 88 people in the Coyote Room. We have not found a larger meeting room.