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December 14, 2018
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Fresh faces on the CRPUSD board  RP swears in new council member Cotati Council reshuffles seats RP’s n­ew Director of Public Safety In Singapore Strait aboard a missile destroyer CHP reminds all of increased crimes Official election winners as projected by the VOICE Cougars’ season comes to a tearful sad conclusion Animal Shelter League of RP receives grant Rohnert Park kid joins TCU Rancho advances to semifinals Tech High Girl's Soccer Undefeated champions! New residential building lands approved Cotati Council reviews trash plan Newsom’s vision “cradle to career” Bad air quality cancels sports Fun family Christmas events in Cotati Dr. Dominguez and Hawkins named as director and co-director for Hanna Institute University Elementary School to host Maker World at SSU The Community Voice endorses candidates DA’s office awarded DUI Prosecution Grant Frightful, fun, free Halloween activities Cougars crush Ukiah Election projected winners November 6, 2018  Sonoma Clean Power offers no-cost energy upgrades Public invited to give input on Downtown RP Site School board candidates voice opinions Woman stabbed on west side of RP LandPaths connects people to protected land State Farm property steams forward to Station Avenue Scrappers Steal Win RP Foundation issues grant Cotati allows second dispensary Rancho Cotate Band fundraiser BBQ Jessica Holman: Thirty-five years of Rancho Spirit Titans crush Mustangs Station Avenue gets final approval New interim superintendent Krispy Kreme Doughnuts comes to Rohnert Park  Cougars blow past Gauchos  Rohnert Park honors its Veterans and Servicemen Cotati Chamber of Commerce Oktoberfest Rancho crushes Analy CA Homemaker Association needs volunteers Active duty honorees at the RP Veterans Day program RP’s new interim police chief Big changes to big project in Rohnert Park A possibility for Snyder Lane to have four lanes soon Penngrove Community Church celebrates 120 years Cotati approves tree lighting City of Cotati has apartment housing parking problems Students at University Elementary discussing the labyrinth Rohnert Park City Council Candidates R P Foundation gives grants to NOAH and Petaluma Bounty Summit State Bank annual report March for the blind highlights need for more accessible sidewalks Cougar to Bear — Simmons’ new pelt SRJC picks up local quarterback The Cougars defeat the Jaguars at homecoming Kids and firefighters compete in RP RP local, Petri Alva, 14, a nationally recognized athlete SweetPea celebrates 31 years Seawolves serve up a victory Cardinals rout Cougars How to help victims of wildfires Polynesia celebrated at annual Pacific Islander Festival Fire storm anniversary Plan approved for Station Ave. park Football in full swing, 3rd win Arrests and charges target Apple stores Annie Rasmussen Celebration of Life Revisiting those who lost it all: October wildfire victims still on the road to recovery SMART celebrates a year of service RP Public Safety report card Penngrove native set for amazing voyage Cotati votes opposition to oil leases SC neighborhood sues illegal pot grower Penngrove grassfire destroys buildings Cotati Accordion Festival still a hit after 28 years RP residents provide input in police chief search Forum hosted by WLV for RP City Council candidates Supply giveaways lend a hand to families Police officers inspect inside of car Lowerys help with campaign Yes on Measure W will keep fire stations open RP to host community forum for public safety director search Emergency Alert System Test Sept. 10 & 12 Spreckels and Alchemia connects community It wasn’t an easy fight but Rancho wins again RP Safety Dept. climbs in remembrance of 9/11/18 Back to school for Rohnert Park and Cotati Another tough break for roller derby RP waits to make update to emergency alert system Cougars slay Dragons Third pedestrian struck by SMART train Enjoying ribs Little ones with big Polynesian dancing spirit Sidewalk repair gets big break from City of RP RP Health Center celebrates anniversary Imitating major leaguers Rohnert Park waiting for approval for canine program

How cat owners can help save the sea otter

By: Elspeth Wood
December 7, 2012


The California Sea Otter could possibly be one of the cutest sea creatures in the ocean.

The Sea Otter has always had a special relationship with humans. They are pint-size pranksters that exude charisma. They are extremely intelligent and very curious. The bright shiny eyes, expressive face and soft furry body make the California Sea Otter a local favorite. Sea Otter colonies range from Japan, along the coast of Siberia and the Aleutian chain and down to Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and of course, California.

As few as 2,800 of them call California’s waters their home. The California population descends from a single remaining colony of about 50 otters hidden within the crags of Big Sur. They have a very important niche in the beautiful California near-shore ecosystem by keeping kelp forests healthy by eating urchins that can overgraze.

What do cat owners have to do with sea otters, you ask? Recently, the population size of sea otters has been declining in response to changes in environmental conditions. One major reason for this, among others, are parasites called toxoplasma gondii known to breed in cats. Scientists hypothesize some sea otters may be dying because coastal area cat owners flush used, feces-laden cat litter down their toilets, use it as compost, and dump it in storm drains.

Any pollutants on our streets, business lots, farms, vineyards, driveways and yards pour into the ocean after it rains. Some of the major offenders are motor oil, gasoline, paint and painting equipment wash water residue, animal refuse, farm, vineyard, garden and yard pesticides, and soap suds from washing cars in the driveway. The fact is sea otters feed close to the shore, which makes them vulnerable to these pollutants in coastal waters.

According to Christina S. Johnson, a science writer for California Sea Grant, the scientists' best guess is parasite eggs in cat droppings are being washed by sprinklers and rains into coastal-bound storm drains and creeks. Although many different kinds of animals, such as birds and rodents, can serve as intermediate hosts for toxoplasma gondii, cats are the only animals known to shed the parasite's eggs in their droppings.

Not just otters but also people are potentially at risk from the parasite. People eat many of the same shellfish as otters. Also, this cat-parasite link is the reason pregnant women are advised against cleaning cat litter boxes because it can pose a major health risk for the baby and mother. Fortunately, humans, cats and other animals infected with this parasite rarely show any symptoms. Those that do usually already have a weakened or compromised immune system. Sea otters are not so lucky.

Fortunately, there’s a silver lining to this story because there is something we can do to help. I am assuming most cat owners are animal lovers and are not aware of the dangers of improper disposal of cat waste. Safely disposing of your fur baby’s droppings starts with picking the right litter. Do not use any flushable litter because the sewage treatment might not be able to kill the T. Gondii. Choose a litter that clumps up easily and put the pieces in a plastic bag and seal it for land waste disposal.
The feces are sealed so that it won’t go into any water sources. Unfortunately, there is no better way to dispose of cat litter yet. Each city has its own law on cat litter disposal; it is important to find out the local regulations. Here in Sonoma County, we can dispose of our kitty litter in the grey curbside garbage cart that goes to the landfill. Keep the kitty litter out of the green compost bin. If you are not sure about your area, the best place to ask is your local animal shelter.

If we know better, we can do better. As busy humans, there is only so much we can do to help with our environment. But we have to remember it’s the little things that add up. We can overcome some of these challenges our local species face. We need to realize, in fact, otters are a very important indicator species for the humans. Therefore, we should take note, because if our oceans are facing new challenges, sea otters likely will show the first indication of trouble.
 
Elspeth Wood is a student participating in the Hutchins Program at SSU. She was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Creek Stewardship Day
When: Saturday, Dec. 8, 9 a.m.-noon. (It was originally scheduled for Dec. 1 but canceled because of foul weather.

Where: Falletti Park, off Gravenstein Way (east of the intersection of Old Redwood Highway and Highway 116, just north of Peet’s Coffee and Walgreens).

Details: Help take care of native trees and shrubs along the Laguna de Santa Rosa channel in Cotati by weeding and mulching, and some planting. Tasks will depend on weather and conditions on the ground. Dress for work and weather with old clothes, in layers, with boots or sturdy shoes, and bring rain gear. Heavy rain cancels the event. Bring your own drinking water bottle. Gloves, tools, and some refreshments provided.

Full details: www.CotatiCreekCritters.info

Contact: jenny@creeks.cotati.info or 792-4422.