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March Mythbusters

MYTH: Killing coyotes helps reduce their population.


Incorrect. In reality, coyotes are able to offset population loss through a variety of adaptations. When someone kills one or both members of an alpha pair (which are the ones that normally reproduce), new pairs form and reproduce. Moreover, litter sizes also increase, and young coyotes are able to start having pups earlier.

So instead of killing coyotes, learn to coexist.





MYTH: San Diego is a desert


Not really… San Diego County does have some desert ecosystems, including Anza Borrego. However, most of us live in a sub-mediterranean climate, which is characterized by relatively mild, wet winters and dry, warm summers. On average, San Diego County gets about 12 inches of rain per year. Deserts, on the other hand, are defined by an average rainfall of 10 inches or less. What really sets San Diego and North County apart are the coastal winds that help keep temperatures more moderate than deserts which experience such a drastic shift in temperatures.





MYTH: Escondido Creek is a sewer



No! A sanitary sewer is a system of underground pipes that carries sewage from bathrooms, sinks, kitchens, and other plumbing to your local wastewater treatment plant where it is filtered and treated before reuse. The 7-mile long concrete channel that contains Escondido Creek, however, is a storm drainage that helps prevent flooding in our city streets. It’s important to note that all that storm water ends up downstream in Elfin Forest, San Elijo Lagoon, and ultimately our oceans. To protect our wildlife downstream, please think twice before washing your car with harmful chemicals or using inorganic fertilizers on your lawn.




MYTH: Opossums commonly carry rabies.





Not likely. While all mammals can potentially carry rabies, it is extremely rare in opossums. In fact, you’re significantly more likely to get rabies from a cow (which is also quite rare). A study in 2007 found that—of 7,258 cases of rabies in the US that year—57 cases (0.8%) were from cattle, compared with only 3 cases (0.04%) from opossums. Our friendly neighborhood marsupial’s low body temperature is believed to be the reason this species rarely contracts rabies.

So if you have opossums in your backyard, don’t be afraid. They actually have many benefits, such as reducing ticks and pests.








MYTH: Chaparral needs to burn


False. Chaparral has adapted to California’s climate and natural fire intervals (30 to 150

years or more). Some plants’ seeds are stimulated after a fire, some resprout, and others do both. You can think of these adaptations as the chaparral’s insurance policy. Just because we have fire insurance on our homes doesn’t mean we need to go and burn it down. Old growth chaparral is a productive ecosystem that continues to provide thriving habitat for native wildlife.






MYTH: Wild cucumber is invasive


Nope. Wild Cucumber (Marah macrocarpa) is native to North America and is common in chaparral ecosystems. The vines grow up to 25ft as they quickly climb onto other shrubs and trees. While they can occasionally harm some plants by blocking sunlight, they usually die back quickly in the summer. This is a natural and healthy competition, so please don’t tear them down.






MYTH: Elfin Forest is haunted by the “White Lady”.


Nope…it was just Nathan in a white wig and dress all along… so please don’t disturb wildlife searching for the white lady off-trails or after hours.