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In the News - Friday, SEPTEMBER 1, 2006

 

KAWEAH COUNTRY

VISITOR GUIDE

Summer~Fall 2006

ONLY IN THE

SEPTEMBER 1

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Mountain lion

killed in Three Rivers

   It’s a fact of life in Kaweah Country. The area is what wildlife experts describe as a “wildland interface” and mountain lion territory.
   Sooner or later there will be sightings and encounters with one of at least three or four mountain lions that local game wardens believe inhabit the Three Rivers environs.
   For the past several weeks, one very bold 80-pound female lion has been seen on numerous occasions in the neighborhood near the Three Rivers Cemetery. Last Friday evening (August 25), that curious cat came a little too close for comfort.
   It was shortly before dusk when the bold feline strode onto a South Fork Drive property and grabbed a sheep that was in a fenced pasture. In the process of taking its prey, the lion came within a few feet of the property owner who attempted to drive the animal off.
   The same lion was believed to have killed other domestic animals in the neighborhood.

  “Apparently, the lion grabbed the sheep and jumped the fence into an adjoining pasture,” recounted Mike Conley, one of two California Department of Fish and Game wardens who responded to the homeowner’s call for assistance.
   Even with several persons present at the scene, including Jim Fansett, the Three Rivers resident deputy sheriff, the determined feline was not about to abandon its prey. For several anxious minutes, the mountain lion remained sitting on top of the sheep.
Conley said only after exploring other alternatives and going through the proper chain of command, the decision was made that a depredation permit was appropriate. The permit was necessary before another officer at the scene could shoot the lion.
   A neighbor reported that the shotgun blast sounded like an explosion.

  “It’s not open season on lions,” Conley said. “These animals are protected and each incident presents a different set of circumstances.”
   The problem, Conley said, is that local residents and visitors need to realize that this is lion country and these animals will return.

  “Even if most homeowners are careful not to attract wild animals somebody will leave out pet food on the deck and that’s all it takes,” Conley said. “The animals are down here in the foothills, especially in the late summer and fall looking for water.”
   The public is asked to report wild animal encounters via the toll-free, 24-hour Cal Tip hotline maintained by the state Department of Fish and Game, 888-334-2258.
   Conley, who was in Three Rivers again on Wednesday, Aug. 30, investigating a streambed alteration complaint, said that in addition to wildlife encounters, he is here frequently because property owners often fail to secure the proper permits.
Prior to any grading or the removal of vegetation in the channel of the Kaweah River, property owners must apply to the state agency for a permit.
   To seek a permit or to report unauthorized activity in the river’s channels, callers should contact the Department of Environmental Services, (559) 243-4593, during regular business hours. Additional information is available on the agency’s website: www.dfg.ca.gov.

Power outage darkens town

   It didn’t rank as one of the great blackouts of our time, but last Thursday’s (August 24) midday power outage did rankle several hundred SCE customers from South Fork to Dinely in Three Rivers.
   Both business and residential users were without electricity from 12:30 p.m. until service was restored about 3 p.m. Customers above Dinely Drive reported that service was interrupted for just a minute or two.
   For the rest of Three Rivers, including all the businesses clustered above and below North Fork Drive, it was a blackout that lasted more than two hours. Many, like Three Rivers Mercantile, closed for the afternoon and sent their employees home.
   The inconvenience was caused by an asphalt contractor with a loaded trailer trying to negotiate a steep South Fork driveway. The impact of hitting a utility pole caused a key transmission line to stretch to the breaking point.
   After the vehicle and trailer were extricated, the line snapped causing the widespread outage. A Southern California Edison repair crew responded a short time after the accident was reported to the CHP.

Gas prices take a dip

   In a surprising reversal of the usual holiday weekend trend, gasoline prices are going down, not up. Due to lower oil prices and a rise in gasoline stockpiles, the cost of a gallon of petrol is forecast to go under $3.
   Prices may not stay that way for long as the tropical storm season arrives on the Gulf Coast and with it “hurricane hysteria,” which may cause traders to bid gas prices higher again, especially if refining operations take another hit as they did during Hurricane Katrina.
   But, for now, enjoy. There may be a small window of opportunity in which to take a road trip without mortgaging the house.

Searchers locate

body of mountain biker

   It was a mountain bike ride in the southern Sierra that turned tragic very quickly.
   Guy Moran, 38, of Bakersfield, departed from the Big Meadow trailhead on Sunday, Aug. 27, and headed out with two companions. He was reportedly last seen about 3 p.m. on the Cannell Meadow Trail when he intentionally separated from his companions.
   Cannell Meadow is in Giant Sequoia National Monument in southern Tulare County.
   Moran was reported missing late Sunday by his friends when he failed to arrive at their meeting point. A search of the roads and trails in the area was initiated by resident deputies.
   By Monday, Aug. 28, the search was expanded, ultimately consisting of several search-and-rescue teams from Tulare, Kern, and Fresno counties, mounted patrol, air support, and the state Office of Emergency Services staff.
   On Tuesday, Aug. 29, at approximately 4:30 p.m., Moran’s body was located in a remote area of northern Kern County.
   According to John Van Rensselaer, supervising deputy coroner for Kern County, Moran was located about two miles from the community of Kernville. He had abandoned his bike and was on a non-maintained trail at an elevation of about 5,000 feet.
   This location is just south of the Forest Service’s Cannell Meadow Ranger Station and several miles south of where Moran was reportedly last seen.
   The official cause of death is pending, but is possibly due to exposure and dehydration.

Fire slows in backcountry

   Fire officials are keeping watch on a managed fire project in the Golden Trout Wilderness of Sequoia National Forest, south of Sequoia National Park. The Tamarack Fire, ignited by lightning in July, has burned 4,600 acres south of the Mineral King area in Sequoia National Park.
   Make note that trail closures are in place for the fire area and expected to continue through Tuesday, Sept. 12.
   For fire and trail information, call 539-2607, ext. 292.

 
THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
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