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In the News - Friday, DECEMBER 9, 2005


Family dog falls

prey to cougar

   In Kaweah Country, one of the principal attractions of living here is the opportunity to view nature up close and personal. Last Monday evening some of that nature came a little too close for comfort.
   In fact, a brazen cougar, also commonly called a mountain lion, crept into an unattended yard and snatched a family’s small pet dog right off its tether. When they returned home a short time later all that they found was a bloody collar.

  “My wife, Maria, actually saw the big cat just before sunset that evening,” said Fred Reimer. “We’ve had several cats prowling the Alta Acres-Dinely Drive vicinity for quite some time.”
   Some other residents who live in the neighborhood reported a couple of years ago seeing a female lion with at least two cubs. One of the cubs was eventually found dead along the roadway, presumably hit by a passing motorist.
   But the most recent incident of the dog attack so close to a residence where some school-age kids often play in daylight hours was unusual and alarming. On Tuesday, Fred said he found the remains of the small dog in some bushes approximately 30 feet away.
   On Wednesday after burying the remains of the dog, the incident was reported to the Fresno office of the California Department of Fish and Game. A spokesperson said that in the future, if a pet is mauled and then recovered, they would like the opportunity to examine the remains.
   In a bizarre twist in this most recent incident, the dog owner said that on Wednesday when they returned home, the dog’s blanket had been removed from the doghouse and placed at the exact spot where the remains had been found.

  “It’s possible that the critter returned to the scene and grabbed that blanket although I’ll admit I’ve never heard of that happening before,” Fred said. “This has been a very unusual season with lots of wildlife present in Three Rivers throughout the entire year.”
   It is illegal to hunt lions in California but the Fresno office can provide information as to how to avoid an encounter and what to do in the event that one occurs. Despite occasional conflicts, most wildlife experts believe that coexistence between cougars and people is possible.
   At one time, cougars once laid claim to the most extensive range of any land mammal in the Western Hemisphere. The fact that today they are still found in the forests of the Northwest, Southwestern deserts, and the Florida Everglades attests to their resiliency as a species.
   Also known as mountain lion, puma, and panther, biologists call them Puma concolor. Their coat is plain, tawny brown, while their distinctive heavy tail measures two-thirds of their head and body length.
   The sexes look alike though males are generally 30 to 40 pounds heavier. Males measure six to eight feet from the tip of the nose to tail’s end. A typical adult male can weigh from 110 to 180 pounds.
   Lions are commonly found in areas with large deer populations and adequate cover. Conditions like the Three Rivers environs are ideal cougar country. Unfortunately, due to their stealthy nature and nocturnal lifestyle, there is no reliable way to accurately count how many of the elusive cats are within a large area.
   In addition, there are more people exploring the wilderness areas of Kaweah Country than ever before. One reason we are seeing more cougars is because there are more people nearby to see them.
   In the past, most ranchers and hunters merely shot these animals on sight and then maybe told a neighbor or two about the kill. Today, most locals and many hikers who see a cougar in the wild consider themselves most fortunate and are more likely to report the sightings to a park ranger than to a game warden.

CELL TALES
Poor reception and

a planned obsolesence

   It’s a cruel irony of the high-tech digital age in which we live. Cell phones have become indispensable yet Cingular Wireless, the exclusive provider in Three Rivers, can’t seem to maintain a local digital signal.
   In some locales around town the user is connected for a few minutes but then the dreaded “Call Ended” display signals another frustratingly abrupt end to a conversation. It’s particularly annoying to business customers who travel around the foothills with nary a bar of service or even a payphone to be found anywhere.
   Earlier this week, another of a growing number of Three Rivers residents called the Commonwealth (via an old-fashioned cordless) in hopes of finding a solution to the problem.

  “There’s really nothing left to do but call the Public Utilities Commission,” said John Webley, a local businessman who said he’s had it with Cingular. “When enough people have called to complain then something will be done.”
   Webley said he is privy to a little more information than the average customer because the AT&T transmitter is located on a mountain property that he owns. Recently, he said, he was able to visit the tower site when a company engineer was present.

  “He [the engineer] told me that service would improve now that Cingular had completed a $500,000 upgrade to the tower,” Webley said. “But there really hasn’t been any change in the local reception and the digital signal seems to be going from bad to worse.”
   What’s even more disturbing, Webley said, is that in a year or two Cingular plans to scrap the digital signal altogether, which could leave Three Rivers without any service. Before that happens, those who value having cell phone service should call and complain to the PUC at (800) 649-7570.
   Another area user said complaints should also be registered with Cingular by calling (800) 331-0500. A company representative told that caller that if enough people complain, Cingular will take some action.

  “It’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease,” Webley said.

Task force examines

resource issues

   Following this week’s regular board meetings, Supervisor Allen Ishida was in Three Rivers on Thursday to meet with the Yosemite/Sequoia Resource Conservation and Development Council. The all-volunteer task force, authorized by Congress in 2001, represents a six-county area contiguous to Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon national parks.
   Ishida said the group, who met at the Three Rivers Memorial Building, is concerned with water quality, economic development, noxious weeds, and fire- safety promotion and protection in the foothills region. Jon Wagy, a representative of the Tulare County Fire Safe Council was invited to make a presentation.

  “Following the meeting, I’ll report what went on, especially as it relates to Three Rivers,” Ishida said. “It’s the first time the group has met here in Three Rivers for quite some time.”
Ishida also said that the county’s approval for several community groups to use the former Three Rivers Fire Station No. 14 is a “done deal.”

  “All we are waiting on is for the Community Services District [CSD] to end their present lease,” Ishida said. “The community may rent the building as long as it is not needed as a fire station.”
One other Three Rivers project, a proposed toddler park on the county’s library property in Three Rivers, is also moving ahead. That deal, Ishida said, is dependent upon a successful First Five grant application for $50,000 being prepared by Maria Howell of Three Rivers.
   The county will permit use of the property for the park but not be obligated financially.

  “The Board of Supervisors like the idea of a park there because the children will also be able to attend the reading programs at the library,” Ishida said.

Look on high to

the December sky

   One of the best places to search for gifts during December is in the night sky. There are some miraculous events occurring that signal the approach of the holidays as much as an after-Thanksgiving sale.
   If one has even glanced at the evening sky during the past week, they couldn’t help but notice that the Moon and Mars have been hanging out together. This Sunday night, shortly after sunset, the Moon will pass by Mars, seeming from Earth’s perspective to barely miss an astronomical collision.
   Then, on Monday, Dec. 12, and for a night or two after, the Geminid meteor shower will be shedding some light. Even though the Moon will be near full, the brightest meteors will prevail.
   On Tuesday night, the Orion Nebula will appear to the right of Orion’s Belt. The nebula, a vast cloud of gas and dust that is giving birth to new stars, looks like a fuzzy star.
   To the ancient Mayans, the Orion Nebula represented the fire in the Hearth of Creation.
   On Thursday, December’s full Moon occurs. It’s called the Long Night Moon because it remains in the sky the longest of any full Moon of the year.
   This makes sense since the Moon’s appearances are opposite that of the Sun’s. As we approach the winter solstice (Dec. 21), the Sun is in the sky for an ever shorter time each day, while the Moon remains in view much longer.




 
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