Saturday, 20 July 2024

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LUCERNE – Department of Fish & Game (DFG) officials are reporting that after two weeks of dealing with a massive avian cholera outbreak on the lake, the numbers of dead birds are beginning to lessen substantially. 

Late last month thousands of birds, mostly the migratory ruddy ducks that visit Clear Lake during the winter, began to die. DFG veterinarians ruled it was a case of avian cholera, which caused a similar die-off in January 2004.

 

DFG Game Warden Lynette Shimek said she and fellow game warden, Loren Freeman, picked up 116 dead ducks on Sunday. Fog conditions on Saturday prevented collection efforts, she said.

 

Three DFG boats were on the lake Monday, Shimek reported, and picked up 232 dead birds.

 

The pockets of dead and dying birds appear to be becoming more scattered, Shimek said.

 

Late last month thousands of birds, mostly the migratory ruddy ducks that visit Clear Lake during the winter, began to die. DFG veterinarians ruled it was a case of avian cholera, which caused a similar die-off in January 2004.

 

DFG Game Warden Lynette Shimek said she and fellow game warden, Loren Freeman, picked up 116 dead ducks on Sunday. Fog conditions on Saturday prevented collection efforts, she said.

 

Three DFG boats were on the lake Monday, Shimek reported, and picked up 232 dead birds.

 

The pockets of dead and dying birds appear to be becoming more scattered, Shimek said.

 

That has led DFG to think that the worst of the die-off is over, said Shimek.

 

“The birds probably will continue to die over the next week or so,” she said.

 

Few ruddy ducks remain on the lake, Shimek noted; those that were still healthy have moved on in their migration.

 

So far, 7,500 dead birds have been collected, she said. Collection efforts are an important part of DFG's protocol in dealing with avian cholera, because officials report that it helps prevent the disease from spreading.

 

Last month Shimek said DFG was especially concerned about keeping the outbreak from reaching the lake's thousands of wintering grebes.

 

DFG boat crews will be back on the lake Tuesday morning, said Shimek, and will reassess the die-off situation in the early afternoon.

 

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

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The accident at Merritt Road and Highway 29 resulted in minor injuries. Photo by Harold LaBonte.
KELSEYVILLE – A two-car accident at Merritt Road and Highway 29 before noon on Thursday resulted in minor injuries for one of the drivers.

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Lower Lake High Academic Decathlon team members Lanie Nolasco, Emily Riggs and Kate Lyons. Photo by John Lindblom.
LOWER LAKE "China and its influence on the World" was the subject of this year's Super Quiz in the Lake County Academic Decathlon. And, like that country's heralded Great Wall, Upper Lake High School's dominance was relegated to history on Saturday its eight-year reign in the county scholastic competition ended by an exuberant and well-prepared Lower Lake team.

 

Lower Lake captured trophies for both the Decathlon and Saturday's Super Quiz, team captain Kate Lyons said, by force of sheer determination.


"It was a lot of hard work and a lot of studying, cooperation from the teachers and help from the (team's three) alternates," Lyons said at the conclusion of the event at LLHS.


What single factor helped LLHS achieve its long-sought decathlon win? "I think it was determination – a lot of willpower and preparation," Lyons said.


"We had a really strong team and a lot of people who were really involved."


Looking back on her seven years as the LLHS coach, Nancy Harby recalled the "six straight years I've watched them (Upper Lake) walk away with the trophy," and could only describe the euphoria of finally winning, as, well, "indescribable."


"I'm really excited and proud of my children," said Harby, who appeared to sense an upset in the making in an interview with Lakeconews.com earlier last week.


The loss to Lower Lake was the only blot on an otherwise perfect record for ULHS coach Tina Moore, who is being succeeded by assistant Tiffany Larson after coaching the north county team for all eight years.


The task of perpetuating ULHS' dominance had put significant pressure on Moore's teams.


"It's nerve-wracking, actually. It's like we always gotta win here," Upper Lake junior Quinn Womacka confided as tension built in Saturday's Super Quiz.


The rivalry between the two schools has become so intense that both maintain two nine-member teams. To date, Clear Lake and Middletown, the other two high schools in the competition, have not been able to mount that level of enthusiasm for the test of brains. Kelseyville, the county's fifth high school, has not competed.


That could change.


"I'm not used to not doing well," said Middletown H.S. Principal Chris Heller in a faintly ominous tone.


In addition to Lyons, the No. 1 Lower Lake team was comprised of Emily Riggs, Emmalena Illiea, Manuel Pantoja, Anthea Tuley, Joe Riggs, Jared Focose, Jamie Walker and Kayla Huff, and alternates Lanie Nolasco, Charlie Barron and Loretta Garcia.


Lower Lake's No. 2 team members were Josh Salazar, Sean Perkins, Victoria Kursa, Shirley Barajas, Sherrie O'Neill-Jones, Suzie Carlsen, Chris Ingersoll, Ryan Johnston and Steven Negrette, and alternates Evan Kaniss and Cassie Martin.


LLHS' victory on Saturday qualified the school to compete in the state Academic Decathlon finals March 15-18 in Sacramento.


That will be a paradigm of a different pattern. In all the years Upper Lake has gone to the state competition it has won its division once against 16 similarly rural counties.


But to win the California championship the small schools must contend with the giants, such as Los Angeles schools with four-figure enrollment pools and strict, Decathlon-only study curriculums.


But that's for later. Saturday the mood was upbeat.


"They were a formidable opponent," Lyons said, echoing her coach's praise for Upper Lake. "It's hard to compete against them because they are a very skilled team. We had to work very hard this year to beat them."


E-mail John Lindblom at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

To see a photo gallery of the Academic Decathlon, visit the gallery.

 

Editor's note: The full results of the Academic Decathlon, including student winners in the individual competitions, are being provided by the Lake County Office of Education, and will be published as soon as possible. We also welcome any additional pictures or video of the competition; e-mail them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we'll add them to our photo gallery.


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LUCERNE – State Department of Fish & Game officials say that the avian cholera outbreak that has killed thousands of waterfowl on the lake in the past few weeks appears to be ending.

DFG Game Warden Lynette Shimek said because of rainy weather crews ceased collecting dead ruddy ducks and birds on the lake on Wednesday. On Tuesday, the day of “last big push,” Shimek said three boat crews picked up 150 dead birds.

That's down significantly from the early days of the die-off, in which DFG was collecting about 1,000 dead birds a day.

Shimek said DFG believes that the die-off is over. “There will be a few residual birds that will die from it,” she said.

The large flocks of ruddy ducks that winter on the lake have left now, she said. Officials are hoping that with the warmer weather and rain, conditions that helped the die-off – particularly the animals' close proximity – are over, Shimek added.

The die-off, which began more than two weeks ago, has so far claimed about 8,000 ruddy ducks and other water birds, said Shimek. That's the same amount of birds that died in the first avian cholera outbreak on the lake in January 2004, she said.

“That seems to be the magic number,” Shimek added.

The additional DFG crew members brought in from the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area near Gridley – almost a dozen in all – have returned home, said Shimek.

If, however, many more dead birds are found after the rain stops, Shimek said DFG might bring additional staff back to finish collection.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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LAKEPORT Lakeport has a few new residents two Egyptian mummies, to be exact. They reside at Café Victoria, the new eclectic café on Main Street in downtown.

LAKE COUNTY Revel in the dry weather today, for tomorrow the National Weather Service (NWS) in Sacramento predicts that the persistent dry weather pattern will be over and the rainfall beginning on Wednesday will catch us up to normal rainfall amounts.

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