Friday, 14 June 2024

News

LAKEPORT – Lake County Agricultural Commissioner Steve Hajik says that because of the uncertainty of dates, new Department of Pesticides Regulations (DPR) regulations governing the application of pesticides during the dormant season will not be enforceable.

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New CAWG board member, David Weiss. Photo by John Lindblom.
KELSEYVILLE David Weiss, the owner of a vineyard management firm and former chair of the Lake County Winegrape Commission, has been elected to the board of directors for the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG).

NORTHSHORE – Extra State Department of Fish and Game (DFG) staff rolled back into Lucerne Monday night, air boats in tow, in preparation for an assessment today of the situation on the lake following last week's avian cholera die-off.

DFG veterinarians ruled last week that the thousands of ruddy ducks that have died over the past week and a half, interspersed with grebes and other waterfowl, succumbed to avian cholera. That disease commonly affects wild birds during the winter months, the agency reported.

 

Collecting dead animals is critical to keep the disease from spreading, according to DFG.

 

Last week 13 DFG staff using five boats collected nearly 5,000 dead birds, according to Lynette Shimek, a local DFG game warden.

 

Over the weekend, a small crew composed of Shimek, fellow warden Loren Freeman, wildlife rescue group SpiritWild and other volunteers continued the collection effort.

 

Shimek said on Monday evening that they didn't go out on the lake Saturday due to foggy conditions.

 

They also decided it would be good to give sick birds a chance to rest and keep them from moving toward other bird populations.

 

On Sunday the fog only left the volunteers a four-hour window of time to collect animals, Shimek said. In all, they found 120 birds, bringing the collection total to more than 5,000.

 

Although the number of birds found has decreased dramatically – there were days last week when DFG collected 1,000 birds – Shimek said a smaller DFG crew has returned to take a look at the situation and decide if more staff is still needed.

 

Six staff members and three boats will be on the lake today, she said. By day's end, she added, they'll know if more staff will once again be required.

 

Despite finding fewer birds, Shimek reported that the outbreak is still having affecting the birds.

 

“There's still birds dying,” she explained, recounting finding sick and dying birds during Sunday's collection.

 

Still, she is receiving only scattered reports from area residents finding dead animals, and few reporting more than one or two at a time.

 

One resident did, however, report seeing numerous dead birds near Rattlesnake Island. Shimek said they'll head over that way first thing today to look for the dead waterfowl.

 

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

 

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LUCERNE – State Department of Fish & Game officials will be out in full force on the lake again today after hundreds more dead birds were found Tuesday.

 

DFG veterinarians ruled last week that avian cholera was the cause of death for thousands of ducks on the lake this month.

 

Lynette Shimek, one of Lake County's DFG game wardens, reported Tuesday evening that 886 dead dead birds, mostly ruddy ducks, were collected that day by teams on three boats.

 

Game wardens Shimek and Loren Freeman led a small group of volunteers in picking up dead birds over the weekend while nearly a dozen other DFG staff returned to the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area.

 

However, Shimek said that rough weather prevented them from spending any time on the water Saturday; on Sunday, she added, they only had a four-hour window in which they could remain on the water.

 

The hundreds of birds found Tuesday, said Shimek, could have died over the weekend.

 

About 39 dead birds were found between Kono Tayee and south of Rattlesnake Island on Tuesday, said Shimek. DFG went looking for birds there after an area resident reported seeing numerous dead birds in the area.

 

“That was not as many as we had feared,” she said.

 

Most of the birds picked up Tuesday were found in the lake center, straight off from Lucerne, Shimek said. That pattern is consistent with DFG findings last week, and with the die-off patterns in the lake's first avian cholera outbreak in January 2004, in which more than 7,000 ducks and wild birds died.

 

Shimek, who is acting as the local incident commander, reported that DFG had sent more staff back in to help with collection by Tuesday afternoon. DFG has emphasized collecting the dead animals as a way of preventing the disease from spreading.

 

Four boats with a total of 10 DFG staff will be out again today, said Shimek, to continue collection.

 

Shimek said assessment of the situation won't be complete until they go out on the water again today and cover the same areas looking for new dead birds.

 

Tuesday's numbers bring the total of dead birds collected to about 6,200, said Shimek.

 

Andy Atkinson, a senior wildlife biologist who was on scene last week, has said he expects this die-off will equal the 2004 event, Shimek reported.

 

Atkinson has not returned to Lake County, said Shimek, because he has had to respond to other avian cholera outbreaks that now are taking place in the valley.

 

Shimek thanked local residents for their diligence in reporting dead animals, and also thanked local volunteers for their ongoing help in collecting the birds.

 

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 – The presentation of a motion for a change of venue for the murder trial of Renato Hughes Jr., scheduled for today in Lake County Superior Court, has been put over until Tuesday, Feb. 27, according to District Attorney Jon Hopkins.

LAKEPORT – Earlier this week a man received 240 years in prison for a laundry list of felonies committed during an attempted kidnapping and burglary last May.

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