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PROBE: Aug. 8, 2001

August 08, 2001

QUESTION: My friends were playing golf at the Rio Bend course near Seeley a couple weeks ago. They saw an animal that looked like a full-grown mountain lion on the New River bottom. Is that possible? Would a mountain lion leave the cover of the mountain shrubs to brave the heat and treeless desert? — Curious, El Centro

It might if it were hungry enough. Anything is possible, said a U.S. Bureau of Land Management wildlife specialist, but it is not likely, she said.

"I have never heard of mountain lions in that area," she said.

Neither had Adriana Parga, a clerk in the Rio Bend golf shop. Nevertheless, she said two weeks ago a couple golfers insisted they saw a mountain lion in the nearby New River bottom. That could have been your friends.

What they saw, Parga thinks, was a bobcat. A bobcat is bigger than a house cat but considerably smaller than a mountain lion.

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Nevertheless, we're not ruling out a wide-ranging mountain lion far from his habitat.

There have been reports of mountain lion sightings for decades in Imperial County.

Art Willis, who grew up in Imperial County, recalls a farmer near Mount Signal who complained of the forays of a big cat, drawing the derision of his neighbors.

One day, the farmer shot the feline and displayed its 75-pound carcass to his dubious buddies. That was 40 years ago.

Remember the chupacabras (goatsuckers) reportedly attacking livestock from Oaxaca to Mexicali a few years ago?

Mexican biologists concluded the culprits were wild animals starving as the result of a drought and a degraded habitat that decimated the supply of small animals on which the bigger animals fed.

Even chupacabras have to eat.

AMERICORPS CALLING — Tell that young woman, 18, that we are taking applications for our AmeriCorps program at the county Office of Education.

It's part of our student well-being and family resources program. We have both part-time and full-time positions.

The requirements are a high school diploma, U.S. citizenship or a green card. Income, high or low, is not a factor.

The pay is not high but you get a living allowance and at the end of the year, you get an educational award (money). You can stay in the program two years. At the end of that time, you have acquired the skills to get another job. — Job Counselor, El Centro

If this sounds good to you, call 312-6498.

GOOD JOB HARD TO FIND — I just graduated from Imperial Valley College and it is still hard to find a good job in Imperial County. I work 15 hours a week at a part-time job. I live with my parents. I could get another part-time job but going to school is more than a full-time job.

I have friends who have only have high school diplomas and they have good jobs because they know somebody. I don't. My point is you have to know somebody to get a good job. — Hardworking, Calexico

The point is your friends who went to work straight out of high school have a two-year head start on you. Don't discount the skills you can pick up on the job, skills that can move you up on the pay scale.

When you get your four-year degree, you're not going to be starting at the top but you'll be in a better position to work your way up. In the meantime, stop whining. You have a plan, so stick to it.

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