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The Alameda County Fairgrounds race track is ready for a run unlike any other in the track's history. A Pamplona style event will have as many as 3,000 people running with bulls.
The event has drawn big crowds and controversy on its tour of eight cities so far around the U.S.
Rob Dickens the founder and Chief Operating Officer of the Great Bull Run event says the idea came to him after he wasn't able to book a trip to Pamplona himself.
"For most people here it's impossible to go to Pamplona to run with the bulls so why not bring something similar to the U.S.?" Dickens told KTVU Friday.
"You don't get many opportunities in our sedentary lives to experience true adrenaline, to experience to fear and to see how you'd react in those situations," Dickens said.
He has run in each of the eight events held so far and says there are some significant differences between his event and the ones in Spain.
For safety, there are points along the course where there are spaces to the side where people can run off the path. Dickens says only 750 people are allowed on the track, which is dirt or grass instead of hard pavement that is found in Spain which can cause injuries.
There are 20 bulls and 8 steers in the event, more than the half dozen or so used in Pamplona. Dickens also says the bulls are not whipped or prodded before running down the path.
He says the bulls do run fast, up to 30 miles an hour.
Russ Fields, President of Rowell Ranch Rodeo owns the ranch in Castro Valley where the bulls are staying during their West Coast tour.
"Some will hook you. There's a couple darn sure chase you up the side of the fence," Fields said as he showed KTVU the bulls that arrived from a ranch in Kentucky.
"It's crazy that something like that draws so many people," Fields told KTVU Friday.
As a longtime rancher, he had some advice for participants. "If you get in front of them, they might run you over, but I don't think they'll stop and camp on you," Fields said.
Opponents have raised questions about the safety of the event for the bulls and the people.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals filed a lawsuit on March 13th to stop the event.
An online petition at Change.Org reportedly drew more than 1,700 signatures.
Dickens admits there are risks but says so far there have been no serious injuries.
"We usually have two-three per event. Not serious injuries, concussions, scrapes, bruises. I believe we've had two-three broken bones out of 40,000 participants total," said Dickens.
The bulls will run four times Saturday and organizers are expecting last minute walk-ins.
Tickets are $75 at the gate to participate in the bull run.
Organizers say given the events' success, they plan to hold more bull runs in the U.S. next year.Fri, 25 Jul 2014 23:15:04 -0700
With high fire danger this weekend, Marin County's fire spotters will be keeping an especially sharp eye out for smoke.
"It's wonderful being up here, I never get tired of the view," Larry Levy told KTVU, from his perch at the top of Mount Tamalpais, 2,600 feet up, in a lookout tower built 80 years ago.
"It's a secret but world class destination," Levy joked, referring to the panoramic views stretching out before him. "People would spend a lot of money to spend the night in a place like this!"
Sixty-seven-year-old Levy and a rotating crew of volunteers staff Mt. Tam's lookout and another on nearby Mt. Barnaby. "You have to like the quiet, and like the solitude," acknowledged Levy, "I like being on the mountain, it's very easy for me."
It would be easy to get lost in the views, with the bridges and hustle bustle of Bay Area life laid out in a panorama.
"You know there's so much going on, and you don't hear any of it," smiled Levy, "I'm the fool on the hill, I'm above it, I'm above it all."
Levy's mission is serious - scanning Marin’s ridgelines for the wisp of smoke that in the right conditions could become a devastating wildfire.
“I'm watching most of the time.” He prefers the catwalk, because there's no window glare. He puts in about six days a month, rotating with other lookouts.
They're all volunteers, and they're not 100 percent staffed
“When I see smoke, I look through this end, and look through the crosshairs.” Levy has tools to map locations. He's seen smoke only once in his three seasons, but it doesn't ease his worry about the potential for a firestorm.
“A spark could set it off, and it's all fuel, all fuel, and there's nothing that could stop it,” he said.
After years of biking and hiking Mount Tam, the retired carpenter feels a personal connection.
“I give back, I protect the mountain as a way of saying thank you after all the pleasure the mountain gave me over the years.”
The fire lookouts on Mount Tam and nearby Mount Barnaby can stay overnight, but don't have to.
Levy says in a full moon - or immersed in fog it's magical, but most nights he prefers to go home to his wife.Fri, 25 Jul 2014 22:47:38 -0700
Workers at The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito report receiving more entangled animals this year compared to the last few years.
According to rescuers, they’ve treated 16 entangled animals so far this year. Last year, they saw just 15 animals, mostly sea lions tangled in fishing line and other trash. The year before that, they saw just 11.
In 2009, the Center saw more than 100 entangled animals. A spokesperson said the spike in 2009 corresponds with the higher overall number of animals they rescued that year.
“The animals are getting caught up in fishing gear or packing straps,” said Dr. Shawn Johnson, Director of Veterinary Science at The Marine Mammal Center. “They're coming in contact with all this fishing gear and ocean trash, and they're curious or they’re trying to catch fish in nets or something like that and they’re getting entangled.”
Folks at the center attribute the increase in part to new capture techniques they started using this spring – using a tranquilizer dart with a tracking device. They said that has helped them successfully rescue more entangled critters.
Earlier this week, rescuers captured a juvenile California sea lion from the Santa Cruz area that had become tangled in a large amount of fishing net.
“Over time, as she was growing and as she was eating, this gill net was not expanding. It was cutting through her tissues right around her ears,” said Johnson.
Dr. Johnson said the entanglement likely damaged her hearing, but she is now recovering at the center, and is expected to be released back into the wild next week.
Another sea lion was rescued several weeks ago with a crab trap stuck on its snout. The animal recovered after surgery and several weeks of rehabilitation, and was released back into the ocean at Rodeo Beach Friday morning.
Last year, rescuers tended to an elephant seal, found with a toilet seat stuck around its neck.
“We all hate to see these animals who have been influenced negatively by human impact,” said Johnson.
Rescuers hope increased awareness will lead to a decrease in injured animals.Fri, 25 Jul 2014 22:35:23 -0700 News Source: MedleyStory More Local News Stories