Rangers at California's Redwood National and State Park are now taking desperate measures to stop poachers from dismembering coastal redwoods to support, among other things, their drug addictions.
The rangers say they've had to close areas of the park from sunset to sunrise and increase their patrols to prevent criminals, mostly drug users, from poaching the legendary trees. (Via KTVU)
With increased frequency, poachers have been sneaking into the park at night on ATVs and hacking off redwood burls — large, knotted pieces of wood that protrude from the trees' trunks. (Via Fox News)
Rangers say many of those they've caught committing the crime, which could amount to a felony, were selling desirable redwood pieces as a way to support their drug habits.
One park ranger told Digital Journal: "When I interview suspects, that is the (reason) they say: their addiction to drugs and they can't find jobs."
Ninety-five percent of the redwood tree population has been cut down over the last 150 years, the remaining 5 percent is now protected in state parks.
The Huffington Post explains redwood burls are valuable because they're large enough to build tables and other pieces of furniture. California's coastal redwoods in particular are "prized for their beauty, age and size."
The trees can live to be thousands of years old, grow more than 350 feet tall and are also fire resistant. Recent studies also suggest they're the best trees at capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. (ViaYouTube / Steven Poe)
That makes them invaluable in the battle against climate change. Redwood burls are desired for their marbled appearance, and can sell for as much as $3 a pound.
For the first time ever, an asteroid has been photographed breaking apart in space.
NASA's Hubble telescope was able to capture images between October and January showing the asteroid gradually crumbling into 10 smaller pieces.
The biggest chunk is 650 ft. in diameter. And the leftover bits weigh a total of 200,000 tons. (Via European Space Agency / Hubble)
In a news release from HubbleSite, lead study author David Jewitt says this kind of breakup hasn't been observed before. "Seeing it fall apart before our eyes is pretty amazing."
The asteroid, called P/2013 R3, was first spotted in the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars in September. The Keck Observatory took photos of it when it appeared to be only three objects in a cloud of dust. It was so odd that the Hubble telescope was called to the task.
Jewitt blames what he calls "quite pathetic radiation" for the disintegration. According to the Los Angeles Times, small numbers of photons have been bouncing off the asteroid for billions of years, and that was enough to break it apart.
Discovery helps explain the process: The sun warms one side of the asteroid, creating infrared radiation that makes the object spin more quickly over time. "Should the spinning become faster than the structure of the asteroid can hold itself together, centrifugal forces can literally rip it apart."
In other words, it was a gradual build up over millennia that caused the asteroid to spin itself to death. NASA created a graphic showing what the whole asteroid might have looked like just last year. The chunks are drifting away from one another at the leisurely pace of about one mile an hour. Most of the pieces from the space rock will end up colliding with the sun, but a few of them could fall into Earth's orbit as meteors.
A woman in Texas is taking the high road when it comes to her cheating husband — and taking out an ad.
Check this out — "I would lie to say congratulations to Shara Cormier and Patrick Brown...They are expecting a baby. Hope you both are really in love and I hope it works out." Signed by Patrick's wife, Timeshia Brown. (Via Daily Mail)
And we're calling it hilarious. It's unclear exactly when the ad was published, but the pic was posted earlier this week. If it wasn't a prank, we say well done, Timeshia.
We saw a similar move last March, when a woman named Jennifer bought a billboard to advertise the GPS tracker that helped catching her cheating husband. (Via New York Daily News)
While this ad might be smaller in size, it's classier in wording, which we sort of love. And as the Metro points out, it gets the job done.
No one seems to have tracked down Timeshia yet, but according to the Dallas Morning News, the ad was posted in a Texas newspaper.
Bottom line — maybe next time he'll think before he cheats.
A SUV overturned and burst into flames in the eastbound direction of the San Francisco Bay Bridge early Friday, triggering a massive traffic backup leaving the city.
The three-vehicle collision between a red pickup truck, a silver sedan and another vehicle was reported at 7:39 a.m. near Treasure Island at the height of the morning rush hour, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Three eastbound lanes were initially blocked. Two lanes reopened as of 8:24 a.m. and one lane will remain closed because of a previously planned Caltrans closure, according to the CHP.
An ambulance was at the scene because at least one person involved in the crash suffered minor injuries.
A Sig Alert was issued for the eastbound bridge commute and remained in effect beyond the normal end of the rush hour.
Dublin's mayor and police chief went before an overflow crowd Thursday evening, to address the recent spate of home burglaries, including one in which an elderly woman was tied up while her home was ransacked.
"We take this very, very serious, when someone ties up a poor person, that's serious, " Chief Tom McCarthy told an audience that packed the City Council Chambers, filling every seat and spilling onto the floor.
The chief immediately announced that two men were in custody as possible suspects in Monday night's incident in the Positano neighborhood of East Dublin.
"We did surveillances, identified, and have taken two people into custody within 24 hours," McCarthy said, "And we're now doing simultaneous search warrants in two different cities."
The chief said the men in gloves and ski masks who broke into the house on Cerreto Street were as surprised to see the elderly homeowner as she was to see them. It was 9 p.m., and she'd gone to bed. They had knocked, gotten no answer, and assumed no one was home. The resident was not injured in the home invasion.
Burglaries are up everywhere, said McCarthy as he rattled off some of the neighboring jurisdictions, which are sharing information with each other to try to make arrests.
Some citizens who attended the meeting called for more police officers or a substation closer to the east side of town. They notes that their neighborhood was still growing with new housing and needs a visible police presence.
"We've made the calls and no one ever comes, "complained resident Del Andres.
The chief responded that residents often call dispatch, but decline to be contacted by an officer. He urged people to follow through, be available to law enforcement and insisted that Dublin's police numbers have kept pace with its population.
"I can't put an officer out there full-time," the chief said, "because he'd be on one street and something would be happening on another street. I have to keep my officers mobile."
Others at the meeting wondered if budget constraints were the real reason Dublin doesn't have more officers.
"We're just saying, as a community, is it money?" asked resident Kirt Stoffer, "then say 'we need more money.”
City officials insist that at 1.3 officers per 1,000 residents, Dublin is actually above average compared to similar communities.
McCarthy recommends installing home surveillance systems to help deter and track down burglars. And since thieves have taken to entering through second story windows to evade cameras and alarms, he advises tightening defenses.
"If you don't have alarms on your second-floor windows, I'm telling you now – put them on," he said.
And he admonished those who leave doors and windows unlocked while away from their homes to lock-up, the easiest prevention of all.