Montana News

News from the state of Montana.

Wildlife officials say bears are becoming more active as they search for food before hibernation

A grizzly bear in Stillwater County had to be shot after it killed a herd of cows. Wildlife officials say bears are becoming more active as they search for food before hibernation. The bear was responsible for a dozen cattle deaths in the Fishtail and Fiddler Creek area since mid August. It was killed by U.S. Wildlife Services officials late last week.

Montana State Hospital in Warm Springs.
Courtesy Montana State Hospital

New details are emerging about a doctor who has just been suspended from the State Hospital at Warm Springs and Montana Chemical Dependence Center in Butte.

West Fork Fish Creek Fire Causing Smokey Skies

4 hours ago
Smoke in the sky west of Missoula is coming from the West Fork Fish Creek Fire, officials say.
Saxon Holbrook

Wondering where the smoke west of Missoula is coming from today? The Frenchtown Rural Fire Chief says it's from islands of un-burned fuel from the West Fork Fish Creek fire which was discovered August 14, 2015.

Non-Profit Announces $20 Million Prize For CO2 Innovation

Oct 5, 2015

In July, the Missoula company Sunburst Sensors won a one-point-five million dollar XPRIZE for inventing a device to measure ocean acidification related to global warming. Last week a new, $20 million XPRIZE competition was announced. Its goal is to find ways to transform carbon dioxide from an atmospheric pollutant into useful, everyday products.

Gianforte Raises $255K For Possible Governor Run

Oct 5, 2015
Greg Gianforte at his home in Bozeman
Eric Whitney

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Greg Gianforte's exploratory campaign says the Republican has raised $255,000 since he announced a possible run for governor in mid-August.

Montana officials are seeking permission to offer a wolf trapping course online. The safety and education course is a requirement for anybody who wants to trap a wolf in the state.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (CC-BY-2)

Montana officials are seeking permission to offer a wolf trapping course online after seeing class participation decline over the last two years. The safety and education course is a requirement for anybody who wants to trap a wolf in the state. Once they pass, certification is good for life.

Two Medicine Lake and Sinopah Mountain.
David Restivo, NPS (PD)

Glacier National Park is moving into its autumn schedule and preparing for winter as Park visitation is slowly declining into the fall.

Sunday was the last day cars could access Logan Pass from the east side of the park.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau visited Heart Butte last week to kick off the Schools of Promise program. She talked with students, parents and school staff about what the million dollar grant means for the school.
Corin Cates-Carney

One of Montana’s lowest achieving schools is in line to receive over a million dollars in aid, starting next year.

Heart Butte High School and its 48 enrolled students are the newest recipients of the federally funded grant known as the Schools of Promise Initiative.

Josh Burnham

The University of Montana announced today that enrollment is still declining, with this fall semester's headcount down nearly 600 students since last fall. Total current enrollment is now at just over 13,000.

The Flathead County Sheriff’s office has identified the 8-year-old-girl who died in a motor home fire yesterday.

Her name is Autumn Hawk.

Undersheriff Dave Lieb said dispatch received a report of a “fire and explosions” near Foys Lake a little before 10:00 am yesterday. When firefighters arrived they found a motorhome engulfed in flames.

Corin Cates-Carny

A week before their homecoming game, the Missoula Sentinel Spartans are on the practice field. The defensive line is practicing their blocking on a giant metal sled that vaguely resembles the shape of an opposing offensive line. It’s heavy, but the Spartan D-Line push it a few yards at the sound of the whistle.

Last week Governor Steve Bullock announced a new, multi-million dollar initiative to reform child protective services in Montana.

That’s the system that follows up on reports of child abuse and neglect. About 1,400 reports a year like that come in. Montana’s Child and Family Services Division can recommend that kids in those situations can be placed in foster care for their own protection.

Air quality has been poor in some NW Montana towns today.
Montana DEQ

The air quality in Thompson Falls and Libby has improved today, but Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality says 24-hour cumulative exposure in Thompson Falls remains “very unhealthy,” and in Libby the cumulative exposure reading is “unhealthy.”

Fall Raptor Migration Underway

Oct 1, 2015
Whitney Hall. Courtesy of the Montana Raptor Conservation Center

This is the 25th consecutive season that the Montana Audubon has counted raptors migrating through the state. Executive director Steve Hoffman says so far, they’ve seen a 30-50 percent increase in the numbers of birds of prey they track.

“We’re seeing, actually, a very strong flight of birds," Hoffman says, "and our counts are well ahead of what we’ve seen over the last few years”

'Unbranded' Tells The Story Of Conflict Around Wild Horses

Oct 1, 2015
Courtesy Fin and Furs Films and Gravitas Ventures

A film documenting the journey of four men who rode adopted wild horses across the country will have a screening in Billings Friday.

The film “Unbranded” is being shown across the country.

A Neptune Aviation next-generation air tanker drops retardant on a fire
Jonah Curtin/Neptune Aviation

Missoula’s Neptune Aviation has won the largest of three contracts to supply next-generation air tankers to the U.S. Forest Service to fight fires.

A hiker was injured by a grizzly bear in Glacier National Park Tuesday.

A hiker in Glacier National Park was grabbed and shaken by a grizzly bear Tuesday. The Park says his injuries were not life threatening.

Eric Whitney

Last week Montana’s Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen approved big price increases for some health insurance plans in the state – increases from 5 percent to more than 30 percent higher than last year.

To find out who exactly those rate increases do and don’t apply to, and why the rate increases are so big, we talked to Commissioner Lindeen’s General Counsel Christina Goe.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund which uses fees paid by offshore oil and gas drilling companies for conservation programs, has suffered a significant defeat in Congress.

In Heart Butte, the grant money will be spent over three years to improve class curriculum, effective teaching and make the school more welcoming to students and their parents.

The next stage in a federal grant program aimed at improving Montana’s lowest performing schools took another step Tuesday.

The Schools of Promise initiative has given millions of dollars to poor performing schools since 2010. All of those schools happen to be on Native reservations.

Sean Robb

The University of Montana's four sororities and seven fraternities will be taking a month-long break from social events involving alcohol.

Oil Crash Raises New Fears About Abandoned Wells

Sep 29, 2015
An abandoned coal bed methane well sits in a pool of water on the outskirts of Gillette, Wyoming.
Stephanie Joyce/Wyoming Public Radio

When energy booms bust, the public is often left responsible for the cleanup. That’s because while most states and the federal government make companies put up at least some money in advance to pay for any mess they leave behind, it’s often not enough.

Missoula city and county leaders want to know what the public thinks about their ideas reduce the county’s jail population.
Courtesy Missoula County Detention Center

Missoula city and county leaders want to know what the public thinks about their ideas reduce the county’s jail population.

Missing Bowhunter Found Dead, Autopsy Planned

Sep 28, 2015

BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — An eight-day search for a Kalispell man who went missing during a bow hunting trip in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest ended over the weekend with the discovery of his body about a mile uphill from his pickup truck.

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Jean A. Turnage, former chief of the Montana Supreme Court and the first Native American elected to statewide office, died of natural causes Sunday in Ronan, his son Lloyd Turnage said. He was 89.

Update On The Fire Burning Near Clinton

Sep 28, 2015
Wildfire burning near I-90 mile marker 120 near Clinton, MT.
Dave Dennis

A wildfire burning close to I-90 near Clinton has died down some since yesterday, according to Jordan Koppen, DNRC fire information officer. Koppen says a helicopter dropped water on the fire this morning, and the plan for today is to "put out hotspots and keep an eye on it."

Bell & Jeff (CC-BY-2.0)

Ninety employees of Tricon Timber in St. Regis were laid off Friday. The company's website says it’s one of the largest employers in western Montana's Mineral county.

Brad Johnson, former Montana secretary of state, current chair of the state Public Service Commission, and now candidate for governor.
Josh Burnham

Last week Brad Johnson formally announced his candidacy for governor. A former Montana secretary of state, he currently serves as chair of the state Public Service Commission. He joined Montana Public Radio's Eric Whitney for an interview.

The first round of recipients for the 2016 funds includes a $100,000  building expansion for the Missoula Carousel.
Natemford (CC-BY-SA-3)

Governor Steve Bullock and the Montana Department of Commerce announced the first round of tourism grants under a new program it launched on July 1.

Wildfires are impacting air quality in Libby and Thompson Falls.
Montana DEQ

The Department of Environmental Quality is reporting unhealthy air quality in Libby this afternoon. It says the air in Thompson Falls is unhealthy for sensitive groups.