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Shooting into a large elk herd may not be illegal, but is it ethical?

Experts say, "not really."

But that's just what happened last weekend in the White's Gulch area on the east side of Canyon Ferry Reservoir outside Helena.

Fish, Wildlife and Parks Game Warden Justin Feddes says hunters spotted a herd of about 500 elk at first light on Sunday. Feddes reports they started shooting, which scattered the rest of the herd onto a mix of private and public lands.

The Breakthrough Institute

Whether you're raising cattle outside of Bozeman, growing coffee in India, or maintaining your lawn in Hamilton, you're producing and managing wildlife.

Researcher Paul Robbins says that's neither good nor bad - it's just a fact. Robbins is director of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconson-Madison.

Ryan Zinke

Ryan Zinke, Montana's new U.S. Representative spoke with MTPR Assistant News Director Edward O'Brien late Tuesday.

Zinke says he's ready to get to work in Congress representing the people of Montana.

"I understand the responsibility. You not only represent the people who voted for you, but you represent the folks that did not. I think it's time to roll up the sleeves and get things done."

libbymt.com

Voters in Montana’s cities can sometimes face long voting lines. We checked in with election officials in a couple of small towns to see how things are going for them.

"The turnout is brisk," Leigh Riggleman, Lincoln County Assistant Elections Administrator in Libby says. "Our polling stations seem to be very busy. Our front counter for late registration has been steady. (We) always like to see good voter turnout."

Riggleman says Lincoln County has roughly 13,000 registered voters and seven polling stations, but she says voting by mail is getting more popular every year.

Courtesy EPA

It will take more time before we learn about potential cleanup options at a former paper mill in Frenchtown.

Today was the Environmental Protection Agency's original deadline for the site's prior and current owners to present a "good faith" cleanup offer. The plant was in operation since the 1950’s. It was most recently owned by the Smurfit-Stone Container. The plant closed in 2010 and was purchased by M2 Green Redevelopment in 2011.

The Missoula City Council may vote tonight on a proposal that would allow the mayor to continue his effort to force the sale of the local water company to the city.

The Carlyle Group currently owns Mountain Water Company. A Canadian firm, Algonquin Power,  has entered into an agreement to purchase Mountain Water and its California based parent company for $327 million.

The city's attempt to use eminent domain to take ownership of Mountain Water has proven to be costly and raised a few eyebrows.

Grizzly bears in the Yellowstone ecosystem are close to losing their endangered species status.

Chris Servheen says that population is healthy, robust and ready for that transition.

Servheen is the Grizzly Bear Recovery Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

He and other members of an Interagency Grizzly Bear Management subcommittee met yesterday in Bozeman to discuss the status of Yellowstone grizzly bears.

Christian Engelstoft

Bat biologists are in a race against time. A fungal disease called White Nose Syndrome is killing bats by the millions.

Regional biologists are scrambling to collect baseline data on bat habitat, species, and populations before the disease gets a foothold in the northwest. The Canadian government asked conservation groups this summer to help study bats in British Columbia's Flathead River Valley.

Filmmaker Leanne Allison produced a five minute video documenting the resulting “Bat BioBlitz."

A fungal disease is wiping-out bats by the millions and it's spreading west.

Bat biologists gathered this summer in British Columbia's Flathead River Valley to take an inventory of local bat species and habitat.

During the so-called "BioBlitz", they detected two species of bat that are considered endangered and particularly vulnerable to the fatal White Nose fungus.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (CC-BY-ND)

A hunter unloading a gun accidentally shot his 56-year-old companion in the Brown's Gulch area north of Butte last weekend.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks game warden Sergeant Aaron Berg says a lot of people are now in the backcountry carrying high-powered rifles. Meaning everyone, hunting or not, should wear that bright hunter orange; 400 square inches of it to be exact.

Berg adds that those carrying rifles have the responsibility to use them properly.

USDA

Hundreds of Montana farmers are in Great Falls discussing issues that affect not only their bottom line, but our food supply.

The 99-year-old Montana Farmers Union is holding its annual meeting and convention that lasts through tomorrow. Farmers face challenges that go far beyond crop yields and market prices.

Have you received an official-looking mailer that rates the political leanings of Montana's four nonpartisan Supreme Court candidates?

If so, take a close look at it; the flier features an image of Montana's state seal and compares the candidates' political ideologies to those of President Obama and former Republican Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

Problem is, it's a fake. The state of Montana has nothing to do with these mailers.

Fewer homes sold in the Missoula area during the first three quarters of this year compared to the same time last year, but a local real estate official says he's not too worried.

In fact, Brint Wahlberg says Missoula's housing market continues its steady recovery.

Republican Congressman Steve Daines didn't respond to Democrat Amanda Curtis's jabs during last night’s U.S. Senate debate in Billings.

Curtis said several times that Daines is too extreme for Montana and represents corporate interests over average Montanans. She says it's time to send a working-class Montanan to represent the state in Washington D.C.

Curtis also said Daines' vote last year to shut down the federal government during a budget stalemate hurt Montanans.

Josh Burnham (CC-BY-2.0)

It turns out 145 genetically pure bison captured from Yellowstone National Park will stay in Montana.

Several out-of-state entities wanted those animals.

Charting the Path of the Deadly Ebola Virus in Central Africa. PLoS Biol 3/11/2005: e403 doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0030403 (CC-BY-2.5)

Governor Steve Bullock says he's confident that should Missoula's Providence Saint Patrick hospital be asked to treat an Ebola patient, it would provide top notch care.

St.Pat's is one of four hospitals in the country specifically prepared to care for someone with such a highly infectious disease.

As we reported yesterday, some people who work there aren’t sure the hospital is adequately prepared to accept an Ebola case.

Bell & Jeff (CC-BY-2.0)

The U.S. Forest Service's Northern Region met its timber harvest goal last year. That’s the first time that has happened in over 14 years.

Regional Forester Faye Krueger says Region One, which includes Montana, harvested about 280 million board feet of timber.

Krueger says a major factor in the agency reaching its goal is that it's  overhauled its litigation strategy.

Edward O'Brien

Governor Steve Bullock's early childhood education proposal received an enthusiastic response today at a Missoula pre-kindergarten program, even as critics are wondering about its expense and value to taxpayers.

Missoula City Website

The news that a nurse has contracted the first-ever case of Ebola transmitted in the United States could make it more likely that any future Ebola patients in the United States might come to Missoula. That nurse in Dallas became infected while caring for a patient from west Africa.

MEA-MFT Facebook page

Montana public school students have a short week so their teachers can attend a two-day conference in Missoula this Thursday and Friday. Up to 3,000 teachers will participate in the annual Montana Education Association-Montana Federation of Teachers conference. The MEA-MFT teachers' union vice president Melanie Charlson says this conference is anything but some sort of a vacation for teachers.

"You want to make certain that all of your professionals are honing their skills," says Charlson.

Thomas Helbig (CC-BY-2.0)

Chess Masters from across Western Montana convene in Kalispell tomorrow for the 15th annual Flathead Chess Championship.

The Blackfeet Community College chess team will be among the competitors looking to take home the grand prize and bragging rights.

The team was formed last year and won an overall national tournament. It also won 1st and 3rd in individual rounds at the same event. 

Chess team coach Dr. Mark Anderson says the club is attracting students despite stiff competition for their attention by gadgets and videogames.

The U.S. Army War College has revoked Senator Walsh's graduate status.

The New York Times reported in July that Walsh had plagiarized over 25 percent of his final paper needed to earn a master’s degree from the United States Army War College in 2007.

Courtesy Photo

Montana’s commissioner of political practices says Missoula County Sheriff candidate T.J. McDermott violated campaign finance laws.

McDermott has a very different interpretation of what that means than does his political opponent, Josh Clark.

Clark filed complaints about McDermott’s campaign practices in August.

Josh Burnham-cc-by-2.0

Bison management always spurs passionate debate in Montana and a meeting tomorrow in Great Falls will consider whether wild herds should be established outside of Yellowstone National Park.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is considering that possibility.

Conservationist Keith Aune says he thinks Montana can develop a good plan. Aune's director of the Wildlife Conservation Society's bison programs.

MT OPI

Public school students and faculty are dealing with more than just academics today; they're also struggling with bullying and various mental and emotional health issues.

The Montana Office of Public Instruction announced today it's been awarded three grants worth over $12 million to address those needs.

School Superintendent Denise Juneau says a 5-year "School Climate Transformation" grant worth over $3 million will help reduce bullying in schools. It will also provide adults with clear guidelines on what to do when they see students being intimidated.

Folf Course Fire

Oct 5, 2014
Crystal Beckman

A fire was reported today just after 1:00 up Roman Ceek Road, north of Frenchtown and Interstate 90. The fire is named the Folf Course Fire, approximately 7 acres and cause of the fire is unknown. The fire is being fought by land and air support has been ordered. The fire is burning in grass and moving towards timber, the terrain is steep and potential high winds are a concern.

Montana's U.S. House candidates squared-off this weekend for their third - and arguably liveliest - debate.

Democrat John Lewis and Republican Ryan Zinke repeatedly drew sharp contrasts throughout Saturday evening's debate in Bozeman, starting with the question of how to best respond to the rise of Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria.

Zinke repeated his long-held stance that he'd prefer to fight the militants in the deserts of Iraq than here in America. Lewis called that a "simplistic" viewpoint:

www.CGPGrey.com by/2.0

It was yet another expensive wildfire-fighting season, but early estimates indicate it won't be as spendy as some others in recent memory. Forest Service spokesman Larry Chambers says preliminary estimates show the Forest Service went $200 million over budget this season. Congress authorized the agency to spend $995 million on fire suppression this fiscal year.  That's compared to about $3 billion in recent years. Forest Service Region One spokeswoman Heather Noel says we were lucky this year.

Flicker User ambib (CC-BY-NC)

Billings residents and Missoulians are next in line to weigh in on Montana's climate plan. Governor Steve Bullock asked the Montana Department of Environmental Quality to analyze potential ways the state can comply with E.P.A's proposed Clean Power Plan.

State regulators were in Colstrip yesterday, the heart of Montana coal country, for a public meeting on a draft rule limiting carbon pollution in Montana.

Montana Associated Press reporter Matthew Brown attended yesterday's meeting at Colstrip High School.

Meg O'Leary

Governor Steve Bullock’s eight day trade mission to China has concluded and participants say Montana still has a lot to learn about conducting business there.

Montana exported over $100 million worth of goods to China last year, but state officials say we can do more.

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