Edward O'Brien

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The Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation

The U.S House has approved a $585 billion defense bill that includes unrelated provisions to expand wilderness areas. The vote was 300 to 119.

The measure allows President Obama to expand America's military mission against Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria. It now moves to the Senate where some Republicans object to the unrelated wilderness measures announced yesterday.

Montana's congressional delegation heralded the suite of included land bills as a historic, rare display of collaboration and Congressional bipartisanship. Some Montana environmental groups agree.

Courtesy Montana Legislature

A state lawmaker says he wants to introduce legislation to address ongoing hunting violations in Montana. Republican state Representative Kelly Flynn lives near Townsend where a second so-called "crowd-shooting" incident took place last week.

Flickr user Bitterroot (CC-BY-NC-2.0)

Montana's Senators and Senator-elect today announced what they're calling a “landmark” package of public lands legislation. It's being tacked on to a Defense authorization bill that the House and Senate are expected to vote on this week and next.

There’s been another “crowd shooting” incident involving a herd of elk in Montana.

Broadwater County Undersheriff Wynn Meehan says that on Thanksgiving day hundreds of elk near Townsend were hazed by trucks for at least five miles before getting boxed-in and fired on by dozens of Montanans. 

Some of the elk eventually split-off from the main herd, but were immediately pursued into adjacent private land near Highway 12.

Meehan says the trouble resumed first thing Friday morning:

Courtesy Photo

A Montana state lawmaker says the Markus Kaarma trial is proof that Montana’s expanded Castle Doctrine needs to be repealed.

"It's a terrible idea that has tragic consequences where we see people shooting first and asking questions later with immunity," said Missoula Democrat Ellie Boldman-Hill.

Edward O'Brien

The trial of Missoula's Markus Kaarma will likely renew debate about the "Castle Doctrine".

University of Montana law professor, Andrew King-Ries says the specific term, "Castle Doctrine", isn't mentioned in state statute.

"I think what people refer to when they say 'The Castle Doctrine' is the ability to use force to defend an occupied structure; and by 'occupied structure', most people are thinking about their home," says King-Ries.

Outbuildings are included in that definition.

Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribal wildlife managers expect to have the updated, 5-year wolf management plan finalized by the end of January.

It focuses on wolves found on the Flathead reservation and is separate from the plan the state of Montana uses to manage other wolf populations.   

Summer surveys and observations suggest there are a minimum of 30 wolves on the reservation, but Tribal Wildlife Program Manager, Dale Becker, says it's difficult to pin-down a specific head count.

A Helena immigration attorney estimates there at least 20,000 immigrants in Montana; some are here legally, others not.

Shahid Haque-Hausrath says some are working in eastern Montana's oil patch. Seasonal workers are a staple of the Flathead cherry harvest. Immigrants perform year-round agricultural labor in Dillon. Others work construction jobs in Billings and the Gallatin Valley.

Haque-Hausrath says President Obama's recent executive action on immigration came as a welcome development to his clients.

United States Fish and Wildlife Service

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes are updating their gray wolf management plan. A public comment period ended last Friday.

Tribal Wildlife Program Manager, Dale Becker, estimates there are about 30 wolves on the Flathead reservation.  

Becker says few people commented on the draft management plan this year, but those who did were passionate about it.

Courtesy Photo Border Crossing Law Firm

A Helena immigration attorney says the phones at his Border Crossing law firm were ringing off the hook today. Shahid Haque-Hausrath says his clients are thrilled with President Obama's executive action on immigration.

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