County Commission calls for grizzly delisting

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By RANIA AMPNTEL CHAFINT/Montana State News

The Gallatin County Commission announced support to delist grizzly bears from the Endangered Species Act during their meeting on Tuesday, after hearing a presentation from HAVEN, a domestic violence victims advocacy group.

The grizzly bear population has grown in recent years to where it no longer needs to be listed as endangered. “The recovery of grizzly bears is a conservation success story that we all really need to proud of,” a representative from the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks said.

Delisting the animal would allow the states of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho to come up with a conservation strategy and implement hunting season regulations to manage the number of bears, according to the representative.

The County Commission agreed to sign a letter of support to delist the animal. “We now have a pretty good understanding of the current population and the sustainability of that population,” one commissioner said. More

Panel endorses opposition to elk feeding

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By JORDAN SPARR/Montana State News

The state Senate Fish and Game Commitee last month approved a resolution opposing the Wyoming practice of feeding elk in winter.

Senate Joint Resolution 8 was passed unanimously to formally address Wyoming on the matters of wild elk feeding grounds. Fish Wildlife and Game of Wyoming has been feeding herds of wild elk, which has caused the spread of brucellosis and wasting disease among the 20,000 elk that feed artificially on these public lands.

The joint resolution was made to formally address Wyoming on the matter of spreading these diseases to Montana elk populations. Two major points brought up to push the bill forward were that no other state is currently practicing this method of elk support, and that it is completely unnatural. More

Senate panel nixes bill on brucellosis status

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By MICHELLE BURGER/Montana State News

A state Senate committee tabled a measure that would remove brucellosis from the federal disease list.

Although this disease, which is carried by many wild elk and bison, can be transmitted from animals to humans, it is uncommon and can be cured easily. Some believe this disease still poses a lingering threat with over $3 billion already used trying to vaccinate cattle. SJ 19, introduced by Sen. Mike Phillips, D-Bozeman, was tabled by an 8-1 vote by the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Safety Committee.

According to testimony on the measure, many believe that once the disease is taken off the federal disease list, research will restart as scientists try to develop an effective vaccine. More

Return of wolves coincides with decline in elk

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By MERRIT GEARY and ZACH COE/Montana State News

Yellowstone National Park, 3,500 square miles of wilderness, surrounded by geysers, lush rivers, alpine forests, vast canyons and volcanic hot spots. Covering parts of Montana, and Wyoming Yellowstone has become a tourist attraction unlike any other place.

Yellowstone is not only known for its physical elements but also the abundance of animals that inhabit the land, wolves being a species that have been reintroduced to Yellowstone and surrounding areas. While dangerous in their own right, are they necessary for the ecosystem?

According to Yellowstone Nation Park’s website, in 2013 there were 61 different mammal species in Yellowstone, 500 Grizzly bears live in the Yellowstone ecosystem. There are about 13 packs of wolves which make up about 370 total for the population of wolves.

There are seven ungulate species in Yellowstone National Park-elk, mule deer, bison, moose, bighorn sheep, pronghorn and white tailed deer. More

Zebra mussels threaten state hydro systems

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By EMILY SCHABACKER and SAMANTHA SUNDLY/Montana State News

On the shores of Tiber and Canyon Ferry reservoirs in northern Montana, adult zebra mussels threaten indigenous aquatic life as of Fall of 2016. Without any natural predators in the region, zebra mussels threaten aquatic ecosystems and cause damage to man made hydropower systems.

After the discovery of invasive mussel larvae, known as veligers, in Tiber and Canyon Ferry Reservoirs in November, Gov. Steve Bullock declared a natural resources emergency, according to the Billings Gazette. This order provides state access to $750,000 in emergency funds to begin the eradication process.

Zebra mussels found in North America, typically indigenous to European regions, survive in waters with unusually low calcium levels, according to the United States Geological Survey. The mussels require calcium in order to transform from veligers to shellfish.

Calcium concentration is a key factor in mussel distribution, according to Andrew N. Cohen and Anne Weinstein, authors of Zebra Mussel’s Calcium Threshold and Implications for its Potential Distribution in North America. Zebra mussels in North America have been known to initiate shell growth in 10 milligrams of calcium per liter. More

Skydiving a game changer for unlikely jumper

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By ZACHARY COE/Montana State News

She sits in her cubical at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana and feels her mind beginning to drift. She sits in her usual work attire of black dress pants and a fancy pink and white blouse. She holds still and stares off into space as the monogamy of life is melting away in front of her while she ponders the question I asked her.

The mind of Lisa Jenkins begins drift as she tells me the details of that warm summer day in 1989.

Lisa Jenkins is a young, blonde woman who normally wears glasses, but not today. She is wearing a bright green jumpsuit as she enters the 20-person plane. Jenkins feels the anticipation of anxiety overcome her as she enters the plane and hears the engine begin to roar in front of her. The amazing piece of machinery begins to move and eventually blasts off the runway.

“Lisa, are you ready?” asks Dave, the tandem attached to her back. They approach the open plane door and prepare to jump like all the others did before her. All she can focus on his her breathing. Jenkins remembered the meeting, right after they made her sign the death warrant. If she did not breathe, she would pass out. More

Opinions split on removing grizzly protections

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By TIM STOVER/Montana State News

Grizzly bears are soon to be delisted from the Endangered Species List for the first time since 2007, according to the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

“The Yellowstone grizzly bear population has rebounded from as few as 136 bears in 1975 to an estimated 700 or more today,” according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

A species is considered “endangered if it is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range” and “it is considered threatened,” According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

As of now, the Grizzly bears are listed as a “threatened species.” The new proposition by U.S Fish and Wildlife Service will remove protection from the bears entirely.

Since the bear population has seemingly “maxed” population possibilities in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, delisting aims to move the management of the species to the states. More

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