Campaign launched against mussel invasion

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By VIRGINIA HOLST/Montana State News

Canyon Ferry and Tiber reservoirs are being infested by mussels, and the state is doing everything it can to prevent them from spreading to other bodies of water.

Aquatic invasive mussels first arrived in Montana in 2016. Other states that have been infested by these pests have incurred millions of dollars in damage to facilities, as well as issues with water and other species health, according to the Montana Mussel Response Website.

“They can change the ecosystem in ways you don’t want the ecosystem to change,” according to Dan Malloy, a research scientist who studies the invasive species. These mussels feed on plankton, a major food source for sportfish, which may be problematic in Montana as the economy largely relies on fishermen.

Boaters and other recreational water users inadvertently transport Zebra and Quagga Mussel larva nearly every time that they don’t properly clean their equipment. Therefore, Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) is doing everything it can to prevent the dangers that tag along with these tag-alongs. More

Climbers are the face of unusual foundation

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BY MICHELLE BURGER/Montana State News

Mountain climbers Conrad Anker and Jimmy Chin recently lectured at Montana State University on behalf of the MSU leadership institute and the Khumbu Climbing Center. The talk focused on their growing success, their failures and their life after what has become regarded as their iconic ascent.

Conrad Anker, a renowned climber living in Bozeman, teamed up with filmmaker and producer Jimmy Chin to speak on behalf of the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation.

The Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation came to life following 2008 after the film Meru came out. The film documents two ascents, one unsuccessful in 2008 when they lost fellow climber Lowe, the other when Anker, Chin and Rennan Ozturk successfully ascended Meru’s famous peak with its shark fin features in 2011.

The movie Meru shed publicity on all the climbers, but more importantly about Anker. Anker serves on many boards for the area. He was able to connect to communities around the area to educate about the dangers he and his colleagues faced during the ascents. More

Mystery Ranch develops paratrooper backpack

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By TYLER BARTON/Montana State News

For decades, technology for parachute deployment has remained relatively stagnant. However, thanks to the efforts of local backpack manufacturer Mystery Ranch, that has changed. In March, Mystery Ranch released a new line of high-altitude jump packs that significantly reduce the baggage on military parachutists.

Mystery Ranch employee Liz O’Brien said, “The design for jump packs hasn’t changed much since Vietnam. This is the first major shift since then.”

With the inclusion of several carefully placed loops, Mystery Ranch’s efficient new design supplants the need for additional equipment that ensures lines connecting the chute deploy properly.

The new design will make U.S. military parachutist operations smoother and will free up space for mission-critical items.

Though the U.S. military has contracted Mystery Ranch packs for over a decade, beginning with Navy SEAL prototypes in 2004, they produce a variety of backpack styles for many different situations, including mountaineering, climbing, hunting, everyday use, and even heat-resistant packs designed especially for firefighters. More

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

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