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

Fort Ellis: A short chapter in Bozeman’s history

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By BAY STEPHENS/Montana State News

Fort Ellis holds onto history by a brief existence, its birth brought about by the fear of native tribes. It’s demise came by the relegation of these tribes to reservations.

According to Rachel Phillips, research coordinator of the Gallatin History Museum, Fort Ellis’ story begins with a group of frontiersman whose names remain in the city of Bozeman: Daniel Rouse, William Beall and of course, John Bozeman.

In the 1850s, Beall and Rouse busied themselves with building log cabins for the wagon caravan of settlers that Bozeman was bringing west to start a Montana settlement.

He guided them along what would later become the Bozeman Trail. At the time, it was an illegal route that passed through lands held through treaty by Native American tribes, Phillips said.

In 1867, accompanied by a man named Tom Cover, Bozeman travelled along the Bozeman Trail trying to secure beef and flour contracts with Army posts along the way. However, only Cover returned to the young settlement. More

Bill proposed to address sex trafficking

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By ZACHARY COE/Montana State News

A bill to prevent sex trafficking in Montana was presented to the state House Judiciary Committee Wednesday.

Senate Bill 197 is proposed to prevent girls from being abducted from public institutions and sold into sex trafficking. It would require the Office of Public Instruction in collaboration with law enforcement and Montana Department of Health and Human Services, to support schools educating students on the dangers of sex trafficking a district policy.

The bill will be funded through the Department of Justice, as Health Education. Specialists will need to be brought into to educate public schools, and will have a net expenditure of around $90,000 per year with zero net revenue received. The price will fluctuate each year while considering inflation, but should level out around the desired price range for the foreseeable future. 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

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

AG rules Missoula gun ordinance illegal

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By CULLAN STAACK/Montana State News

Montana’s Attorney General Tim Fox says Missoula’s controversial gun background check ordinance, passed in September, violates Montana state law.

The law in question requires private gun owners to complete a background check before selling a gun within Missoula city limits. Essentially, a background check on the buyer must be completed before a legal sale of a gun can occur, even between friends or colleagues.

Support for the ordinance originated in the local chapter of the Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America advocacy group, which presented the Missoula City Council with data about the incidence of suicides and acts of intimate partner violence committed using guns that were not legally allowed to be in a person’s possession. More

Berkeley Pit on track to overflow soon

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By EMILY SCHABACKER/ Montana State News 

Toxic water levels approach maximum capacity in Butte’s Berkeley Pit, potentially threatening the city’s groundwater system by 2023. Montana’s environmental advocacy groups have started looking for clean up or containment methods for the abandoned copper mine.

After the mine closed in 1982, rain and groundwater flooded underground shafts, forcing contaminated water to accumulate in the pit. The acidic pond stretches one mile long by a half mile wide and reaches down more than 1,700 feet.

Current water levels reach 5,336 feet above sea level, 74 feet below maximum capacity as determined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Act, according to the website Pit Watch: Berkeley Pit News and Info. More

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