Maryland Zoo’s 2 grizzly bear cubs get names: Nova and Nita
BALTIMORE (AP) — The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore now has names for its two grizzly bear cubs that came to the zoo from Montana.
The zoo says in a statement that the orphaned bear sisters are now Nova and Nita. The zoo says Nova is a Native American word that means “chasing butterflies” while Nita means “bear.” Over 6,000 people voted on the bears’ names.
The bears were found last year trying to survive in the wild without their mother and they were captured after it was clear one cub was failing. A veterinarian discovered that the smaller of the cubs had been shot and it was treated. The cubs’ mother was later found with shotgun wounds to her face and was euthanized.
The cubs arrived at the Maryland Zoo in December.
Would-be candidates win court case, still won’t be on ballot
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A judge has agreed with three would-be candidates who want to run in Montana’s May 25 special congressional election that they didn’t have enough time to gather all of the voter signatures required by the state.
Even so, their names still won’t be on the ballot.
U.S. District Judge Brian Morris’ order Saturday reduced the number of required voter signatures from 14,268 to 400.
But none of the three men who sued to get on the ballot turned in even that many signatures by the March 6 deadline.
That means nobody will be added to the ballot in the race between Democrat Rob Quist, Republican Greg Gianforte and Libertarian Mark Wicks, unless an appeals court intervenes.
The state faces a Monday deadline to mail ballots to military and overseas voters.
VA: Vets won’t be left homeless if Montana facility closes
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Federal officials say eight veterans living in a Helena facility won’t be left homeless if the facility shuts down.
The Helena Independent Record reported Sunday that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says it will make sure arrangements are made for long-term housing for the residents.
The Montana Veterans Foundation, which operates the Willis Cruse Transitional Facility, plans to sell the building after the VA reduced its funding. The foundation says the lower funding level isn’t enough to pay the bills.
The foundation has been speaking with another organization, Spring Meadow Resources, about taking over the program.
Spring Meadow operates six group homes and two apartment complexes for people with developmental disabilities.
[Montana man sent back to prison on sex assault conviction]
KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — A Montana man convicted in 1997 of sexually assaulting two underage girls has been ordered back to prison after a judge said he violated terms of his parole.
The Daily Interlake reports 58-year-old William Lester Rardon was told to return to prison by the end of last week.
Rardon had served 17 years of a 37-year sentence when he was released. His parole officer said in a March hearing that Rardon had lost his job because of sexual harassment allegations and had photos on a cellphone of an infant girl.
The parole officer, Shellie Stichman, testified that Rardon was a danger to the community and should be in prison.
The director of a community-based sex offender treatment program, Robert Bakko, testified that Rardon hadn’t been rehabilitated and needed further treatment.
Judge won’t dismiss homicide counts against Montana doctor
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A Montana judge has refused to drop charges of negligent homicide against a physician accused of prescribing narcotics without checking patients’ medical history.
The Missoulian reports the judge on Wednesday rejected defense arguments that prosecutors failed to show probable cause to believe Chris Christensen’s decision to prescribe methadone caused the death of two patients.
The 69-year-old doctor also faces 389 counts of criminal distribution of dangerous drugs and nine counts of criminal endangerment. The judge rejected a defense motion to drop those counts as well.
Christensen was arrested in August 2015 after a year-long investigation that included a raid on his clinic in Florence.
His trial is scheduled for October.
Anti-suicide bills moves forward in Montana Legislature
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Legislation aimed at reducing the number of suicides by Native youth in Montana could soon head to the governor’s desk for his signature.
The state Senate on Saturday overwhelmingly endorsed a bill by Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy that seeks to provide additional resources to anti-suicide programs across tribal lands. It would authorize grants using existing money from special revenue account.
Montana has among the highest rates of suicide in the country over the past four decades. The state has a rate twice the national average.
A state report released last year identified 555 known suicides in the state between Jan. 1, 2014 and March 1, 2016.
The bill has already passed the House and is the only suicide-related legislation still pending in the current session.