Cannons, laser, radars planned to keep birds from toxic pit
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — After thousands of snow geese died in the toxic water of a former open-pit mine in Montana last fall, the companies responsible for the pit are bringing out the big guns. Literally.
Montana Resources and BP-owned Atlantic Richfield Co. are buying propane cannons triggered by long-range motion sensors as one additional measure to keep birds away from the Berkeley Pit during the spring migration.
Also in the plan are radars, air and water drones and strategically positioned lasers that would create a “net” across the pit and deter the birds from landing in the metal-laden water.
The plan is outlined in a memo submitted last month to federal environmental and wildlife officials. The companies are seeking approval to test the technologies during the spring migration season that began Wednesday.
Maryland Zoo now home for 2 grizzly bear cubs from Montana
BALTIMORE (AP) — The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is now home to two grizzly bear cubs from Montana.
The zoo says the bears were found trying to survive in the wild without their mother and that the decision was made to capture both cubs in September 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 zoo says the cubs’ mother was later found with shotgun wounds to her face and was euthanized.
The bears arrived at the zoo in late December and were in quarantine for a month. The zoo’s general curator Mike McClure says the cubs are probably around 11 months old and are on permanent loan from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
The Latest: Ben Carson clears initial Senate test vote
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has given its initial approval to President Donald Trump’s choice to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Ben Carson. Carson’s actual confirmation vote is likely Thursday.
Carson, a celebrated African-American neurosurgeon and candidate in last year’s GOP presidential primary, cleared a preliminary Senate hurdle on a bipartisan 62-37 vote.
Carson won bipartisan support last month in the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. Republicans praised his life story, growing up in inner-city Detroit with a single mother who had a third-grade education. Some Democrats welcomed Carson’s promises to address lead hazards in housing, homelessness and other issues.
Carson will lead a sprawling agency with some 8,300 employees and a current budget of about $47 billion — though it’s facing big cuts under Trump.
Women from Helena, Havre killed in crash near Big Sandy
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Montana Highway Patrol says a 61-year-old Helena woman and a 43-year-old Havre woman were killed in a head-on crash on U.S. Highway 87 near Big Sandy.
The patrol says the Helena woman was southbound at about 2:45 p.m. Tuesday when her vehicle crossed the center line and into the path of the Havre woman’s Jeep. Both women died on impact. Their names have not been released.
A passenger in the Havre woman’s Jeep was flown to Benefis Health System in Great Falls. The patrol had no information about that person’s injuries.
Body of man in Yellowstone River identified
COLUMBUS, Mont. (AP) — Stillwater County authorities have identified the man who may have fallen into the Yellowstone River in December as 54-year-old Christopher Vacca, of Columbus.
His body was recovered last week. Authorities had been searching since Dec. 13.
Sheriff Cliff Brophy says the cause of death is still being investigated. However, authorities say there are no signs of foul play.
Governor signs bills addressing criminal justice costs
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Gov. Steve Bullock has signed a package of bills that seek to reduce costs within the criminal justice system and help reduce recidivism.
One bill calls for the Office of Public Defender to establish a pilot project that would get clients in touch with social workers and other services that might help address the reasons they got in trouble with the law.
One bill would allow jail inmates free phone calls to their attorneys, saving the public defender’s office about $35,000 a year in collect calls.
Another bill signed Wednesday eliminates the requirement to appoint a public defender for an unknown parent in child abuse and neglect cases, which could save the state about $100,000 annually.
A fourth bill allows criminal records for juvenile offenders to be shared electronically, rather than on paper.