Commission: Child protection agency needs more funding
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A commission appointed to review the state Division of Child and Family Services says the organization needs increased funding to hire more case workers, reduce caseloads and hopefully reduce the stress of the job, allowing the agency to retain more workers who are tasked with responding to child abuse and neglect cases.
The Protect Montana Kids Commission worked Monday on its final recommendations with regard to the agency’s workforce and work culture.
The group recommended improving worker and supervisor training and adding incentives to attract new employees, such as student loan assistance for recent college graduates who agree to work for the agency.
Commission member Chuck Hunter says there should be a covenant between the legislature and the administration regarding adequate funding for Child and Family Services.
Nevada partnership tries to shrink size of mustang herd
GARDNERVILLE, Nev. (AP) — Residents of a rural northern Nevada town are volunteering in the first public-private partnership of its kind providing water for wild horses on the range and shooting the mares with contraceptive darts to help shrink the size of the herd.
Leaders of the Pine Nut Wild Horse Advocates in Gardnerville say their goal is to keep the mustangs off neighborhood lawns and out of government holding pens.
Working with the Bureau of Land Management, the nonprofit group is using the contraceptive vaccine PZP with the help of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign to try to reduce the herd’s population and eliminate nuisance complaints that could lead to more roundups 50 miles southeast of Reno.
Board member Robin Havens says it’s a commonsense approach that’s much cheaper than housing tens of thousands of mustangs in government corals.
Butte boy dies after being crushed by boat dock
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A 3-year-old Butte boy has died of injuries suffered when part of a metal boat dock fell on him at a fishing access site on Canyon Ferry Lake near Helena.
The Spokane County coroner’s office said Monday that Landon Haight died Saturday at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane.
Lewis and Clark County officials say the boy was injured Friday while he and his 2-year-old sister were playing as their father fished on the shoreline. Officials say the boat dock fell on Landon’s chest and suffocated him.
Sgt. Brian Robinson says Landon was transported to the hospital in Helena and then flown to Spokane for further treatment. Family members said the boy was an organ donor.
State Supreme Court delays enforcement of medical pot ruling
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The state Supreme Court will delay enforcement of the severe medical marijuana restrictions it upheld until Aug. 31.
In February, the court upheld provisions of a 2011 state law that limited medical marijuana providers to selling the drug to a maximum of three patients. The Montana Cannabis Industry Association, which had challenged the legislation, has said the rollbacks would force the closure of dispensaries and leave patients without a legal way to obtain the drug.
The group sought a delay in implementing the ruling until after the 2017 legislative session. State health officials also argued for a delay, saying it would take them at least four months to notify patients and update the registry.
Chief Justice Mike McGrath wrote in Monday’s ruling that “immediate implementation of the court’s opinion will cause serious disruption in a program.”
Federal agency defends decision not to protect Montana fish
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Federal and state fisheries officials say a judge should uphold a 2014 decision that a fish found in southwestern Montana streams doesn’t need special protection under the Endangered Species Act.
Two environmental organizations and two individuals are suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over its decision to not name the Arctic grayling as a threatened or endangered species.
U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon is expected to make a decision sometime after June.
The Missouri River system upstream of Great Falls holds the only Arctic grayling population in the contiguous United States.
The environmental groups say the fish faces threats from low flows, rising water temperatures and climate change.
The Fish and Wildlife Service says 19 of 20 Arctic grayling populations in Montana are stable or increasing.
Environmental groups sue over bull trout recovery plan
KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — Two environmental groups have filed a lawsuit against the federal government over the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s plan to recover threatened bull trout.
Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Friends of the Wild Swan filed the lawsuit on April 19 in U.S. District Court in Oregon, accusing federal wildlife officials of not doing enough to help the trout and saying the recovery plan violates the Endangered Species Act with its inadequacies.
The agency released its Bull Trout Recovery Plan in September outlining actions to boost bull trout populations in six recovery units spread over Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Montana and a tiny portion of Nevada.
A spokesman with FWS said the agency wouldn’t comment on pending litigation, but biologists with the federal agency have defended the plan as realistic.