Study: Livestock grazing can benefit struggling bird species
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A new study suggests some livestock grazing can benefit a ground-dwelling bird that’s suffered a dramatic population decline across its 11-state range in the U.S. West.
Grazing on land occupied by greater sage grouse has been frequently cited as a reason for the bird’s decline, along with disease, oil and gas drilling and other factors.
But researchers now say that grazing late in the season can actually help sage grouse.
That’s in part because late-season grazing leaves in place for longer the grasses and other vegetation that sage grouse nest in. Late-season grazing also can stimulate the growth of vegetation that sage grouse eat.
The findings by scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, Colorado State University and Utah State University were published in the scientific journal Ecological Applications.
Man convicted in 2003 double murder dies in Montana prison
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A man serving a life sentence in the brutal 2003 killings of an estranged couple has died in a Montana prison.
Montana Department of Corrections spokeswoman Amy Barton said 66-year-old Mark Misner died at the state prison in Deer Lodge following an extended illness.
Misner was convicted in Cascade County in 2005 on two counts of deliberate homicide in the deaths of Wanda “Lynn” Hutchison and Danny Ray Hutchison in Great Falls.
Authorities said the couple had been trying to evict Misner from Danny Hutchison’s house when they were killed. Lynn Hutchison was beaten so badly that investigators could not immediately tell she also had been shot.
Misner was also serving time on a 2010 conviction in Toole County for assaulting a peace officer.
The Latest: Police: ‘No apparent reason’ for Vegas shooting
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Police say a man sitting at the back of a public bus on the Las Vegas Strip started shooting “for no apparent reason” as passengers got off at a stop in the heart of the tourism corridor.
Police said Sunday that 55-year-old Rolando Cardenas is accused in the shooting. Authorities say he surrendered peacefully after a standoff inside the double-decker bus that lasted more than four hours Saturday.
He has been booked into jail on suspicion of murder, attempted murder, burglary and opening fire on the bus. An attorney for Cardenas couldn’t immediately be found.
The bus had stopped on the Strip near the Cosmopolitan hotel-casino. Police say passengers were leaving when Cardenas stood up and fired several rounds from a handgun.
Two people nearby were struck, including a Montana man who died.
Few prosecutions for rape cases in Montana’s largest county
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — None of the 60 rape cases reported last year in Montana’s most populous county resulted in charges as police and prosecutors struggled to get the cases to trial.
The Billings Gazette reported on Sunday that over the past five years Yellowstone County has prosecuted only about 15 percent of adult rape cases that were investigated and forwarded for possible charges.
County officials blamed the lack of prosecutions on the hesitance of some victims to press charges and the reluctance of juries to convict defendants of rape.
In 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice rebuked Missoula County authorities for prosecuting just 17 percent of rape cases that were referred by police investigators between 2008 and 2012.
Boating rules in place for Tiber, Canyon Ferry reservoirs
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — New boating rules are in place for Tiber and Canyon Ferry reservoirs after the discovery of invasive mussel larvae at Tiber and a suspected sample at Canyon Ferry.
Boaters will be required to launch and exit Tiber and Canyon Ferry reservoirs at designated boat ramps unless the boats are certified to remain only in one of those waters.
Fish, Wildlife and Parks fisheries chief Eileen Ryce says the designated ramps at the reservoirs near Chester and Helena will have inspection and decontamination stations.
The “local boater” program will allow watercraft owners to complete educational training on aquatic invasive species and sign an agreement pledging only to use the boat at either Tiber or Canyon Ferry reservoir.
Local boaters would not be required to decontaminate their boat each time they leave.
Man charged with 1987 rape seeks dismissal of charges
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The attorney for a man charged with raping an 8-year-old Billings girl in 1987 has filed a motion to dismiss the charge.
The motion argues the statute of limitations for the rape charge expired before a 2007 law was passed allowing for sex crimes to be charged for up to one year after a DNA match is made.
Ronald Dwight Tipton is charged with three counts of sexual intercourse without consent. He has pleaded not guilty.
The Billings Gazette reports that DNA evidence linked Tipton to the case in 2014, after he agreed to submit to DNA testing as part of his suspended sentence in a drug case.
Another man was convicted of the rape and spent 15 years in prison before DNA evidence exonerated him in 2002.