Police investigate after teen shoots friend through window
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BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Authorities are considering whether criminal charges are warranted against a Montana 17-year-old who fired a bullet through his bedroom window, killing his friend in a case that an investigator called an accident.
The unidentified suspect apparently had been startled when 15-year-old Mackeon Schulte and another friend knocked on his window early Sunday.
The alarmed teen grabbed a gun described as a family heirloom and shot through the glass, killing Schulte.
The victim and suspect had been together just hours earlier.
Both attended Billings Senior High School, just a block from the home.
Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito says prosecutors are reviewing the circumstances and didn’t expect a decision soon.
Government releases fire plan to protect struggling bird
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has released a plan to protect the habitat of a struggling bird species from being destroyed by wildfire.
The new firefighting strategy comes as Western states work to avoid the sage grouse’s classification as a threatened or endangered species. Experts say the restrictions that come with protecting the wide-ranging birds could damage the economies of the 11 states where they are found.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to decide Endangered Species Act protections this fall.
The 82-page plan released Tuesday is mainly focused on how to prevent and respond to wildfires that could consume the birds’ habitat. Widespread destruction could factor into the wildlife service’s decision.
The plan centers on the rangeland and sagebrush landscapes in the Great Basin region of Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Oregon and California.
Havre man gets 40 years in prison in brother’s death
(Information in the following story is from: KOJM-AM, http://www.kojm.com)
HAVRE, Mont. (AP) — A 46-year-old Havre man has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for shooting his younger brother to death in the basement of their parents’ house during a drunken argument.
KOJM-AM reports District Judge Dan Boucher (BOO’-shay) on Monday sentenced Shane Johnson to 50 years in prison with 10 suspended. Johnson was convicted of negligent homicide for the November 2013 shooting death of Travis Johnson. Jurors could not reach a verdict on a deliberate homicide charge.
Prosecutors alleged Shane Johnson shot his brother after Travis Johnson punched him in the nose during a fight. Shane Johnson argued his brother had grabbed the gun and the two were struggling over it when it went off. A bullet went through Travis Johnson’s cheek and into his brain.
1 man arrested, another sought in hitchhiker assault
FORT BENTON, Mont. (AP) — One man has been arrested and another is being sought for assaulting two hitchhikers who were left in a remote area near Big Sandy.
Chouteau County Attorney Stephen Gannon said John Michael Merrill was arrested Friday on suspicion of felony aggravated assault and misdemeanor assault.
Officers are searching for Matthew Joseph Saddler.
Prosecutors allege Saddler picked up the couple north of Roundup on May 6 and drove them to a residence on the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation. Court records say Saddler and Merrill forced the Michigan residents into a car trunk and drove them to an area east of Big Sandy where they were beaten and abandoned.
The man suffered bleeding in his brain, a broken rib and a broken nose.
Saddler is a Native American in his early 30s. He is 5 feet, 9 inches tall and 190 pounds.
Biologists blame fungus for low fish numbers in Clark Fork
(Information in the following story is from: The Montana Standard, http://www.mtstandard.com)
BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — Fish biologists are blaming the saprolegnia fungus for low brown trout numbers in the Clark Fork River downstream of Warm Springs Ponds.
The Montana Standard reports that biologists found 600 brown trout, which is far below the average number of fish, in a two-mile section below the ponds. Last year, they found four times that amount in the same stretch.
Fisheries biologist for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Jason Lindstrom, says the fungus impact is likely due to the high number of fish last year, which would have put more stress on the fish by increasing competition for spawning and habitat.
He says warmer weather could have also added stress to the fish, but usually a fish can fight it off.
Wisconsin hunter fined for killing grizzly bear
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Wisconsin man has been ordered to pay more than $2,300 for mistakenly shooting and killing a grizzly bear in northwestern Montana.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials said Monday that Richard Kutcher of Mukwonago, Wisconsin, thought the animal he shot May 16 was a black bear, not a grizzly.
Grizzly bears are listed as a threatened species and are illegal to hunt.
FWP officials say Kutcher reported the shooting to wildlife officials immediately and cooperated with the investigation.
Kutcher pleaded guilty in Flathead County Justice Court to killing a grizzly bear in a closed season. He was fined $235 and ordered to pay $2,000 in restitution.