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Wildlife agency drops hunter confidentiality plan
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana wildlife officials are dropping a proposal to keep confidential the names of hunters and trappers who kill wildlife in Montana.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks had planned to introduce a bill in the 2015 legislative session that would make it illegal to disclose identifying information about hunters or trappers that take any kind of game animal, furbearer or other species under the department's management.
That information is now available under the state's right-to-know laws. Some hunters and trappers had claimed they were being harassed by people who had obtained the information.
FWP spokesman Ron Aasheim confirmed Wednesday the agency won't introduce the bill. Aasheim says the agency floated the idea but decided to pull back because it wasn't a high priority.
EXCHANGE STUDENT SHOT-BURGLARY
Man pleads guilty to role in garage burglary
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A Missoula man has pleaded guilty to his role in a garage burglary that preceded the fatal shooting of a German exchange student who broke into the same garage 10 days later apparently looking for alcohol.
Tristan Staber pleaded guilty Wednesday in District Court to conspiracy to commit burglary and conspiracy to commit criminal trespass for the April 17. Prosecutors said Staber acted as a lookout while a juvenile entered unlocked cars and garages. The juvenile allegedly took marijuana, a bong, wallets and an iPhone from Markus Kaarma's garage and vehicles.
Court records say Kaarma and his wife set up a surveillance camera in the garage to catch any future break-ins.
On April 27, Kaarma shot 17-year-old Diren Dede in his garage.
Kaarma has pleaded not guilty to deliberate homicide in Dede's death. His trial is scheduled for December.
SUBDIVISION WATER FIGHT
Mediation planned over water service dispute
(Information in the following story is from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com)
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The attorney for the town of Lodge Grass says a disagreement between the town and the Crow Tribe over water service to a subdivision is headed to mediation.
Ron Arneson tells The Billings Gazette that the state has agreed to hire a mediator. Arneson says a tribal court judge has issued a stay on a trial over the dispute that was scheduled to start on Thursday.
The town of Lodge Grass had been negotiating with the Crow Tribe for nearly a year over about $70,000 in unpaid water bills due from residents of a 96-home subdivision sitting on tribal land leased by the Crow Housing Authority.
The town shut off water service to the entire subdivision in September.
Mediation will seek to settle the past-due bill and prevent future conflicts.
Woman charged with Billings apartment fire
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A 25-year-old woman who police say sat on a park bench clutching a lighter and laughing as firefighters battled a blaze at the apartment building where she lived has made an initial court appearance on arson and criminal endangerment charges.
Jesse Elizabeth Root was charged Tuesday with setting the June 2 fire that caused $1 million in damages. No one was injured.
Justice of the Peace David Carter set Root's bail at $25,000. She is scheduled to enter a plea in District Court on Nov. 6.
Root was arrested the day of the fire and was taken to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation. Court records say medical personnel overheard Root telling family members that she started the fire.
She was arrested in Portland, Oregon, earlier this month. It was not clear why she had been released from custody.
Missoula County must pay $565K for inmate's death
(Information in the following story is from: Missoulian, http://www.missoulian.com)
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Missoula County must pay $565,500 in damages to the family of a woman who died of a seizure in the county jail in 2009.
The Missoulian reported Wednesday a district court jury ruled county officials were mostly responsible for the death of 31-year-old Heather Holly Wasson, who died of an alcohol withdrawal seizure about 36 hours after she was jailed.
Wasson was on probation for drug possession and forgery convictions when her probation officer told authorities he believed she had been drinking in violation of her release conditions. She was put in solitary confinement.
Cliff Edwards, an attorney for Wasson's estate, says Wasson had been drinking, was uncooperative and threatened to kill herself. She also answered questions about her substance use and potential for withdrawal problems.
Missoula County's risk manager says the county won't appeal.
THOMPSON FALLS FATAL
Man killed in crash near Thompson Falls ID'd
(Information in the following story is from: The Montana Standard, http://www.mtstandard.com)
BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — Authorities have released the name of a 51-year-old man who was killed in a single-vehicle rollover crash near Thompson Falls.
The Montana Standard reports the Sanders County coroner identified the victim Wednesday as 51-year-old Ronald Cook, of Heron. Cook was most recently living in Heron but had a Butte address listed on his license.
He was westbound on Montana Highway 200 shortly before 2 a.m. Tuesday when his vehicle went off the road, rolled and hit a tree.
The Montana Highway Patrol says it was foggy and there were some wet spots on the road at the time of the crash. Speed also was a factor.
CHILD PORNOGRAPHY SENTENCES
11 men sentenced for online child porn group
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Montana man who created an online bulletin board that allowed members to exchange child pornography is one of 11 men from eight states who were recently sentenced to between 15 and nearly 19 years in federal prison.
The men, including 48-year-old Paul Wencewicz of Polson, pleaded guilty in April to conspiracy to advertise child pornography.
Prosecutors say Wencewicz started the board in November 2009 after another group that he was a member of was shut down. Other members contributed to the design and operation of the board, which was a place for members to advertise, distribute, receive and access child pornography and comment on its content.
Prosecutors say the invitation-only board also gave the members a place where their sexually exploitive conduct was accepted.
The board was shut down in March 2012.
Grizzly bear wounded by hunter found dead
(Information in the following story is from: Great Falls Tribune, http://www.greatfallstribune.com)
GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — State wildlife officials say a grizzly bear wounded by an elk hunter in the Badger-Two Medicine area southeast of Glacier National Park was found dead about 150 yards from where it was shot and about the same distance from a moose carcass.
Monday's shooting about two miles east of Marias Pass prompted the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks to warn hunters in the area to keep their bear spray handy.
FWP grizzly bear management specialist Mike Madel told the Great Falls Tribune he believes the 15-year-old sow charged the hunter because she and her cubs were feeding on the moose carcass.
The dead bear was found on Tuesday. Madel says the sow's cubs were in good condition and officials decided to allow them to try to survive on their own rather than capturing them.
OTTER CREEK MINE
Arch revises Montana coal mine application
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — State regulators say Arch Coal Inc. has submitted a revised application for a major coal mine near the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation.
The St. Louis-based company applied to build the Otter Creek mine southeast of Ashland in 2012. Montana's Department of Environmental Quality found deficiencies in the company's application last year.
Arch responded to those concerns with additional documentation on Tuesday.
DEQ project manager Kristi Ponozzo says the agency has 120 days to review the material. After that, it will deem the application acceptable or ask for yet more documentation.
Once a final decision is made, it could take Arch years more to develop a mine. The company also needs a new rail line to ship the fuel out of Montana.
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