BILLINGS — The number of hunters and the percentage of sportsmen who harvested animals remained strong over the weekend in south central Montana, despite challenging weather conditions. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologists who operated three check stations in south central Montana Saturday and Sunday all reported that the percentage of hunters who had game was better than the same weekend last year and close to the long-term average for the fourth weekend of the general big-game season.
Hunters at all check stations reported seeing plenty of deer rutting activity, but that winds to 40 miles per hour made hunting difficult. At Columbus, FWP wildlife biologist Shawn Stewart checked 209 hunters, down from 226 on the same weekend last year. Of the sportsmen checked, 38 percent had harvested game, up from 26 percent on the same weekend last year and only a point lower than the long-term average. Stewart checked 35 white-tailed deer – up four from last year – and 31 mule deer, up from 25 in 2013. This was the first weekend of the season when the white-tailed deer harvest exceeded the mule deer harvest.
The elk harvest remains strong with 13 animals checked over the weekend at Columbus, up from just two last year. For the year so far, 809 hunters have stopped at Columbus – 13 percent below last year but ahead of the long-term average of 778. The mule deer and white-tailed deer harvest remains well below the long-term average, but the number of elk checked and the percentage of hunters with game are near average. At the Lavina check station, FWP wildlife biologist Ashley Taylor saw 201 hunters Saturday and Sunday, down from 210 on the same weekend in 2013. She ckecked 16 white-tailed deer – down just one from last year – and 25 mule deer – down from 28 a year ago. The elk harvest remained strong with 17 animals checked compared to 14 last year.
For the weekend, 28 percent of sportsmen who stopped at Lavina had game – up a point from 2013 and one point lower than the long-term average. For the first four weekends of the 2014 season, hunter numbers at Lavina are nearly identical to the long-term average of 1,241. The white-tailed deer harvest is off by 71 percent, the mule deer harvest is down 53 percent and the percentage of hunters with game is just 16 percent – down from a long-term average of 29 percent. The elk harvest ramins strong, however, with 78 animals checked – up from an average of 46. At the Big Timber check station, all statistics were higher than the same weekend in 2013. FWP wildlife biologist Justin Paugh checked 104 hunters – up from 95 last year, but well below the long-term average of 142. Sportsmen checked 17 white-tailed deer – up from 10 last year – and 30 mule deer – up from 17 in 2013. Both deer statistics were well below the long-term average for the Big Timber check station.
Elk remain a bright spot with nine checked over the weekend – compared to last year’s count and the long term average of six. The percentage of hunters with game was 54 percent – up three points from the long-term average and well above last year’s 35 percent rate. For the year to date, 617 hunters have stopped at Big Timber compared to an average of 631 for the first four weekends. The 40 white-tailed deer checked represent less than half of the average of 88 while the number of mule deer – 102 this year – is well below the average of 127. The elk harvest remains strong with 36 checked – 10 better than the average. The percentage of hunters with game is 37 percent so far this year – down from a long-term average of 50 percent. Montana’s five-week general big-game season runs through Nov. 30. Hunters are reminded that they must stop at any check station they pass while hunting, whether or not they have harvested game. Check stations primarily are intended for biologists to gather statistical information about animals and hunters.
Last Updated on Friday, 21 November 2014 12:44
The Yellowstone County Democratic Central Committee is conducting a straw poll on who the Montana Democrats should nominate to run for the United States Senate in the November 2014 election. The straw poll will be conducted from Monday, August 11th through Friday, August 15th. The Democrats will decide on the nominee on Saturday, August 16th.
The results of the straw poll for Monday, August 11th are:
Brian Schweitzer 7
Nancy Keenan 3
Jeff Bridges 9
John Walsh 1
Bill Kennedy 1
Frankie Wilmer 1
John Bohlinger 22
Dirk Adams 4
The straw poll is conducted at the Fair Booth of the Yellowstone County Democratic Central Committee. The booth is open each day from 12(noon) until 11pm. The poll will end on Friday, August 16th at 9pm. In order to take part in the poll the poll participant must be physically present at the booth. The booth is located in the south corridor of the Montana Pavilion Bldg. at the METRA in Billings.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 August 2014 01:43
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) today announced publication of the draft Environmental Assessment (EA) for a proposed Annual Funding Agreement (AFA) that would allow the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) to manage and implement the biological, maintenance, public use, and fire management programs on the National Bison Range Complex (refuge complex).
The EA addresses those units located within the boundaries of the Flathead Indian Reservation; specifically the National Bison Range, Ninepipe and Pablo National Wildlife Refuges, and nine waterfowl production areas. All of these units are within Lake and Sanders counties in Montana.
The CSKT requested negotiations for an AFA in November 2010 under the authority of the Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act, as amended. The Service then developed the draft AFA to explore a more full partnership agreement with CSKT that would allow the Tribes to take part in the refuge programs that are of special geographic, historical, or cultural significance.
Now, the Service has prepared the EA to evaluate the environmental consequences of the proposed agreement, in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act. In addition to this proposed agreement, the Service also developed and analyzed four other AFA alternatives for the public’s consideration and comment. Each AFA alternative would allow CSKT to manage or assist with programs, services, functions, and activities on the refuge complex to various degrees for a term of five years.
Comments on the draft EA from members of the public will be welcomed by the Service during a 30-day public review period.
“We always think that it’s important to involve stakeholders in the process of deciding how to best manage our shared natural resources, in this case the locally- and nationally-known National Bison Range,” said Will Meeks, Mountain-Prairie Region assistant regional director for Refuges. “Both citizens and Tribal members with an opinion on how the National Bison Range will be managed are invited to comment on the draft environmental assessment during the thirty-day comment period.”
Why did the Service prepare the draft Environmental Assessment (EA)?
The Service prepared the draft EA to evaluate the draft Annual Funding Agreement (AFA) with the CSKT developed by the Service under the Self-Governance Act. As part of the EA process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Service developed and analyzed four alternatives (including no action) to the draft AFA, which is the proposed action in this EA. Each AFA alternative would allow CSKT to manage or assist with programs, services, functions, and activities on the refuge complex to various degrees for a term of five years.
Why is the draft AFA considered appropriate for the Service to consider as a management option for the National Bison Range complex?
The AFA was developed by the Service to fulfill its desire to enter into an expanded partnership agreement with the CSKT under the authority of the Tribal Self-Governance Act of 1994 (Self-Governance Act) that would allow the Tribes to take part in the refuge programs that are of special geographic, historical, or cultural significance. An AFA is needed to carry out the Tribe’s desire for tribal involvement in activities on the refuge complex under the Self-Governance Act.
Why is the Service considering adoption of the AFA?
Pursuant to its Tribal-trust responsibilities, the Service would like to forge a productive and long-term partnership with the CSKT at the National Bison Range Complex (refuge complex) in Montana that would allow the Tribes to take part in refuge programs that are of special geographic, historical, or cultural significance.
What is an Environmental Assessment?
The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 sets up procedural requirements for all Federal Government agencies to analyze the environmental impacts of a Federal action. NEPA’s procedural requirements apply to all Federal agencies in the executive branch.
An EA is a concise public document, prepared in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, that briefly discusses the purpose and need for an action and alternatives to such action and that provides sufficient evidence and analysis of effects to determine whether to prepare an environmental impact statement or finding of no significant impact (40 CFR 1508.9).
What types of impacts were studied in the EA?
The EA examined a number of environmental and social impacts, including the following:
Physical Environment including soils, climate, and air quality
Biological Resources including habitat management, habitat resources, and wildlife management.
Visitor Services including wildlife observation and photography, interpretation, environmental education, and other uses
Refuge Operations including the number and type of staff positions proposed.
Who prepared the CCP and EA?
A team composed of Service personnel from both the refuge complex and the regional office. In addition, the Service hired a contractor to assist with the environmental analysis.
Who makes the decision on whether to proceed with the AFA?
The Regional Director of the Mountain-Prairie Region of the Service will decide whether to proceed with an AFA with the Tribes and, if so, to what degree.
What will happen if the decision is made to proceed with the AFA?
If the Regional Director decides to proceed with an AFA, we are required to send the AFA to Congress for a 90-day review and comment period. If approved by Congress, we will immediately begin working with CSKT to begin implementing the selected AFA agreement.
Where is the National Bison Range located?
Located in northwestern Montana, most of the refuge complex is located within the boundaries of the Flathead Indian Reservation, a 1.3 million acre-area established in 1855 through the Treaty of Hellgate with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.
Last Updated on Monday, 04 August 2014 12:07
Date: Sunday, July 27, 2014 9 a.m.
The 167 acre Lodge Grass Basin fire has not grown for several days now on the jumbled walls of Lodge Grass canyon. About 30 firefighters are on Tepee Pole Ridge north of the fire, but cannot safely climb down to extinguish the smokes and embers that remain.
Because of the terrain, there is no safe way to build a fireline around the ragged edges of this wildfire or to contain the fire. Although no flames have shown for days, the fire is not out. It still has the potential to grow fast in weeks to come if a spark travels into vegetation that ignites. When the trees and grass got dry enough, the 2011 Hoss and 2005 Bighorn fires exploded from similar small unreachable canyon fires. The Lodge Grass Basin fire showed little smoke Saturday, but a heavy helicopter worked through the day dumping water on any hot spots found.
Rather than keep many firefighters sitting above the inaccessible remaining embers, early in this week the Crow Tribe and BIA will downsize the team, but leave an engine in place to constantly monitor any fire activity. The Crow Agency helicopter returned Friday from a dispatch in Oregon and will aid in frequent reconnaissance.
If the fire were to perk up or grow, managers have plans in place to quickly re-expand the team at work – and meet the edge of any growing fire by preparing more defensible firelines.
The humidity rises a bit Monday, with a slight chance of thunderstorms each day the coming week.
New: Find more photos of the fire on the internet at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/ or search for “inciweb Lodge Grass Basin”.
Last Updated on Sunday, 27 July 2014 12:46
(Billings, Mont.) – Head Start, Inc., a Billings-based nonprofit that helps children and families prepare for success in school, will host the second annual Rock2Raise concert on July 19, 2014, at The Rex in Billings. The event is the largest fundraiser of the year for Head Start and will feature Adventures in Parrotdise, a Jimmy Buffett tribute band that includes original members of the Coral Reefers band.
“We are so excited for our second Rock2Raise concert,” said Jennifer Owen, Executive Director of Head Start, Inc. “This is a great chance for the community to come listen to some great music outdoors, see friends and colleagues, and learn a little about the great work going on here at Head Start. Rock2Raise is a family-friendly event that contributes enormously to our ability to prepare preschool children for success. We depend on community support, so we hope that everyone will join us for a fun night and help Head Start continue to serve low-income children and families in the area.”
Tickets are $13 in advance and $15 at the gate. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. in the parking lot of The Rex; gates open at 5:30 p.m. Additional information can be found at billingsheadstart.org under the Rock2Raise link.
All of the proceeds of the event will go to Head Start. In addition, attendees will have the opportunity to donate to a separate fund to benefit the family of Zaria Santos, a Head Start student who was killed in a car fire on July 9, 2014.
Head Start, Inc. serves 360 children at five sites in Yellowstone and Carbon Counties, providing preschool classes for 3-and 4-year old low-income children, as well as education and support for families in health, nutrition, finances, family relationships, and parenting. Head Start, Inc. is dedicated to ensuring school readiness for low income children entering kindergarten and preparing parents to be their children’s primary teacher and advocate.
Last Updated on Saturday, 19 July 2014 10:41
DENVER— The unprecedented effort to conserve greater sage-grouse and sagebrush habitat is a complicated process that encompasses 11 states, six federal agencies and numerous non-governmental groups. To help journalists, stakeholders and the interested public stay informed about this effort, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has built a new greater sage-grouse website and assigned three public affairs officers to lead the agency’s communication’s effort.
The new website, http://www.fws.gov/greaterSageGrouse, is one way the Service hopes to better communicate the breadth of the ongoing conservation actions underway to support greater sage-grouse and the sagebrush habitat the bird and 350 other species need. The new site aggregates the on-line information resources that were once found on the Mountain-Prairie, Pacific Northwest and Pacific Southwest agency websites, providing original stories, photos and images for non-commercial reproduction.
The Service recognizes that it is one player in this broad landscape of conservation partners. Our goals are to highlight the effective work that is being done at the federal, state, NGO and even the individual level, to direct visitors to our sage-grouse conservation partners and to ensure the public understands the Service’s role under the ESA as the September 2015 listing deadline approaches.
The Service has also assembled a team of public affairs specialists to answer questions about greater sage-grouse conservation from journalists and others. Members of the media who are working on stories about this issue are encouraged to contact the members of the team for assistance.
Last Updated on Monday, 07 July 2014 10:09
CODY, Wyo.; July2, 2014 --- Getting a check out of the Cody Stampede would be good for bareback rider Luke Creasy. Winning first place would be icing on the cake for the Canadian who now lives in Lubbock, Texas.
Creasy is currently ranked 17th in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world standings. He qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo four consecutive years and is working hard to make it to the next step on rodeo’s stage.
At the end of the September, the top 15 in the world standings will qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR). Creasy has been on his way before, but injuries have kept him from making the trip to Las Vegas in December to be among the elite contestants vying for world titles.
At the second performance of the Cody Stampede on Wednesday night, Creasy had an 84-point score on Mo Betta Rodeo’s horse named Darth. This is currently in first place in the standings here. All of the contestants here compete one time. Their scores and times all accumulate through the competition and at the end of the rodeo on July 4th, the best in each event will get a share of the $340,000 purse.
With two more performances left, Creasy’s score may not hold the top spot, but he does have a good opportunity to get a check here.
“At this point in the season, any money helps,” Creasy said. “It’s critical for me, not just in the standings, but also to keep competing.”
Two Carolina ropers moved into a tie for the top spot in team roping Thursday night as well. Cory Kidd V, from Statesville, N.C., and Adam Plyler, from Pageland, S.D., did the heading and heeling in 5.0 seconds. They are now tied with Brandon Beers from Powell Butte, Ore., and Jim Ross Cooper from Monument, N.M.
Cody Taton took the lead in saddle bronc riding after scoring 83 points on Frontier Rodeo’s Lonesome Night. It was the second ride of the night for the Corona, N.M., resident. He was awarded a re-ride when the first horse he got on didn’t perform as expected. Taton who grew up in bronc riding country of South Dakota is a former NFR champion for having the highest total score through ten rounds of competition.
Action at the 95th edition of the Cody Stampede continues at Stampede Park on Thursday with barrel racing slack at 8 a.m. The third performance will be Wednesday night at 8 p.m. Live results will be available @codystampede on twitter. More information is also available at www.codystampederodeo.com or codystampederodeo on Facebook.
CODY, Wyo., July 2, 2014 --- Following are results from the Buffalo Bill Cody Stampede
Second Performance --
Bareback Riding: 1, Luke Creasy, 84 points on Mo Betta Rodeo’s Darth. 2, (tie) Tyler Scales, Severance, Colo., and Jerad Schlegel, Burns, Colo., 74. 4, Will Lowe, Canyon, Texas, 72.
Steer Wrestling : 1, Josh Peek, Pueblo, Colo., 4.6 seconds. 2, (tie) Barry Kreikemeier, Jackson, Wyo., and Beau Clark, Belgrade, Mont., 5.2. 4, Brandon Chase Harport, Arthur, Texas, 8.4.
Team Roping: 1, Cory Kidd V, Statesville, N.C., and Adam Plyler, Pageland, S.D., 5.0 seconds. 2, Nathan McWhorter, Telephone, Texas, and Cole Davison, Stephenville, Texas, 5.3. 3, ARky Rogers, Lipan, Texas, and Travis Woodard, Stockton, Calif., 5.5. 4, Jade Stoddard, Rexberg, Idaho, and Ike Folsom, Dillon, Mont., 7.5.
Saddle Bronc Riding: 1, Cody Taton, Corona, N.M., 83 points on Frontier Rodeo’s Lonesome Night. 2, (tie) Jeff Willert, Belvidere, S.D., and Troy Crowser, Whitewood, S.D., 79. 4, Kaleb Asay, Roan Walsh, Wyo., and Cole Elshere, Faith, S.D., 78.
Tie-Down Roping: 1, Catfish Brown, Collinsville, Texas, 8.1 seconds. 2, Ryan Lickley, Jerome, Idaho, 8.4. 3, John Wall, Brenham, Texas, 9.2. 4, Fred Whitfield, Hockley, Texas, 9.6.
Barrel Racing: 1, Kassidy Dennison, Tohatchi, N.M., 17.38 seconds. 2, Jody Sheffield, Ogden, Utah, 17.40. 3, Jana Beam, Fort Hancock, Texas, 17.41. 4, Andrea Cline, Springtown, Texas, 17.44.
Bull Riding: (three rides) 1, Jeff Askey, Martin, Tenn., 81 points on Mo Betta Rodeo’s Yakity Yak. 2, (tie) Dalan Duncan, Ballard, Utah, and Rorey Maier, Timber Lake, S.D., 77.
The following are current leaders –
Bareback Riding: 1, Luke Creasy, Lubbock, Texas, 84 points on Mo Betta Rodeo’s Darth. 2, (tie) Jared Smith, Eastland, Texas, and Jessy Davis, Power, Mont., 82 points each. 4, Cain Riddle, Vernon, Texas, 78. 5, Casey Breuer, Mandan, N.D., 77. 6, Kenny Haworth, Redmond, Ore., 76.
Steer Wrestling: 1, Tooter Silver, Quitman, Ark., 3.9 seconds. 2 Dirk Tavenner, Rigby, Idaho, 4.4. 3, (tie) Jace Melvin, Fort Pierre, S.D.,; Chance Howard, Cedarville, Ark.; Nick Guy, Sparta, Wisc.; and Josh Peek, Pueblo, Colo.; 4.6..
Team Roping: 1, (tie) Brandon Beers, Powell Butte, Ore., and Jim Ross Cooper, Monument, N.M.; and Cory Kidd V, Statesville, N.C., and Adam Plyler, Pageland, S.C., 5.0 seconds each. 3, Paul David Tierney, Oral, S.D., and Matt Kasner, Cody, Neb., 5.1. 4, Brady Tryan, Huntley, Mont., and Tommy Zuniga, Centerville, Texas, 5.2. 5, (tie) Brooks Dahozy, Window Rock, Ariz.and Daxton Jim, Owyhee, Nev.; and Nathan McWhorter, Telephone, Texas, and Cole Davison, Stephenville, Texas; 5.3.
Saddle Bronc Riding: 1, Cody Taton, Corona, N.M., 83 points on Frontier Rodeo’s Lonesome Night. 2, Jesse Wright, Milford, Utah, 82. 3, Samuel Kelts, Millarville, Alberta, 80. 4, (tie) Heith DeMoss, Heflin, La.; Ty Kirkland, Lufkin, Texas; Bryan Martinat, Marsing, Idaho; Jeff Willert, Belvidere, S.D.; and Troy Crowser, Whitewood, S.D.; 79 points each.
Tie-Down Roping: 1, Randall Carlisle, Baton Rouge, La., 7.7 seconds. 2, (tie) Jake Pratt, Ellensburg, Wash., and Nate Baldwin, Blackfoot, Idaho, 7.8. 4, Reese Reimer, Stinett, Texas, 8.0. 5, Catfish Brown, Collinsville, Texas, 8.1. 6, (tie) Ace Slone, Cuero, Texas; Ben Robinson, Innisfail, Alberta; and Chase Williams, Stephenville, Texas; 8.3 each.
Barrel Racing: 1, Kassidy Dennison, Tohatchi, N.M., 17.38. 2, Sharon Harrell, Wickenburg, Ariz., 17.39. 3, Jody Sheffeild, Ogden, Utah, 17.40. 4, Jana Bean, Fort Hancock, Texas, 17.41. 5, Andrea Cline, Springtown, Texas, 17.44. 6, Heather Knerr, Grass Range, Mont., 17.55.
Bull Riding: 1, J.W. Harris, Mullin, Texas, 90 points on Summit Pro Rodeo’s Pretty Boy. 2, Dustin Bowen, Fredericksburg, Penn., 86. 3, Taygen Schuelke, Newell, S.D., 83. 4, Jeff Askey, Martin, Tenn., 81. 5, (tie) Rorey Maier, Timber Lake, S.D., and Dalan Duncan, Ballard, Utah, 77 each.
Last Updated on Thursday, 03 July 2014 07:04
Billings Clinic Foundation invites the public to attend a dedication ceremony for the unveiling of an art exhibit commissioned and donated by the Harold and Patricia Korell Foundation. The exhibit was created specifically for Billings Clinic by local artist Kira Fercho.
Each of the twelve 40-by-50-inch original oil paintings features a tipi or lodge from one of Montana’s 12 federally recognized tribes. Kira Fercho is a professional oil painter from Billings who is known for her representations of Montana. These pieces complement Billings Clinic’s Healing Environment and provide a tribute to a significant piece of our state’s proud heritage.
WHEN: Monday, July 7, 2014, 2:30 p.m.
WHERE: Billings Clinic Commons, 801 N. 29th Street
Last Updated on Thursday, 03 July 2014 07:02
AUGUSTA – Final results from the American Legion PRCA Rodeo, Augusta, Sunday, June 29. Produced by Kesler Championship Rodeo and Kesler Rodeos.
All-around cowboy: Shawn Bessette, $609, tie-down roping and team roping.
Bareback riding: 1. Chase Erickson, 84 points on Kesler Championship Rodeo’s No. 780, $590; 2. Jessy Davis, 81, $443; 3. Heath Ford, 79, $295; 4. Lane Lerche, 78, $148.
Steer wrestling: 1. Levi Guenzler, 3.5 seconds, $1,184; 2. Shawn Dunagan, 4.0, $888; 3. (tie) Shawn Downing, Dalyn Wingard and Walt Anseth, 4.5, $296 each.
Team roping: 1. (tie) Shawn Bird/Justin Viles and Chase Wiley/Ace Pearce, 5.7 seconds, $1,152 each; 3. Clay Robertson/Zachary Schweigert, 5.8, $826; 4. Shawn Bessette/Shane Bessette, 5.9, $609; 5. Kelsey Parchman/Justin Wade Davis, 6.2, $391; 6. James Robinson/Shawn Little, 7.0, $217.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Andy Clarys, 85 points on Kesler Championship Rodeo’s Cool Five, $711; 2. Andrew Evjene, 82, $533; 3. (tie) Josh Reynolds and Philip Shields, 80, $266 each.
Tie-down roping: 1. Fred Whitfield, 9.2 seconds, $1,128; 2. Ryan Thibodeaux, 9.4, $846; 3. Kevin Peterson, 9.7, $564; 4. Matt Shiozawa, 9.9, $282.
Barrel racing: 1. Kaela Murphy, 17.68 seconds, $844; 2. Lindsay Kruse, 17.74, $723; 3. Deena Moeykens, 17.85, $603; 4. Torie Briese, 17.93, $522; 5. Shelby Blixt, 17.98, $402; 6. Carmel Wright, 18.08, $321; 7. Becky Fuson, 18.23, $241; 8. (tie) Casey Wagner and Stena Bushnell, 18.24, $141 each; 10. Allison Darrow, 18.25, $80.
Bull riding: 1. Guy Nordahl, 88 points on Kesler Championship Rodeo’s Missile Machine, $752; 2. Ryan O’Masters, 86, $564; 3. Casey Fredericks, 63, $376; no other qualified rides.
Last Updated on Monday, 30 June 2014 18:06
Rocky Mountain College President Bob Wilmouth will introduce RMC’s next athletic director at a press conference at 9 a.m. Tuesday iin the Hall of Fame Room, Fortin Education Center.
A full press release with the selection will come after the press conference.
The public is invited to attend the conference and meet RMC’s new athletic director.
Last Updated on Monday, 23 June 2014 15:55