Monthly Archive: May 2015

2 Wolves Poached in Southwestern Montana

HELENA, Mont. (AP) | Montana wildlife officials say poachers shot and killed two wolves, one just outside Yellowstone National Park and the other near the Centennial Valley.

Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials said in a statement Friday that a hiker found a dead yearling female wolf off the Old Yellowstone Trail near Gardiner on May 10.

Last Saturday, a dead adult male wolf was found at the Ruby River Long Creek Divide. Wildlife officials estimated the wolf was shot a day or two before.

Hunting season for wolves ended on March 15. The penalty for killing a wolf out of season is a citation and $1,000 in restitution.

FWP officials are asking anyone with information to call 800-TIP-MONT.

An advocacy group called Wolves of the Rockies is offering a $2,000 reward for information.


Changes Considered for Yellowstone Bison Slaughter Program

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) | A range of proposals that could either curb or accelerate the slaughter of wild bison migrating from Yellowstone National Park will get an initial public airing next week.

The hearings come 15 years after the slaughter program began through an agreement between Montana and federal agencies.

In March, government officials proposed changes ranging from letting the park's bison herds expand to 7,500 animals, to even more aggressive efforts to drive down the numbers.

Yellowstone has one of the largest bison populations in the world. The animals draw huge numbers of tourists to the region and are highly valued for their genetic purity.

However, many bison carry the animal disease brucellosis that is feared by cattle ranchers outside the park.

More than 500 bison attempting to migrate to winter grazing grounds in Montana were captured and shipped to slaughter last winter to protect livestock against the disease that causes pregnant animals to abort their young.

Since 2000, almost 6,000 Yellowstone bison have been killed, primarily by slaughter.

The federal-state agreement behind that program is considered outdated for several reasons. There is now a greater emphasis on hunting bison instead of sending them to slaughter; an improved understanding of how brucellosis gets transmitted to livestock; and eased government sanctions against ranchers when the disease is found.

Bison, also called buffalo, were driven to near-extinction in the late 1800s. There were about 4,900 bison counted in the park last summer, the most recent tally available.

Work to overhaul the 2000 agreement began more than a year ago and officials have targeted completion for late 2017.

Other changes could come much sooner.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has proposed that bison be allowed to roam year-round west of Yellowstone National Park if the population drops below 3,500 animals. A final decision from the Democrat is pending.

Livestock interests oppose drastic changes as long as the park's herds are infected with brucellosis. Park officials previously rejected using a remotely delivered brucellosis vaccine for bison.

Wildlife advocates and hunting groups have pushed for more room for bison in areas of Montana outside the park. They also urged state and federal officials not to establish "arbitrary" population targets given the large fluctuations in how many bison leave the park each year.

For those who want to influence the program, officials said now is the best time to weigh in.

"It's better to get in now, when there's some flexibility, rather than us filling in the blanks to help guide some of those alternatives," said Andrea Jones with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Public meetings on the alternatives are scheduled for Tuesday in Bozeman, Wednesday in Gardiner, and Thursday in West Yellowstone. Each will last two hours, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.


Hungry Bear Cub Found by Campers Likely Going to Zoo

SALEM, Ore. (AP) | Officials say a malnourished bear cub found near Green Peter Reservoir will likely be heading to a zoo.

The Statesman Journal reports Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife veterinarian Colin Gillin will look for a zoo to take the bear in pending the bear's physical exam tests.

The thin bear weighs 25 pounds and has lost hair on its back and rear, indicating malnourishment.

Police picked up the bear over the weekend after campers at Yellowbottom Recreation Site had reported the animal begging for food and showing no fear of humans.

Gillin says someone may have taken the bear in, thinking it was orphaned and then returned it to the wild.

The department says the situation demonstrates why wild animals should never be taken from the wild.


To Do For You

Vision Support

Visually Impaired Support Group meeting, 12:45-2 p.m. Tuesday, May 26, at the Twin Falls Senior Center, 530 Shoshone St. W., Twin Falls.

Topics: glaucoma, mascular degeneration and diabetes-caused vision problems.

Information: Idaho Commission for the Blind, 208-734-2140, or Verna Motes, 208-732-0627.

Laughter Exercise

Laughing Yoga, known as Laughter Club, 5:30 p.m. every Wednesday at the Twin Falls Senior Center, 530 Shoshone St. W., with Mary Martinat, a retired physical education instructor.

Learn how laughing can relieve stress and improve your breathing.

Free. 208-734-5084.

Alzheimer’s Support

The Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Idaho Chapter will hold Caregiver Support Group meetings in Gooding and Jerome.

The support groups will meet from 6:30-8 p.m. Wednesday at DeSano Place Suites, 545 Nevada St., Gooding, 208-934-4623; and 6:30-8 p.m. Wednesday at DeSano Place Village, 1015 E. Ave. K, Jerome; information: Becci Bowler, 208-749-1621.

Mental Health Support

Mental Health Support Group, 5:30 p.m. every Thursday at Family Health Services/Behavioral Health building, 1102 Eastland Drive N., Twin Falls.

The free support group is open to Magic Valley residents. 208-734-1281.

Anxiety Support

Anxiety Support Group, 6 p.m. every Thursday at Magic Valley Fellowship Hall, 801 Second Ave. N., Twin Falls.

Support for those who experience anxiety, panic attacks or depression. Learn about the signs, symptoms of anxiety and depression, and coping skills.

Information: Cathy Shaddy, 208-410-2768.

Wellness Seminar

Free Wellness Seminar, 7 p.m. Thursday, May 28, at Water’s Gift and More, 2211 Overland Ave., Burley.

Dr. Troy Crane and Aroma Touch Technique specialist Guylia James will discuss muscle testing.

Information: 208-430-3259.

Blood Drives

The American Red Cross will hold two blood drives this week, 1-6 p.m. Thursday at the LDS Church, 50 E. 100 S., Jerome; and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday at La Quinta Inn, 539 Pole Line Road, Twin Falls.

All blood types are needed. Schedule an appointment: 1-800-733-2767 or redcrossblood.org.

Infant Safety

Infant safety and cardiopulmonary resuscitation class, 6:30-9 p.m. Tuesday, June 2, in the Oak Room on the lower level of St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center, 801 Pole Line Road W., Twin Falls.

New parents, grandparents and caregivers learn CPR and what to do if a baby chokes. The class isn’t a certification course.

Free; no registration required. 208-814-0407.

Childbirth

St. Luke’s Magic Valley prepared childbirth classes, 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays, June 3 to July 1, in the Oak Room on the lower level of St. Luke’s, 801 Pole Line Road W., Twin Falls.

Topics: Wellness of the mother; labor and delivery process with relaxation and breathing techniques; care of the postpartum mother and newborn; breastfeeding and bottle feeding; and a video tour of the Women’s and Infant Center. Bring a labor-support person if possible.

Cost is $60 for a five-week session. Pre-registration is required: 208-814-0407.

Yoga Classes

Several free yoga classes will be offered June 3-9 in Twin Falls for Idaho Health and Yoga Awareness Week.

Activities include:

June 3: Outdoor yoga class, 8:30 a.m. at Harry Barry Park; yoga, 12:15 p.m. at YMCA E Street, 1751 Elizabeth Blvd.; 5:30 p.m. at Rock Creek Park gazebo; 6:30 p.m. at Vista Bonita Park; and Kids Yoga, 6:45 p.m. at Canyon Rim YMCA, 1881 Pole Line Road.

June 4: Yoga, 8:30 a.m. at Jerome Recreation Department; Flow Yoga at 12:15 p.m., Black Light Yoga at 5:30 p.m. and Gentle Yoga at 7:30 p.m., all at YMCA E Street; and 6:30 p.m. at Thompson Park.

June 5: Outdoor yoga, 11 a.m. at Twin Falls City Park; and 6:30 p.m. at Thompson Park.

June 6: Yoga, 9 a.m. at Shimmy Shakti.

June 7: Yoga, 9 a.m. at Shimmy Shakti; and Sunset Yoga, 8 p.m. on the Snake River Canyon rim.

June 8: Kids Yoga, 9:15 a.m. at the Canyon Rim YMCA; Flow Yoga at 12:15 p.m., Yogalates at 5:30 p.m. and Gentle Yoga at 7:30 p.m., all at YMCA E Street; and Sunset Yoga, 8 p.m. at Centennial Park.

June 9: Spa Yoga, 12:15 p.m. at YMCA E Street.

All levels are welcome; bring your mat. Information: Facebook page “Journey Into Wellness by Kim DePew,” or kimdepew@msn.com.


Downpour Brings Localized Flooding

A vehicle plows through a mini-lake at the Magic Valley Mall parking lot Saturday afternoon. A downpour at about 4 p.m. brought about ¾-inch of rain to Twin Falls, creating a few flooding problems but no reported injury accidents, law enforcement officials say. A spokesman at the Idaho State Police said four vehicles slid off U.S. 93 near Hollister, while the Twin Falls Police Department reported a vehicle got stuck at the Eastland Drive underpass south of Kimberly Road when a motorist attempted to drive through deep water. At Magic Valley Mall, a crowd gathered to see pickup trucks drive through a flooded area as a recreational activity.


National Weather Service Warns of Weather Conditions

TWIN FALLS | A significant weather advisory for southwestern Jerome and east central Twin Falls counties has been issued by the National Weather Service, and will last until 5:15 p.m.

at 4:08 p.m., Doppler radar was tracking a strong thunderstorm near Twin Falls moving southeast at 15 p.m.

Half-inch hail and winds in excess of 40 mph will be possible with the storm.


College Club Works to Preserve Southern Idaho Petroglyphs

BOISE (AP) | Petroglyphs found outside of Melba in Southern Idaho have been around for thousands of years, but these symbols carved into solid rock are fading. Erosion and vandalism have put these pieces of history in jeopardy. Now a student club from the College of Western Idaho is working to preserve them.

Native Americans have been using the area around Celebration Park, four miles outside of Melba, for thousands of years, according to Nikki Gorrell. She heads up the Anthropology program at CWI. Gorrell says the site along the Snake River is a perfect hunting ground. Her students have even found ancient hunting blinds — rocks placed to hide hunters from game — in the area.

For the past two years, Gorrell's students in the CWI Anthropology Club, have been mapping glyphs. The first step is to find the symbols, which were painstakingly picked out of solid rock hundreds or thousands of years ago. Gorrell says no one can say for certain what the symbols stand for, but many natives consider them sacred.

To find the engravings, students fan out in a row and walk a grid, looking for the sometimes hard-to-see pictures on the rocks. Once they find one, it is flagged and assigned to a group of students.

"These are spacial-mapping technologies that will allow us to pinpoint exact petroglyphs so we can go back to them," Gorrell says, "and not worry about wandering aimlessly. Because this is a huge boulder field."

Using the gold standard, the American Rock Art Research Association Guidelines, the students are systematically mapping the engravings.

Gorrell says students "grid" each rock. "The whole boulder has to be gridded with this fluorescent string that's taped all over the rock so that we can use that to accurately sketch it."

The sketch must be scaled down, a very time consuming part of the job. The rock is also carefully photographed.

The data is put into an online spatial database called ArcGIS. There, people from all over the world can find the GPS coordinates of the petroglyphs and see the photos and sketches the club has recorded. The club has been working on making this archive since March 2014.

Gorrell says when her students are in the field, surrounded by petroglyphs, they call it 'magical.' She says that's true.

Gorrell says there are thousands of years of tradition of people being drawn to this spot. And she believes there must be something special about the area.

"I think it's awakening people to appreciate whatever that is. And maybe we don't have to know what they mean to appreciate them," Gorrell says. "We can value them as they are. Maybe they can help us understand more about the people that actually pecked these images into the stones."


Two Car Accidents Reported Friday

EDEN | Two accidents along Interstate 84 near Eden were reported Friday within 35 minutes of each other, police say.

According to the Idaho State Police, Challis Rosa, 18, of Twin Falls, rolled her 1996 Pontiac Sunfire at 7:10 p.m. She was transported by ground ambulance to a hospital.

Her condition is unknown.

The second crash occurred at 7:45 p.m. and involved a 2012 Chevy Cruze driven by Joann Kopp, 41, of American Falls, and a 2014 GMC 2500 pickup that was towing a camp trailer. Britt Stanger, 47, of Twin Falls, was the driver. The circumstances of the crash and the condition of the drivers were unknown by the ISP.


Caldera Controversy: Folks in Fremont County Dead Set Against National Monument

ISLAND PARK • The notion of a national monument in the Caldera around Island Park has spawned a flurry of opposition over the past two years.

But a national monument designation in Fremont County is, from all appearances, a bit like Bigfoot: lots of people are scared of it, but there’s not a lot of evidence it exists — other than a few old footprints.

Area city councils and county commissions have passed resolutions opposing presidential action.

Fremont County put the question to voters in 2014, and 93 percent opposed the idea. During the 2015 legislative session, local legislators sponsored a resolution to send a message to Idaho’s congressional designation: no monument, please.

But for all that opposition, there appears to be very little hard evidence that the Obama Administration is actively considering a monument designation in the caldera.

The last confirmed evidence that such a designation was under consideration came from documents prepared in 2008, when former Gov. Dirk Kempthorne was at the head of the Department of the Interior.

Anti-monument activist Ken Watts sees evidence in the number of environmental groups that would like to see such a designation. Watts is chairman of the Caldera Heritage Association, which claims the dual goals of opposing monument designation and protecting local land and wildlife.

“There’s a lot of powerful forces out there who want a monument, and they’re well-funded and well-placed,” he said.

But Rep. Paul Romrell, R-St. Anthony, who sponsored the resolution expressing the Legislature’s opposition, is skeptical that Obama is considering a designation.

“Personally, I really don’t think so,” he said.

Rep. Van Burtenshaw, R-Terreton, another sponsor, couldn’t point to any clear indications, either.

Even Idaho Statesman environmental reporter Rocky Barker, who has become a vocal advocate of the monument, is skeptical.

“If I had to bet on it, I wouldn’t bet on it happening by the end of the administration,” he said.

Barker argued that it’s likely some administration will eventually move forward with designating the place, however. From Barker’s perspective, it’s just too special a place to be left to the vagaries of some future developer.

While most everybody agrees the caldera needs to be protected, nobody agrees on what that means.

For some environmental groups and activists, it means federal protection for the area’s natural treasures such as Mesa Falls.

For most locals it means “keeping things the way they are” — no feds and open access to the land for ATVs and snowmobiles.

That has made the notion the caldera could be designated a national monument the hottest of hot-button issues in Fremont County. And the fact that the Antiquities Act allows presidents to designate such monuments with the stroke of a pen has fueled paranoia, speculation and hot tempers.

Barker’s reporting and later advocacy have played a key role in the development of the issue.

The notion of designating a national monument in the area, Barker said, first was raised by a reader who submitted a letter in relation to the Statesman’s “Seven Wonders of Idaho” series. In a later piece, Barker dubbed the caldera “Idaho’s Yellowstone,” examining the potential economic impacts of drawing more tourists to the area.

Finally, in 2013, Barker uncovered documents showing Kempthorne was examining the prospects of declaring the caldera a national monument during his time as head of the Department of the Interior. And he raised the question of whether President Barack Obama might take up the issue where President George W. Bush had left it.

Watts said that wouldn’t sit well with folks in Fremont County.

“They came here because they like the way of life and the way it is,” he said. “So any threat of change is something they’re not really interested in.”

Watts sees the area as a place where he can live as he likes — deer, moose and elk wander through the backyard of his half-million-dollar cabin tucked away amid lodgepole pines. And he doesn’t want outsiders — the feds, environmental groups or Barker — to come in and change things.

But Barker argues the caldera is a treasure not only for those who live there; it’s a national treasure as well and should receive national protection.

But for all the disagreement, there are signs that some voluntary conservation activities could move forward in the area.

Watts said his group is considering collaborative protection, not with the feds, but local stakeholders and groups such as The Nature Conservancy and Teton Valley Land Trust, which negotiate voluntary agreements with landowners aimed at long-term preservation of a natural setting.

“We see them as a way to maintain the open spaces we have now,” Watts said. “We certainly don’t want to see someone take four- or five-hundred acres and put in ten thousand condominiums. That’s not keeping Island Park the way it is. So in cases where they can help maintain the character of the area, we would welcome them to the table.”

In the May 21 issue of the Island Park News, Watts wrote that it was time to move past the national monument debate and into another discussion about how best to protect the area.

“It is time to close this chapter on monument opposition and open a new chapter that has a focus on opportunities for coordination and cooperation,” he wrote. “More on these opportunities next week.”