Wednesday: Weird Winter, Illegal Wolf Kill, Corrections Dept. Audit

By Beacon Staff

Good morning; on the Beacon today; if recently it’s seemed like autumn – only with the vibrant reddish colors dulled to a rusty brown – you’re not confused about what time of year it is. A 49-year-old Kalispell man accused of illegally shooting and killing a wolf has pleaded guilty to violating the Endangered Species Act. The Supreme Court appeared willing Tuesday to say that the Constitution’s right to possess guns limits state and local regulation of firearms. But the justices also suggested that some gun control measures might not be affected.

NorthWestern Energy crews misread a map of the company’s pipelines in downtown Bozeman, contributing to a delay in shutting off natural gas that fueled a fire after an explosion last year, the Montana Public Service Commission found. Bozeman city commissioners say they plan to adopt temporary zoning regulations for medical marijuana shops while permanent rules can be drafted. The Senate on Tuesday passed a $10 billion measure to maintain unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless and provide stopgap funding for highway programs after a holdout Republican dropped stalling tactics that had generated a Washington firestorm. Like baseball players honing their skills at spring training, Montana legislators will be back in town Wednesday for a training day on the state budget, the economy, the federal stimulus and other topics. Sen. Jon Tester says U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack plans to visit Helena, Deer Lodge and Bozeman on Saturday. Montana’s penal agency has improperly handed out millions of dollars to private companies in no-bid deals or allowed companies to supervise Montana prisoners for years in deals with unsigned contracts, a new audit shows. A report released Tuesday by the National Center for Conservation Science and Policy suggests that drought conditions and flammable forest fuels are a more likely contributor to the American Northwest’s wildfire rate than an increase in the bark beetle population.