Montana News Briefs

The Associated Press

Montana’s Teton Pass Ski Resort not opening this season

GREAT FALLS (AP) — Teton Pass Ski Resort in Montana will be closed this winter.

Charles Hlavac, Teton Pass general manager, said the resort’s owner announced the closure on the resort’s website without telling anyone in Choteau.

The Great Falls Tribune reports that New Zealand owner Nick Wood purchased the ski area in 2010 after it had been idle for two seasons. He refurbished the lodge, improved the chairlift and added runs.

The 400-acre ski area then sat out the 2011-2012 ski season after technical issues with obtaining insurance.

Hlavac said he knew Wood was unlikely to fund another season, but the ski area is not yet listed for sale.

He said the resort had an above average number of skiers, snow and revenue last year.


Silver mine opponents ask Montana to suspend permits

BILLINGS, (AP) — Environmentalists have asked Montana regulators to suspend permits for two silver mines citing concerns over the track record of the president of the company behind the proposals.

Attorneys for Earthworks, the Clark Fork Coalition and three other groups on Monday pressed officials to enforce a state law that blocks individuals who fail to reclaim old mines from starting new ones.

Hecla Mining Company of Idaho is proposing the Rock Creek and Montanore mines in northwest Montana.

Its president, Phillips Baker, was formerly an executive with Pegasus Gold Inc., which operated three mines that environmentalists say left surrounding waterways polluted.

Hecla spokesman Luke Russell said the environmentalists were misconstruing the law to block the new mines.

Department of Environmental Quality spokeswoman Kristi Ponozzo said the agency was reviewing the environmentalists’ request.


Montana to ramp up testing for chronic wasting disease

MISSOULA (AP) — Montana is bolstering its efforts this hunting season to watch for a fatal wildlife disease that has been making its way to the state.

Big game hunting season opened over the weekend, and according to a news release, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will be setting up check stations around the state to collect lymph node samples from hunter-harvested deer and elk to check for chronic wasting disease.

The disease is a fatal neurological condition that affects elk, deer and moose. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks also is collecting samples from road-killed animals.

The disease is caused by infectious proteins which result in organ damage and eventual death.

The department plans to rotate surveillance efforts among several priority areas of the state: South central, southeast and north central and northeast.


Montana man arrested after 80-year-old father shot to death

HELENA (AP) — A 44-year-old eastern Montana man has been arrested as authorities investigate the death of his 80-year-old father in Glendive.

The state Division of Criminal Investigation said Todd C. Fisher was arrested Friday in the death of Wilbur Fisher. Todd Fisher reported finding his father’s body on Monday morning.

An autopsy found Wilbur Fisher had died of a single gunshot wound to the head.

DCI aided the Dawson County sheriff’s office in investigating the case. Deputy County Attorney Brett Irigoin has sealed the affidavit in the case.

No court appearances for Todd Fisher have been scheduled. He was not listed on the Dawson County jail roster on Saturday.


Officials warn of mountain lion sighting near Mount Helena

HELENA (AP) — Officials in western Montana are warning hikers to use care after a mountain lion was spotted.

Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton says the mountain lion was seen on the south side of Mount Helena. The Independent Record reports that a state wildlife agency also found a deer killed in the same area on Saturday.

Dutton says mountain lion attacks on humans are extremely rare. To be safe, hikers should keep any children in the middle of a group.

If hikers see a mountain lion, Dutton says they should not turn their back or run away but instead keep eye contact, make a loud noise and wave their arms to appear bigger.

If an animal does attack, Dutton says people should try to protect their neck and fight back.