Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Warden Frank Bowen, who for more than two years pursued poaching charges against several law enforcement officers in Lake County, has been reassigned—temporarily, for now—to the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.
The move, made official on Aug. 14, appeared to result from the stiff resistance Bowen faced in investigating the poaching cases, none of which have been prosecuted. Bowen, for example, received multiple death threats, and earlier this year Lake County Attorney Mitch Young filed a formal complaint against him, which was found to be without merit. Even FWP has tried to keep Bowen quiet, requiring the Montana Legislature's Law and Justice Interim Committee to subpoena him to testify about the findings of his investigations at a hearing in June.
In the memo to Bowen explaining the reassignment (PDF), Warden Captain Lee Anderson wrote:
Given the current [Montana Public Safety Officer Standards and Training Council (POST)] investigation into Lake County, the notice of intent to sue FWP by other law enforcement officers in Lake County, the unwillingness of County Attorney Mitch Young to prosecute any of your cases, combined with threats to your personal safety and jurisdictional questions regarding state game warden authority on the Flathead Indian Reservation, we feel this reassignment is in your, as well as the Department’s best interest for the time being.
Anderson's memo mentions Bowen's intentions to file formal complaints with the Attorney General's Office and the Office of Disciplinary Council against Young for smearing Bowen and refusing to prosecute his cases.
We want to make it clear that FWP does not support you doing this in your official capacity as a Montana Game Warden. FWP does not have control over what you do in your personal time as a private citizen. However, FWP has a responsibility to safeguard confidential criminal justice information from dissemination. It is FWP Legal Counsel's opinion that the use of confidential criminal justice information gathered in your official capacity as a Game Warden to file complaints would be a prohibited use of department information.
Bowen was unavailable for comment.
Poaching is one of the allegations of misconduct involving law enforcement officers from various agencies in Lake County. There are several others. POST, the state agency that polices the police, is investigating at least seven Lake County officers and could revoke their badges. Meanwhile, five current and former officers in the Lake County Sheriff’s Department filed a federal lawsuit alleging that four of their colleagues, including Sheriff Jay Doyle, retaliated against them for bringing forward evidence of wrongdoing within the department.
Randy Lee Tenley, 44, of Kalispell, died Sunday night after being struck by two cars on Highway 93. According to the Associated Press, Tenley was dressed in a full “ghillie” suit and was trying to "provoke reports of a Bigfoot sighting in northwest Montana." The Daily Inter Lake adds alcohol may have been a factor, but investigators are awaiting test results.
Naturally, this strange incident got the attention of NMA's animation specialists. This is the Taiwanese company that previously produced videos of a Missoula runner fending off the world's largest black bear (at least that's how the video shows it) and a Missoula author drinking champagne in a cave with a man who quit money (or something; it's the weirdest).
Below you can see their latest creation for the Bigfoot hoax gone wrong, complete with Harry and the Hendersons references.
Fast-moving wildfire burns its way from Idaho into Montana
The Mustang Complex wildfire burned across tens of thousands of acres over the weekend in Idaho's Salmon-Challis National Forest into the Bitterroot National Forest in Montana.
Ravalli Republic; Aug. 28
USFS officials in Colorado crack down on ATV, snowmobile rental companies
Three national forests in Colorado are among the six most-frequently visited in the nation, and federal land managers said a sharp increase in the number of companies that rent and deliver mountain bikes, all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles to trailheads for customers forced them to order two companies to stop delivering ATVs and snowmobiles at the Vail Pass summit parking area.
Denver Post; Aug. 28
Not so fast on that last one.
This past weekend, just before the start of the Republican convention, 2016 jumped from 169 theaters to 1,091 and ended up grossing $6.2 million. Entertainment Weekly puts those numbers in perspective:
2016 has earned $9.1 million after seven weekends, making it the highest grossing conservative documentary ever, above Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, which grossed $7.7 million in 2008. While the film has already earned more than most documentaries could ever dream of earning (The Weinstein Company’s much-publicized doc Bully grossed $3.5 million), its gross doesn’t yet compare to Michael Moore’s liberal doc Fahrenheit 9/11, which grossed $119.2 million in 2004, George W. Bush’s re-election year. Keep in mind that film had a major studio (Lionsgate) and marketing campaign behind it, and it opened in 868 theaters. 2016 opened in one theater — in Houston — and had to rely on word-of-mouth and talk radio promotions before its national ad campaign kicked off two weeks ago.
2016 was made for $2.5 million and is distributed by Rocky Mountain Pictures. While the expansion into more theaters hurt the film's per-theater average (dropping from $7,365 to $5,718), EW notes "it still notched the highest per-theater average in the Top 20."
Molen spoke in late June to the Glacier Country Pachyderm Club and called the upcoming election one that will be "heard around the world" and "for many generations," and said Obama was drawing the "blueprint for the end of America." The Flathead Beacon reported that he likened the country's current situation to "how European Jews failed to fully grasp the extent of the Nazis’ aggression until it was too late."
"They were asleep to the horrors around them,” the paper quoted him as saying.
You can see a trailer for the film below:
Wyoming legislator proposes changes to bison-hunt regulations
The number of bison on the National Elk Refuge has grown far beyond the carrying capacity of the land, and Rep. Keith Gingery wants to make changes to Wyoming's hunting regulations to make it easier for hunters to kill cows, including changing permits from once-in-a-lifetime to an opportunity to hunt a cow bison once every five years and lowering the cost of a cow permit for nonresidents from $2,500 to $1,000.
Jackson Hole Daily; Aug. 27
Group petitions Idaho to allow use of weevils to control milfoil in lake
Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper filed a petition against the Idaho State Department of Agriculture to force a change in policy that will allow the use of biological agents to control noxious weeds, and in particular the use of weevils to combat Eurasian milfoil in Lake Pend Oreille.
Idaho Statesman (Bonner County Bee); Aug. 27
This week, burning toilets and huffing Reddi-wip.
Curses, Foiled Again!
When a taxi arrived at its destination in Bowie, Md., the passenger demanded money from the driver, then “struck him in the head and then threw some kind of liquid on him,” Police Chief Chuck Nesky said. The passenger then ignited the liquid. As it caught fire, the driver escaped, but the passenger didn’t. Firefighters who extinguished the blaze found the would-be robber’s body in the back seat, burned beyond recognition. (The Washington Post)
Authorities believe they've found the remains of Noah Pippin, an Iraq War veteran and former member of the Los Angeles Police Department who went missing in the Bob Marshall Wilderness in September 2010. News broke early today that a search crew of Lewis and Clark County sheriff's personnel and border patrol agents discovered human remains at the head of Burnt Creek, near the Chinese Wall, on Friday and that circumstantial evidence indicates they belong to Pippin. Pippin's parents, Mike and Rosalie, and his younger brother Caleb have been in Montana for about a week searching for leads and meeting with officials.
Pippin went missing after a visit to his family's home in Lake Ann, Michigan, in late summer 2010. He was due back in California for training with a National Guard unit, but never showed up. After repeated inquiries with law enforcement, his parents discovered that Pippin had driven his rental car to the Kalispell area, then proceeded on foot along Hungry Horse Reservoir and into the Bob. Several groups encountered Pippin on his trek over the Continental Divide Trail. The last, a family from Great Falls, said Pippin had intended to leave the trail and bushwhack along the Chinese Wall south to White River Pass. The mystery of his disappearance and his parents' unending resolve to find their son were the subject of an Indy cover story and, later, an episode of the Discovery Channel program "Disappeared" this spring.
Pippin was described as a quiet, reserved man with a deep interest in philosophy. He saw action during the Iraq War, and was injured during his third and final tour when an SUV blew up next to his Humvee in Fallujah. Observers on the trail during his Montana trek said Pippin seemed ill-prepared for such a long journey. He took little more than a poncho, a plastic water jug, a day pack and a .38 pistol. Pippin was 30 when he went missing.
A search crew last fall failed to uncover any clues as to Pippin's whereabouts before inclement weather set in. They did, however, manage to rescue a diabetic man whose insulin pump had malfunctioned. The man, it turned out, was also from Michigan.
Jeez, how hot can it get? Missoula's felt like the inside of a rotisserie oven the past few weeks, and we've been on a constant hunt for a cool escape—besides, you know, floating the river. We're pretty sure we found it...
This week: Soul City Kölsch, from Draught Works
What you’re drinking: She’s a beaut. Light, crisp, lip-smackingly tasty—a real tall drink of, well, beer. Draught Works tapped its latest seasonal on August 22: Soul City Kölsch, named, obviously, for Missoula. Co-owner and brewer Jeff Grant says the latest round of scorcher weather and the sweat beading on their customers’ foreheads were duly noted by the brewery. Soul City is their answer. “Hot as July was, we were ready to do a refreshing, great, summer patio beer.”
The backstory: Draught Works regulars are already familiar with the brewery’s altbier, a type of beer with origins in Düsseldorf, Germany. Kölsch hails from Cologne, just across the Rhine, and the two use the same ale yeast strain. The big difference with kölsch is that, unlike altbier, it’s cold-conditioned—or lagered—after fermentation. Hence the summer-beeriness. “Hopefully it gets us through the hot days,” Grant says.
Why you should get some, now: Besides the fact that the temperature might start to slump, Draught Works’s seasonals aren’t around forever. And Soul City has taken off. In its first two days alone, it was a top seller. The brief tap life of seasonals is largely due to the fact that Draught Works has five flagship beers, Grant explains. It’s been tough to find room for new brews without disrupting the likes of Scepter Head IPA and Gwin Du Oatmeal Stout. But the brewery’s getting better at “sneaking more in,” Grant says. They have two more seasonals on deck for September. As brewers, Grant says, “we like making new things.”
Where to find it: Soul City’s being poured noon to 8 p.m., Sunday through Sunday, at the Draught Works Brewery. That’s 915 Toole Avenue, on the Northside.
Happiest Hour celebrates western Montana watering holes. To recommend a bar, bartender or beverage for Happiest Hour, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
After some 12 years working on-and-off as the Indy Photo Editor Chad Harder has chosen to move on from his tiny basement office here. Chad has a long and distinguished history at the paper and Montana Headwall magazine, where he also served as photo editor.
He's been through a lot for us. In 2000, Missoula police used pepper spray on him while he documented the downtown riot spawned by the Hell's Angels' visit. In 2009, he nearly lost his right hand while on assignment for Headwall. Since then, he's made a remarkable recovery.
For those of you who have enjoyed Chad's work over the years, we've assembled a slideshow featuring, in Chad's words, some "fairly random images over the last three and a half years." Thanks, Chad.
Romney promises to give states lead on mining, drilling on federal lands
At a rally in New Mexico on Thursday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney laid out details of his energy plan that includes speedy approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, and giving states control of oil, gas and coal resources on federal lands.
New York Times; Aug. 24
Montana city's deal with Canadian company could mean 300 new jobs
At a meeting Thursday, Brett Doney, president of the Great Falls Development Authority, announced that a Canadian company plans to build a plant north of the Montana city that will employ 300 workers, but Doney could not provide additional information as the publicly traded company must still get shareholder approval for the project.
Great Falls Tribune; Aug. 24
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