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Region in brief: Gregoire names Ecology director

OLYMPIA – Gov. Chris Gregoire has named Ted Sturdevant as director of the Washington state Department of Ecology.

Sturdevant, who was the agency’s director of governmental relations, replaces Jay Manning, who recently became Gregoire’s chief of staff. Sturdevant’s appointment was announced and took effect Monday.

Before joining the Ecology Department in 2003, Sturdevant led former Gov. Gary Locke’s external affairs team. He also has worked for lawmakers in Oregon.

Sturdevant’s salary will be $141,549 a year.

Coalition sues for end to bison kills

BILLINGS – A coalition of environmental and American Indian groups sued two federal agencies Monday to stop the mass slaughter of bison that migrate outside Yellowstone National Park in search of food.

During the last decade, federal agencies working with the state of Montana captured and shipped to slaughter more than 3,300 bison to prevent the spread of an animal disease to cattle.

Critics of that program have tried – unsuccessfully – to stop the practice through lobbying of government agencies and appeals to Congress.

Now they’re asking a U.S. District Court judge to intervene. The lawsuit filed Monday would bar the National Park Service and Forest Service from participation in the slaughter program.

The plaintiffs contend the two federal agencies have become beholden to the cattle industry and are ignoring their wildlife conservation mission. They also say the threat of the disease, brucellosis, has been overstated.

“It’s crazy for me to think that in a state like Montana, where we are rich in wildlife and wildlands, that we don’t have room for bison,” said Tom Woodbury with the Western Watersheds Project.

Woodbury’s group is one of nine plaintiffs in the case, which will likely be heard by Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula.

Temblor recorded in Yellowstone

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. – A minor earthquake shook a remote area of Yellowstone National Park.

The quake occurred north of Yellowstone Lake on Monday about 10 miles east of Canyon Village and had a preliminary magnitude of 3.1.

Yellowstone spokeswoman Linda Miller said no park staff reported feeling the earthquake.