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NW today: Poaching may rival legal harvests

Tue., Nov. 16, 2010, 8:19 a.m.

What’s news in the Northwest today:

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife believes poachers kill as many mule deer as legal hunters. That’s one reason the mule deer population in the state has dropped to 216,000 animals from historic peaks of more than 300,000. State biologists discovered the level of poaching during a five-year research study of deer between Bend and the California border. Poachers typically kill female deer, which are more important to reproduction.

Tax commission pushes permits after squash skirmish

LEWISTON — Idaho Tax Commission agents are going out of their way to tout temporary seller’s permits for the holidays, after getting a black eye at Halloween in a skirmish over squash. A Lewiston family that was told it needed a tax permit to sell pumpkins claimed an overly zealous Tax Commission employee tried to put them out of business. The state agency insisted the incident got blown out of proportion. But it’s now trying to get the word out ahead of the Christmas season, sending media releases about how vendors can get their temporary permits over agency’s state website.

North Idaho election dispute appealed to high court

COEUR D’ALENE — A North Idaho candidate who lost his bid for the Coeur d’Alene City Council last year by five votes is appealing his case to the Idaho Supreme Court. Jim Brannon filed a district court lawsuit against incumbent Mike Kennedy and the city of Coeur d’Alene to dispute his loss. In September, Brannon lost yet again after a judge ruled in favor of Kennedy. Brannon alleged in district court that some votes for Kennedy were cast illegally by people who don’t live in Coeur d’Alene. Kennedy denied the allegations. The district court narrowed the vote margin in the contest from five to three votes, but ruled that Kennedy had won re-election and would keep his seat. Brannon is seeking a new district court trial.

Washington raises ferry fares 2.5 percent

SEATTLE — The state Transportation Commission approved a 2.5 percent ferry fare increase over the objections of Tim Eyman, who argued his recently passed initiative requires state lawmakers to OK the hike. Eyman asked the commission at Monday’s meeting in Seattle to wait a week for the state attorney general’s opinion on the effect of Initiative 1053. Unless there is a delay, the higher fares go into effect in January.

Lewis-McChord hearing on Afghan killing continues

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. — A hearing continues Tuesday at Joint Base Lewis-McChord for a Boise soldier accused of killing a civilian in Afghanistan. On the first day of the hearing Monday, Army prosecutors said 20-year-old Pfc. Andrew Holmes should face a court-martial. A defense lawyer said Holmes was following an order to fire. Holmes said he did not commit murder. He is one of five soldiers accused of killing three Afghan civilians earlier this year in Kandahar Province. Holmes is charged with one count of premeditated murder. The hearing at the military base near Tacoma will determine whether there’s sufficient evidence for a court-martial.

Idaho releases 100 sturgeon into Snake River

BOISE — Idaho is stocking white sturgeon in the Snake River south of Boise, in a bid to bolster the population of these peculiar-looking giants in an area unsuited to natural breeding. One hundred sturgeon, ranging from three to more than five feet, will be released at Swan Falls, with 10 released on Monday. The fish are no longer needed at the College of Southern Idaho’s aquaculture education program in Twin Falls. This effort is aimed for a reach of the Snake River that’s without the flow and habitat necessary for a natural sturgeon population. Most of the roughly 150 sturgeon already here are old, large fish.

Helicopter pilot breaks bones in Salem crash

SALEM, Ore. — The Polk County sheriff’s office says a helicopter pilot suffered broken bones when he crashed at a Christmas tree farm Monday in Salem. The 41-year-old was taken to Oregon Health & Science University Hospital in Portland. Federal investigators are looking into what went wrong with the helicopter, which is owned by Precision Helicopter Services of Newberg.

Idaho spud production down, prices up

POCATELLO, Idaho — Records show Idaho farmers grew fewer potatoes this season compared to the 2009 harvest. But the smaller harvest is not exactly bad news. That’s because industry officials say prices are up for Idaho spuds. Idaho growers harvested 294,000 acres of potatoes this year, down 25,000 acres from 2009 and the lowest total on record since 1980. Idaho is still the nation’s leading producer of tubers, and officials are hopeful demand and prices will remain closely aligned for the rest of the year.

Defense to open bank bomb case for Oregon man, son

SALEM — The defense is expected to open its case in the aggravated murder trial of an Oregon man and his son accused of a bank bombing in Woodburn two years ago that killed two police officers. Bruce Turnidge and his son, Joshua, are on trial in Marion County Circuit Court in Salem. The prosecution rested its case last week against the pair, who implicated each other. The attorney for Joshua Turnidge, Steve Krasik, said in opening statements he intends to show the younger Turnidge had no role in the bombing — and that police made mistakes.

Lawsuit alleges officer cuffed boy, 8

PORTLAND — A federal civil rights lawsuit has been filed in the case of an Oregon third grader whose mother says he was handcuffed by a police officer after the child’s teacher locked him out of class with no supervision. The lawsuit says the teacher sent the boy out of class for being disruptive on Oct. 14, 2009, and he began throwing chairs in a hallway. Police apparently were called after an incorrect report that the then 8-year-old boy had left the school. The suit alleges excessive force, false imprisonment and discrimination, saying the boy was diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Suspect in Boise robberies already jailed

BOISE — Boise police say they’ve found a suspect in two retail store robberies. He was already in jail. Police released surveillance footage of the Nov. 7 robberies and a citizen tip helped identify 26-year-old Michael A. Espinoza as a suspect. Officers obtained an arrest warrant on two felony counts of robbery for Espinoza, who has been in the Canyon County jail since Nov. 10 on a parole violation. Officials did not say what the alleged parole violation was.

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