NW today: Predator killing birds at Walla Walla aviary

What’s news in the Northwest today:

WALLA WALLA, Wash. — A predator has killed more than two dozen geese, peacocks and other rare birds in the past two months in the aviary at Pioneer Park in Walla Walla. Caretaker Joanna Lanning believes the killer is a raccoon, seen at night on a motion detector camera. The raccoon has been captured on camera, but not in any of the live traps placed around the aviary. KEPR reports two trappers are trying to catch the predator and save the birds. Keepers have patched fencing and netting, but they don’t know how the predator is getting inside.

Inmates had filed grievances versus slain guard

Newly released documents show several grievances were filed by inmates of the Monroe Correctional Complex over operations of the prison chapel in the years before corrections officer Jayme Biendl was strangled there last January. Biendl was the subject of numerous grievances by prisoners over the years because of her enforcement of prison policies at the chapel. The grievances, obtained by The Associated Press from the state Department of Corrections, were all dismissed as without merit. To be sure, Biendl’s death was not related to any of those grievances. Inmate Byron Scherf has been charged with aggravated murder in the case. But the past grievances help shed light on the pressures of working inside the walls of the state’s prisons, even in a place as relatively peaceful as the chapel.

Manganese giving Ocean Shores water yellow tint

OCEAN SHORES, Wash. — Residents of Ocean Shores are being told not to worry about the yellow tint in the drinking water. Water utility superintendent Miles Beach tells KBKW it’s still safe to drink. He says the water treatment plant isn’t removing all of the naturally occurring manganese.

Feds agree to deadline for sea turtle safety zone

SAN FRANCISCO — Conservation groups and federal fisheries managers have settled a lawsuit seeking to spur the government to finalize its plan for creating a large protection zone for endangered leatherback sea turtles off the Pacific coast of the U.S. The settlement filed today in U.S. District Court requires the National Marine Fisheries Service to finalize the details of its critical habitat plans for the turtles by Nov. 15. The Center for Biological Diversity and other groups sued after the service missed a deadline to designate 70,600 square miles off the coast of the western U.S. as safe zone for the animals. The large turtles have an immense range, swimming from Indonesia to the U.S. to lay eggs. The newly protected areas are meant to protect their migratory routes and food supply.

$100,000 vandalism at Snohomish High School

EVERETT, Wash. — Vandalism damage at Snohomish High School could exceed $100,000. Police say intruders wrecked offices, toppled at least 50 computers, broke a trophy case and destroyed an antique cabinet in the library where hundreds of books were thrown on the floor. The Daily Herald reports officers responded to an alarm at 4 a.m. Monday and arrested a 16-year-old Snohomish girl and 17-year-old Lynnwood boy as they tried to run away.

Judge blocks new Idaho anti-union law

BOISE — A federal judge has blocked a new Idaho law that targeted unions. The law, which passed with heavy Republican support during the 2011 session, would have prohibited unions from using the dues they collect to subsidize members’ wages, as part of efforts to help union contractors submit winning bids on projects. But the Idaho Statesman reports that U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill issued a preliminary injunction on Friday after unions sued. The unions argued the law was unconstitutional because Idaho sought to pre-empt matters already governed by Congress. In his decision, Winmill agreed the unions had a good chance of succeeding.

Cyberattack still being fought at national lab

RICHLAND, Wash. – Pacific Northwest National Laboratory workers have only limited use of their computer systems this morning because of Friday’s cyberattack. More computer services are expected to be turned on at the lab during the next three to four days, with re-establishing internal email access the first priority. Employees worked through the 4th of July weekend, some as long as 36 hours in a row, to diagnose and fix the problem, said Greg Koller, spokesman for the Department of Energy laboratory in Richland. PNNL initially believed it was not the primary target of the cyberattack, which hit other research organizations as well, but by Monday computer experts no longer were sure. When the attack was discovered Friday afternoon, PNNL immediately shut down most internal network services. PNNL’s website was reconnected Friday evening but again was shut down by Monday morning. No classified information was compromised or was in danger from the attack.

Pilot suffers broken legs in ultra-light crash

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — Jefferson County officials say an ultra-light aircraft crashed into a field northeast of Idaho Falls during a test flight, breaking the pilot’s legs. Sheriff Blair Olson says pilot Dennis Custard was air-lifted to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center after the crash in the Heise area at about 1 p.m. Monday. The pilot and co-owner had just rebuilt the craft. The sheriff’s office tells KIFI-TV that Custard was hospitalized in critical condition Monday night. Olson says it appears the crash happened from a combination of mechanical failures and crosswinds.

Kayaker missing in Kittitas County river

ELLENSBURG, Wash. — The Kittitas County sheriff’s swift-water rescue team is searching the Cooper River for a kayaker who capsized Monday 15 miles northwest of Roslyn. Authorities say two men were in the inflatable kayak that capsized shortly after they entered the water. One man was wearing a life jacket and made it to shore. Searchers are looking for a 47-year-old Renton man, Lyvben Gankova. He was not wearing a life jacket. KIRO-TV reports the sheriff’s office says the river is running fast and cold because of the mountain snow melt.

Development would expand old WA coal town 5 times

BLACK DIAMOND, Wash. — The King County town of Black Diamond takes its name from its history of coal mining. Now it could be remade by a development that would expand its population five times over to more than 20,000 people. Over the next 15 or 20 years, more than 6,000 homes could be built on 1,500 acres. The developer, Yarrow Bay Holdings of Kirkland, says it will keep 40 percent of the land in wetlands or parks. Some residents are fighting, concerned about traffic and environmental impacts. The Seattle Times reports a decision by the Central Puget Sound Growth Management Hearing Board is being reviewed in court. Opponents also complain the developer has too much influence because it’s paying the city $1.6 million this year — about 35 percent of its general fund.

Lawmakers tout law allowing schools to employ kids

BOISE — A new state law allowing public schools to employ children under age 14 didn’t sit well with some lunchroom and janitorial staffers who fear the measure that went into effect this month will place their jobs in jeopardy. Republican Sen. Chuck Winder, of Boise, sponsored the legislation in the 2011 session. But it was Democrats who were defending the new law at a forum last week. State Rep. Roy Lacey of Pocatello says the measure wasn’t written to take jobs away from school lunchroom and janitorial workers, but to help kids who may be from low-income families and have a hard time accepting “handouts.” The change allows students under age 14 to earn money for working up to 10 hours a week, with the consent of their legal guardian.

Fire shuts down RR trestle near Bellingham

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — Fire has shut down a railroad trestle over Bellingham Bay about a mile south of Bellingham. Burlington Northern Santa Fe spokesman Gus Melonas says there was no structural damage, but crews are replacing 210 feet of rail and 100 bridge ties on the 212-foot-long structure. The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Melonas says Monday night fireworks are a possibility. The fire was extinguished about 2 a.m. today by a Bellingham fire boat. The single track rail line serves about 15 trains a day, including Amtrak, between Canada and the Puget Sound region. The railroad hopes to reopen the track Monday afternoon.

Seattle immobilizing cars over parking tickets

SEATTLE — The city of Seattle is starting to immobilize cars with four or more unpaid parking tickets in an attempt to force scofflaws to pay up more than $20 million. Starting today, the city is holding cars with “the boot,” a device that keeps the driver from leaving until outstanding tickets are paid — plus $145 to remove the boot. The reports there are about 30,000 cars in Seattle that could get the boot.

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