October 3, 2011 in Region

NW today: Group sues to protect pygmy rabbit

Compiled from wire reports
Associated Press photo

This undated image provided by Washington State University shows an endangered pygmy rabbit in the wild in Eastern Washington.
(Full-size photo)

What’s news in the Northwest today:

An environmental group is suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over its decision that the tiny pygmy rabbit does not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act. The Western Watersheds Project, based in Hailey, Idaho, said the rabbits were first identified as possibly in need of protection in 2003, and their numbers have diminished since. They contend the rabbits are suffering from loss of habitat caused in large part by livestock grazing. Environmental groups have tried for years to win protection for the rabbits, which can fit in the palm of a human hand. The latest effort ended a year ago when the Fish and Wildlife Service denied endangered species protection.

Hospitals asked to look for missing Oregon cyclist

PORTLAND — The search for a missing Oregon cyclist who might be suffering from brain cancer has spawned a coast-to-coast volunteer effort that includes checking hospitals for John Doe patients who don’t know their name. So far, there is no trace of Mark Bosworth, 54, who vanished on Sept. 16 while he was accompanying more than 2,000 riders on the seven-day Cycle Oregon tour through Southern Oregon. Bosworth’s relatives in Portland think he may have suffered a relapse of cancer that has attacked his brain and caused dementia-like symptoms, police said. After a search in and around the town of Riddle turned up no sign of Bosworth in the days immediately after his disappearance, many of the efforts to locate him have relied on blogs and social media.

Senator must return mileage money

BOISE — A Republican senator must return at least $2,402 to Idaho after he was inappropriately reimbursed for daily mileage between the Capitol and his Nampa home because he said he was spending nights during the legislative session sleeping on a couch in his Boise office. Sen. Curt McKenzie must repay the money for 2010 and 2011 sessions, though state officials are trying to determine if McKenzie must repay mileage reimbursements for previous years. The Associated Press discovered the errors while reporting on a story about how McKenzie and Republican Sen. John McGee of Caldwell billed taxpayers $122 per day for a second residence during the Legislature. McKenzie told The AP he was sleeping on his law office couch, while McGee acknowledged he was staying at his parents’ home in Boise. That amounted to more than $6,400 in extra pay apiece during the 2011 session.

Mule deer attacked Idaho woman, rescuer

BOISE — A woman was able to escape an attack by a mule deer after a passerby and his daughter fought off the buck, grabbing the antlers and striking it with a hammer until it fled, state wildlife officials said. Sue Panter was on a stroll near her home in rural southeastern Idaho when the buck attacked, raking her body with his antlers and goring her legs, officials said. Michael Vaughan and his 17-year-old daughter, Alexis, spotted the struggle early Friday and tried to intervene, the state Department of Fish and Game said in a statement Sunday. Vaughan’s daughter got out of their vehicle and started punching the deer, while he grabbed the buck by the antlers, which allowed Panter to escape, according to the agency. Vaughan said that while he wrestled with the buck, his daughter retrieved a hammer and struck the deer. The man’s legs were punctured three times during the struggle, wildlife officials said.

Gregoire orders sale of $49,000 Lotto-Mobile

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Gov. Chris Gregoire has ordered the state Lottery to sell a new $49,000 Mercedes van it had purchased as a “Lotto-mobile” to boost ticket sales. Spokeswoman Karina Shagren told The Olympian that Gregoire took a look at the cost of the marketing idea and decided it “doesn’t meet state values right now.” Lottery Director Bill Hanson said he has already called the dealer in Lynnwood and was met with questions. The van has about 300 miles on it now, and Hanson is unsure how much money he can cover.

Colton Harris-Moore’s sentencing delayed to Dec. 9

SEATTLE — The sentencing for Colton Harris-Moore in the “Barefoot Bandit” case has been rescheduled to Dec. 9 in federal court in Seattle to allow more time to settle state charges. He had been scheduled for sentencing Oct. 28. Defense attorney John Henry Browne told The Daily Herald extra time also was requested by federal probation officials to review documents describing Harris-Moore’s childhood on Camano Island. Harris-Moore is accused of a multistate crime spree that included plane theft, boat theft and multiple burglaries in homes and business. He evaded arrest for more than two years and was arrested in July 2010 in the Bahamas. In June, Harris-Moore pleaded guilty to seven federal charges, but he still faces more than 30 charges in Island, Skagit, San Juan and Snohomish counties.

Police looking for third pickpocket suspect

SEATTLE – Seattle police are asking for citizens’ help to catch a third suspect in a pickpocket ring that’s targeted dozens Seattle. On Sept. 29, a tip from a Washington’s Most Wanted viewer helped police find one thief; another was arrested a few weeks ago. Investigators said the trio hangs out in some of Seattle’s busiest areas. They’ve been doing the scam for so long some police call them ”professional pickpockets.” They prey on the kindness of strangers, creating a diversion that involves a man or woman in trouble and then ripping off the people who come to their aid or get stuck behind them.

Muslims asks for investigation of FBI bias

SEATTLE — A Washington Muslim group is asking the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate anti-Islam bias in FBI trainings of law enforcement officers and regular citizens. The Washington Council on American-Islam Relations mailed a letter today to the department’s civil right division. The letter lists complaints about FBI trainings, including one in Seattle last spring, where they say participants at a “citizen’s academy” were given a handout comparing Arab/Islamic propaganda with Nazi propaganda. A Muslim-American woman who participated in the training says she was surprised by the handout because everything else about the “citizen’s academy” had been respectful. She complained to the FBI but says she hasn’t received a response. The FBI in Seattle has issued a statement saying the agency is currently conducting a comprehensive review of all training and reference materials that relate to religion or culture.

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