PARKS – The National Park Service says a climbing ranger who fell to his death during a rescue operation at Mount Rainier National Park last year was not roped for safety or equipped with an ice ax at the time of the accident.
Nick Hall, 33, was a four-year climbing ranger at the park. He fell roughly 2,400 feet while helping to rescue four injured climbers from Texas on June 21, 2012.
A review into the accident released Monday found a pervasive pattern of rangers being comfortable being unroped on the mountain and that they had become desensitized to the risks.
Park Superintendent Randy King says the park is establishing more stringent protocols for those who work on the mountain and improving training for its rangers.
Lake-trout netting ends at Priest Lake
FISHING – More than 4,000 lake trout were caught and handled – most of them released – during the first phase of a Priest Lake fisheries assessment that ended May 17, the Idaho Fish and Game Department reports.
Most of those lake trout were tagged and released, but 27 percent were killed in handling, including 418 intentionally killed for diet and age studies.
The research will continue next year as the agency compiles data before deciding how to manage the lake fishery in the future.
North Carolina kayaker drowns in NF Payette
RIVERS – A 22-year-old North Carolina man has died in a kayaking accident on the Payette River in Idaho, north of Boise.
Boise County officials say Eric Weigel of Asheville, N.C., was kayaking the North Fork of the Payette with two friends on Wednesday afternoon when he apparently flipped over and hit his head, losing consciousness.
The sheriff’s department said Weigel was upside down in his kayak for several minutes before friends could get him to shore. He died at the scene.
The sheriff’s office says Weigel and his friends were on the final day of a 21-day whitewater rafting trip when the accident happened.
The North Fork of the Payette is known for its challenging Class V rapids.
Montana initiative would ban trapping
WILDLIFE – Montana officials are reviewing a proposed initiative for the 2014 ballot that would ban animal trapping on public lands in Montana.
A similar initiative failed to qualify for the 2010 election, but the issue has since received widespread attention because of the state’s decision to allow wolf trapping for the first time during the 2012-13 hunting season.
Trappers say it is a necessary wildlife management tool that helps sustain and maintain some animal populations by keeping others, such as wolves, in check.
Trappers were responsible for 97 of the 225 wolves killed during the hunting season, and they were instrumental in reducing the predators’ population in the state by 4 percent.
But 55 dogs were caught in traps during the 2012-13 season, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and there were highly publicized instances of other species, such as mountain lions, being caught.
Montana Trappers Association spokesman Toby Walrath said he is doubtful such an initiative could muster much support. Trapping is a part of Montana’s culture and many families are financially dependent upon it, he said.
WILDLIFE -- The drought-related outbreak of bluetongue that’s killing white-tailed deer in the region by the hundreds, is adding urgency to a commonly asked problem: “What do we do with the ...