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NW Today: Mass honey bee die-off in Oregon

SHERWOOD, Ore. — The Oregon Department of Agriculture is investigating the die-off of thousands of honeybees in Sherwood.

KGW reports dead bees were found Sunday scattered along on Highway 99 at Sunset Boulevard.

State Insect Pest Prevention and Management specialist Pat Mitchell says there are many theories but the state won’t know what happened until samples are completely tested.

There are agricultural fields nearby.

Last year, tens of thousands of bees were found dead in a Wilsonville shopping center. Two companies were fined for spraying pesticide that killed the bees.

Farm labor shortage reported in Washington

YAKIMA — The state reported a 5 percent farm labor shortage for March in Washington.

The Yakima Herald-Republic reports it’s the first time since 2008 that a farmworker shortage was reported as early as March.

An economist with the state Employment Security Department, John Wines, says the shortage was largely caused by the weather. There was little spring frost and orchards bloomed about a week earlier than last year, so growers need more help thinning blooms.

Kennewick family farm seeking public investors

KENNEWICK — A big family farm based in Kennewick is seeking public investors. Taggares Agriculture recently filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public stock offering to raise up to $48 million.

The Tri-City Herald reports the company was founded in 1979 and is headed by Pete Taggares IV. It had sales last year of about $8 million. The company plans to list on the Nasdaq under the symbol TAG.

State of Montana gives $900K for aging, memory research

HELENA — Gov. Steve Bullock’s office says more than $900,000 in state funds will go to help create the Montana Center for Aging Research and Memory Care.

The center will research and treat memory disorders and neurogenerative diseases from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

The governor’s office said Monday the center is an alliance between the McLaughlin Research Institute for Biomedical Sciences and Benefis Health System in Great Falls.

The $904,500 will come from the state Department of Commerce’s Bio-Medical Research Grant Program. The money will go to implement new technology, buy updated lab equipment and supplies, pay for seven scientists and researchers and support an animal resource center.

The Legislature last year appropriated $1 million for the Montana Department of Commerce to grant funds for bio-medical research in Montana.

Nampa man sentenced for stealing BLM sandstone

BOISE — A 46-year-old Nampa man has been sentenced to nine months in prison for stealing nearly 10,000 pounds of sandstone from Bureau of Land Management lands.

U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson says Brian Kirkpatrick was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court in Boise.

He must also serve three years of supervised probation after prison.

Prosecutors say Kirkpatrick started stealing the sandstone in November 2012 and selling it commercially for landscape projects.

U.S. District Court Judge Edward Lodge also ordered Kirkpatrick to pay $1,472 in restitution, as well as $146 in restitution for a probation violation.

Lodge also ordered him to pay another $950 in fines and a special assessment.

Trooper injured in I-5 crash in Seattle

SEATTLE — The Washington State Patrol suspects a driver was drunk when his vehicle crashed into two patrol cars stopped at an accident on Interstate 5 in Seattle, injuring a trooper.

The two Washington State Patrol cars were stopped on the shoulder of ship canal bridge early Tuesday when the vehicle hit one patrol car forcing it into the other.

The injured trooper was taken to a hospital with minor injuries. The other trooper was not hurt.

Ore. ranchers kill 500-lb black bear

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — Ranchers in south-central Oregon have legally killed a nearly 500-pound black bear after one of their heifers was killed by a bear and the giant animal was found in the family’s cattle herd.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Craig Foster says Marie Leehmann went beyond legal requirements by obtaining a kill permit before a family member shot the bear.

The Herald and News reports that field biologists say the male bear weighed 490 pounds, stood 6-foot-5 and was 13 to 15 years old. Foster said the largest bear he had previously seen weighed 345 pounds.

The kill permit was issued after it was determined that one of the Leehmanns’ yearling heifers had been killed by a bear. Two days later, on April 4, Leehmann was checking the cows when a bear ran out of the herd. Her son, Ryon, shot the bear within a quarter-mile of their home.

Foster says ranchers are legally allowed to kill bears that attack cattle.

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