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Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Montana youth elk hunt an embarrassment to the sport

HUNTING — A mess of elk were slaughtered or wounded in a youth elk hunt that was marred by greedy adults last week in the Bitterroot Valley south of Missoula

The story by the Ravali Republic is among the saddest reports on sport hunting I've read all year.  

Click “continue reading” and check it out if you want to ruin your day.

Forest Service rejects Bitterroot ski resort

PUBLIC LANDS — For the second time in seven years, the U.S. Forest Service has rejected a proposal by Tom Maclay to build a destination ski resort on Lolo Peak.

Read the story in the Ravalli Republic.

Bitterroot elk numbers up, despite wolves, cougars

HUNTING — An ambitious elk study in the East Fork of the Bitterroot River has documented an increase in elk calf survival.  Wolves have not been a significant factor this year, although mountain lions have taken a toll on the elk.

Craig Jourdonnais of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks says he counted 56 elk calves per 100 cows during an aerial flight in July.

He said1976 was the last time elk calf numbers were that high.

The ratio between elk calves and cows at one point in recent years dropped into the teens.

An elk study has found that 17 elk calves have died since June, and of those six were killed by mountain lions and four by black bears. Two deaths were human related and it’s unclear how the other five died.

While biologists are encouraged, they warn there's a reason the study runs for three years.

“It was a screwy winter with not a lot of snow,” Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks research technician Ben Jimenez said in a story by the Ravalli Republic. “That’s why we do these studies for three years. … Who knows? Maybe this winter we’ll see a huge number of wolf kills.”

A cold-Hearted greeting for hikers in the Bitterroots

HIKING — The snow clogging the high country isn't stopping hikers wearing boots and gaiters from trekking into some “cool” places.

Bob Clark of Missoula joined friends on Saturday for a hike into Heart Lake, a backcountry destination in the Great Burn area.

The popular hike-in lake is south of I-90 from Superior, Mont. The trailhead is off the Trout Creek Road just before the road heads up the steep section to Hoodoo Pass.

The photo at left shows the snow still covering the pack bridge.

At top is the view up Heart Lake with the Idaho-Montana border above.

Clark is a Sierra Club advocate for the proposed Great Burn Wilderness.  He's a knowlegeable source.