Wolf tag auction

would raise money

BOISE (AP) -- State fish and game officials are considering a plan to issue special wolf hunting tags that would be auctioned to raise money for conservation projects and wolf management.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission was expected to vote on the measure this week.

The plan is similar in some ways to special tags the state makes available for bighorn sheep, which are auctioned publicly through a nonprofit organization to raise money for bighorn sheep habitat.

Agency spokesman Niels Nokkentved said the tags considered for public auction are special because they were among the first printed, with tag numbers starting at 001. The tags made available to hunters last month started with the number 101.

Idaho's public wolf hunt began earlier this month and expanded Tuesday, Sept. 15, to include two more hunting zones.

Kennel owners

win land-use battle

LEWISTON (AP) -- A federal judge has ruled that dogs can be defined as livestock and that a kennel business can continue to operate on land where federal Wild and Scenic River rules apply.

The ruling filed by U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge settles a 10-year-old dispute and deals a legal blow to the U.S. Forest Service.

The agency argued that the Wild River Kennels, built along the Clearwater River, could not operate because dogs in commercial kennels don't qualify as livestock.

But the kennel property is also subject to an easement under the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers Act that allows "livestock farming."

Lodge initially sided with the government in 2005, but an appeals court overturned his decision.

The Lewiston Tribune reports that Lodge has now ruled that dogs kenneled for profit can be considered livestock.

Rancher fined $2K

for killing grizzly

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) -- A 34-year-old Cut Bank rancher has agreed to pay a $2,000 fine for illegally shooting and killing a grizzly bear on the Blackfoot Indian Reservation.

Jim Seewald said he was checking on his cattle in May 2008 east of the Port of Del Bonita near the Canadian border when he saw the bear feeding on a cow carcass.

Seewald, who called the shooting "straight up self-defense," shot the bear with a .22-caliber rifle and then returned to kill it with a larger-caliber rifle.

He reported the shooting to fish and game authorities on the reservation the next morning.

Special Agent Brian Lakes of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said an investigation determined that the rancher was not in imminent danger and that the bear did not kill the cow.

Mont. growers see big beet harvest

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) -- Sugar beet growers in Montana say they're having a sweet season.

Profits are at a 28-year high -- with prices nearing $50 a ton -- thanks in part to a world sugar shortage. Mike Hoffer with Western Sugar Cooperative said farmers in the Billings area are seeing a bumper crop, with an average yield of 31 tons per acre.

Not all farmers in the Western Sugar Cooperative are faring so well.

Hoffer said more than 60 percent of the farmers in Colorado and Nebraska had crops damaged by hail.

The world sugar shortage has been driven by drought in India and cane sugar ethanol production in Brazil.

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