Articles written by Johnathan Hettinger

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  • Montana enters phase two of reopening plan

    Johnathan Hettinger, Montana Free Press|May 28, 2020

    Montana will lift its 14-day quarantine for out-of-state travelers as the state transitions to phase two of the Reopening the Big Sky plan on June 1, Gov. Steve Bullock announced Tuesday. Lifting the quarantine will coincide with a likely June 1 opening of Montana’s gates to Yellowstone National Park in West Yellowstone, Gardiner and Cooke City, Bullock said. Yellowstone’s Wyoming gates opened to travelers on Monday, May 18. The lifting of the quarantine was not initially considered part of phase two but Bullock said he decided to lift the qua...

  • Wildlife Services to cut back killings pending environmental review

    Johnathan Hettinger, Montana Free Press|May 21, 2020

    Wildlife Services, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that annually kills thousands of wild animals across Montana, will at least temporarily cut back on how and where it kills animals such as bears, wolves and coyotes in the state under a settlement reached Thursday with WildEarth Guardians. The settlement applies to wildlife in protected areas like Wilderness Areas and National Wildlife Refuges, and also halts the use of sodium cyanide bombs on public land and private land in 41...

  • Montana tourism offers a rain check, surveys the damage, looks to brighter days

    Johnathan Hettinger, Montana Free Press|May 7, 2020

    Even as Governor Steve Bullock announced April 22 that Montana will begin a phased reopening of its economy, uncertainty remains in the tourism industry, one of the state's largest economic sectors. And at least one Montana tourism agency is actively discouraging visitation. The phased reopening will allow some outdoor recreation businesses, like guiding, to return to work, as long as they can maintain social distancing recommendations. However, all non-essential travelers coming to Montana, res...

  • Glacier National Park closes over coronavirus concerns

    Johnathan Hettinger, Montana Free Press|Apr 2, 2020

    Glacier National Park announced it will temporarily close, as of 5 p.m. Friday, March 27 in coordination with the state of Montana, Flathead County, Glacier County and the Blackfeet Tribe. "We're closed until we all feel that it is safe to reopen," Superintendent Jeff Mow said in an interview with Montana Free Press as the park closed. Local and state health officials had raised health concerns about visitors traveling to the park from across the country and potentially transporting COVID-19,...

  • Chronic wasting disease creating 'new reality' in Montana

    Johnathan Hettinger, Montana Free Press|Feb 13, 2020

    The prevalence of chronic wasting disease in Montana has created "a new reality" for hunters and wildlife managers, just two years after it was first detected in the state. An extensive program of testing deer, elk and moose harvested across Montana from April 1, 2019, to Jan. 29, 2020, turned up 142 positives from Libby to the Hi-Line to the Ruby Valley to southeastern Montana, the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks said. The positives included 86 white-tailed deer, 53 mule deer,...