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Missoulian editorial: Civil settlement sends important message to trappers
Missoulian editorial

Missoulian editorial: Civil settlement sends important message to trappers

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Commiserative huckleberries to the Missoula couple awarded a settlement of more than $5,000 after their young dog, Betsy, was killed by a conibear trap set along a popular walking trail. Two trappers were cited in December 2019 for trapping within city limits, in violation of city and state code. While the monetary award won’t lessen the loss of their beloved pet, it does help send an important message to any others thinking of placing dangerous devices on public lands that such carelessness will not go unpunished.

Chilled chokecherries to the recent racist comments recorded by a white student at Big Sky High School and widely shared via social media, but warm huckleberries to the uplifting response from more than 100 Missoula County Public Schools students who rallied to show support for members of targeted communities and pressure school administrators to do more to address hate and discrimination in the district. The walkout, which began with 15 minutes of silence in recognition of recent hate crimes, helped draw attention to the “multiple reports of anti-LGBTQ, anti-Native or anti-Indigenous or anti-Black Lives Matter” incidents.

A memorial adorned with huckleberries in honor of Stan Stephen’s long life of public service. Stephens, a former governor of Montana who died earlier this month at the age of 91, leaves behind a striking legacy in public service and in broadcasting. He served with the U.S. Armed Forces Broadcast Network during the Korean War, then developed award-winning radio editorials as co-owner of a station in Havre. He was elected by Havre voters to represent them in the Montana Senate in 1969, then re-elected, eventually serving as majority leader and Senate president over the course of 16 years in the state Senate. He was elected governor in 1988, becoming the first Republican to hold the seat in 20 years, and served one term, opting not to run again due to health problems.

A high-elevation lake of huckleberries to the momentous project to determine the future of 10 dams located deep in the Rattlesnake Wilderness. The structures, all built between 1911 and 1923, are now owned by the city of Missoula, which is asking for public input on the dams as they undergo review this spring and summer. City staff hosted an initial public forum Wednesday evening with private engineers and experts from Trout Unlimited and the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and posted maps and other information online at, where members of the community could also offer comments. Next, Engage Missoula will open a public opinion survey to collect additional public feedback.

Stabilized huckleberries to the Legislature’s approval of $17 million in federal funding for the Montana Emergency Rental Assistance program, which will help those struggling with reduced incomes due to the pandemic. To qualify for the program, households must make less than 80% of their area’s median income; in Missoula County, a family of four would qualify if their annual income was less than $60,150. The assistance helps cover rent payments, utilities including gas and electricity, and $50 per month for internet. More information is online at

This editorial represents the views of the Missoulian Editorial Board: Publisher Jim Strauss, Executive Editor Jim Van Nostrand and Opinion Editor Tyler Christensen. 

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