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Public meeting to discuss scientific report

A public meeting is planned in Missoula on June 23 to discuss a scientific report addressing observations of deformed deer and other animals in the Bitterroot Valley by a Stevensville wildlife rehabilitator.

The meeting is tentatively scheduled from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Missoula Public Library, according to Sharon Browder, operations specialist for the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge, which commissioned the report.

The scientific study was prepared by Anne Fairbrother, a veterinarian and toxicology specialist, who works for a private environmental consulting company in Corvallis, Ore.

A group of concerned citizens and government agency officials met in 1998 to discuss reports by Stevensville wildlife rehabilitator Judy Hoy of deformities in white-tailed deer in the Bitterroot Valley. Although there was no agreement whether the deformities were within the normal range of variation in deer populations, Browder said, the group decided to consult a toxicologist to assess the likelihood that agricultural pesticides could be the cause.

The follow-up meeting in June is planned to involve more people than the original group, she said.

"We welcome new input and information," Browder said, "particularly from those who may have expertise in this area."

Prior to the June 23 meeting, she said, organizers are requesting specific questions for Fairbrother about her report, and information and comments about Hoy's observations. Answers from Fairbrother, and public comments, will be addressed at the meeting.

Comments should be sent by May 5 to Bitterroot Valley Deer, c/o Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 247, Stevensville, MT 59870.

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