Community

Trego School Raised Sub Wages

The Trego School Board met on Thursday, October 14th, and approved a new payscale for substitute teachers.

Pay rate is hourly and based on education. Substitutes with a high school diploma earn 12$ an hour, while those with a Bachelor’s degree earn 14$ an hour. Substitute teachers with an elementary teaching certificate earn 16$ an hour. The board intends to consider the pay scale for teachers at the next meeting.

Folks interested in substitute teaching should contact the school clerk (clerk@tregoschool.org).

Community

In Case You Missed it

Back to the Boom Town

I’ve started cleaning up and doing a few repairs on the old service station.  It’s more a social activity than I had realized.  Some stop who knew my parents – there are fewer of those, but frequently strangers to me.  Others stop and ask what my business goal is – and I don’t really have…

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Banana Bread

What do you do with those leftover bananas that turn too brown to eat? Don’t throw them out! Simply put them in the freezer and when you’ve collected some, make this easy and delicious banana bread. I always double this recipe so I can get two loaves which take anywhere between six and eight bananas…

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Bear Attack Statistics

Flathead Bear Aware posted “In fact, more people are killed by black bears.”  The statement  brings the opportunity for statistics – and there are a couple of sources easily available for checking the statement.  From a statistical perspective, fatalities are a more solid measure than attacks.  Five years ago, I listened to a man telling…

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Mushrooms abound!

It’s been a good couple weeks for mushrooms here – puffballs, many ready to be made into mushroom steaks, some already releasing spores, seeding future years’ mushrooms. And shaggy manes, good for eating fresh, or letting sit and turn into “mushroom ink”. The first time this happened to some shaggy manes we’d collected, I was…

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The Peter Principle (in Government)

In 1969, I bought my first copy of The Peter Principle and read Laurence Peter’s words  “In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.”  He explained that “in time every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out its duties.”  Dr. Peter died 30…

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Canadian Libertarian Leader on Mandates

Tim Moen, from up near Edmonton, has led the Canadian Libertarian party for the past 7 years.  His views regarding the unacceptability of pandemic mandates are available at timmoen.net.  He doesn’t write like the late L. Neil Smith – and the article I’ve linked to is definitely beyond Biden.  Moen starts with details on the…

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Community

The Sign Will Return

Earlier this month, we reported on the removal of the Trego School reader board, and noted that the board was looking into options for a new location. Last week’s meeting included a new lease for the reader board. This time, there will be no expense to the school beyond the time and materials to put the sign back up. Posts should be going in sometime this week- Keep an eye out!

Additionally, the school board discussed the bus routes. With so many more students, the school has had to structure pick-ups and drop-offs in order to increase safety and efficiency.

Community

Why is the Sign Gone?

As you may have noticed, the Reader Board for Trego School, situated between the community hall and the post office, is no longer present. So what happened?

Some History: In June of 2016, Trego School entered into a lease agreement with Leroy Mee, allowing the school to place the Reader Board on Mr. Mee’s property. The term of the lease was ten years, at a rate of $100 per year. The school paid the full $1000 in 2016.

Earlier this year, the Montana Department of Labor Safety and Health received an anonymous complaint about the way the letters on the Reader Board were changed (the concern was that the use of vehicle and ladder presented a safety risk to school employees). The Department did not issue a violation. It’s nice to see such a concern for public safety and the health and well being of Trego School.

Recently, the estate of the late Leroy Mee provided Trego School with a check for $500 dollars in order to end the lease. Later, at their request, the school refunded twenty-five dollars and two cents to the estate for the part of this year that the Reader Board was in use.

The School is currently looking into a new placement for the Reader Board.

Patches' Pieces

Patches Pictures

The geese have returned to the pond before they begin their journey south. The turkeys, hens and toms, are roaming the road. There are still plenty of grasshoppers for the turkeys to eat.  We have had a cow elk and skunk walking the road. A surprise was the bobcat. The coyotes are hunting as a pair. The black bear and 2 cubs wandered are covering ground but doing a great job at evading the camera. Deer are common but bucks are not.  The crow are on the move. -Patches

Community, Wildlife

Montana Moves to Control Burgeoning Wolf Population

The Reintroduction of Wolves into Montana has been very successful, from only about 60 in the state in the 1990’s to estimates of over a thousand today. The State Government has recently passed a law to reduce the wolf population.

Here’s Dean Weingarten’s writing on the topic:

On 20 August, 2021, the Montana Fish & Wildlife Commission voted to follow the intent of bill SB315, passed by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Greg Gianforte, on 30 April, 2021. SB314 was passed with the goal of reducing the wolf population while maintaining a minimum of 15 breeding pairs or 300 wolves in Montana. The 15 breeding pairs or 300 wolves are mandated to keep the wolf in Montana from being re-listed as an endangered species by the Federal government.

Re-listing would remove management of the wolf population from state control. The bill passed 62 to 35 in the House, 29 to 20 in the Senate, and was signed by Montana Governor Greg Gianforte on 30 April, 2021. From ktvq.com:

After a public comment period that drew more than 26,000 comments, the Montana Fish & Wildlife Commission at its August 20 meeting adopted several changes to the 2021/2022 wolf hunting and trapping regulations.

Changes include eliminating quotas, increasing the number of wolf trapping and hunting licenses allowed for individual hunters, extending wolf trapping seasons, and the allowance of snares for trapping wolves.


Here is a summation of the rule changes, from a transcript of the Commission adoption of Wolf Harvest rules for 2021-2022.

There is no quota for the number of wolves to be harvested. A review of the harvest by the Fish & Wildlife Commission is required when 450 wolves are reported as taken. Another review will be triggered whenever an additional 50 wolves are harvested.

Wolf trappers are allowed a total of 10 wolves for the season. Wolf hunters have to buy a license for each wolf taken, with a limit of 10 licenses per hunter. There are limitations on what type of snares can be used. Spring powered snares are allowed on private land, but not on public land. Limitations on the snares used are designed to prevent the death of non-target species. Night hunting for wolves, with artificial lights and/or night vision devices, is allowed on private land.

When wolves are harvested, the harvest is required to be reported to the Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) within 24 hours. A review of the harvest will be triggered if a grizzly bear or lynx is captured in a snare or trap.

In most parts of Montana, the wolf season will start on the first Monday after Thanksgiving to March 15. FWP is given the authority to delay the season start in those districts designated as Grizzly Bear Recovery Zones, but the season cannot be delayed later than 15 December, when most bears are expected to be denned up and hibernating. Grizzly Bear Recovery Zones are a small part of the state.

From 2012 to 2019 the average annual wolf harvest in Montana was 242 wolves. In 2020, the harvest was 328 wolves. The wolf population in Montana has been estimated at 1200 wolves.

The foremost wolf expert in the field, David Mech, suggested 50% of wolves over 5-10 months old need to be harvested each year to keep a stable population. Others suggested the number could be as low as 30%. From Wolf population dynamics (state of the art) p. 184:

Mech (1970, 63-64) suggested that over 50% of the wolves over 5-10 months old must be killed each year to control a wolf population, basing his estimate on Rausch’s (1967) age structure data on over 4,000 harvested Alaskan wolves. Because these wolves were killed in fall and winter, the 50% kill figure would have been in addition to natural mortality from birth to 5-10 months of age. Keith (1983) reevaluated the proposed 50% kill figure by assembling data from several field studies. He concluded that the figure should be less than 30%, including a precautionary hedge. However, the data he used (Keith 1983, table 8) included populations that may have been stationary when 41% were taken, and declining populations with a 58%-70% take. These data do not conflict with the 50% figure.


The Commission adopted the changes on a 3 to 2 vote. Elections have consequences. From mtpr.org:

Pat Byorth voted against the proposal. Byorth is the only commissioner who is a holdover appointee from former Gov. Steve Bullock; the rest of the commission was appointed by Gov. Greg Gianforte. Byorth said the new measures run at odds to long-established hunting ethics and fair chase in Montana.


If the commission is to follow the law, they need to reduce the wolf population. A harvest of 450 wolves would be a step in the right direction. To reach a harvest of 450 wolves, the commission loosened some of the many restrictions on wolf hunting and trapping.

Whether the removal of those restrictions will be enough to reach the minimum goal of 450 wolves harvested will become known in the 2021-22 wolf season.

The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board reached a similar conclusion to the Montana Fish & Wildlife Commission in 2021. The Wisconsin Board increased the wolf harvest goal in to 300, in an attempt to reduce the burgeoning number of wolves in the state.

Grey wolves migrated from northern Alaska to what is now Canada, the lower 48 states, and South America about 10,000 to 13,000 years ago. The migration of man to the same area may have happened that late. There are persistent archeological indications man may have preceded the wolf by thousands of years.

As long as the grey wolf has existed in most of Alaska, Canada, the lower 48 states and South America, they have been in competition with man for prey. Before the grey wolf became established, the dire wolf, the sabre toothed tiger, and the short faced bear became extinct. Many think man was the cause of that extinction.

©2021 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included. http://gunwatch.blogspot.com/2021/09/montana-moves-to-control-burgeoning.html

Community

School Started on the First

It’s that time of the year again. Classes at Trego School started on Wednesday, September 1st. The Back to School BBQ will be held on Friday, September 10th.

School enrollment at the start of the school year is nearing 30 students. With a fourth classroom teacher hired, class size averages about 7 students per class (7.25 to be more precise).

The district was able to use part of the district’s ESSR (covid relief funds) to fund the hiring of that fourth teacher, a decision made to help keep class sizes small. While classrooms are still multi-grade, most classrooms hold only two grades.

The official count for this year’s enrollment isn’t actually in- for funding purposes, the count happens only twice a year. The first is in October. If enrollment reaches thirty, the amount of funding the school receives will increase.

Looking at the broader trend, we last discussed Trego School enrollment back in January.

Data as of January 2021

This year’s start of 29 is a bit lower than January’s 31. Not a steep decline, but the trend merits watching.

Community, Patches' Pieces, Wildlife

Patches Pieces

Eventually, all critters travel the driveway. Sometimes the game cam even catches them. A daytime appearance of the coyote on the driveway is unusual.  He is traveling the driveway most nights. All sorts of deer use the pond and driveway. I am not sure why it always seems to surprise me that skunks climb stairs.  The game cam caught one on the bridge step. For the last several days a blue heron has been hunting frogs in the pond.  So far no bear sightings on the game cam. But as the apples ripen, I expect we will see them around.

Community

County Fair

This year’s fair was fun, with activities for young and old alike. Vendors were present, and the food (sold by many local organizations and churches) was excellent. Plenty of raffle tickets were sold (not all for firearms), and folks seemed to be in good spirits.

The exhibits were neat, and some of the produce very impressive. The sunflowers were especially remarkable, with substantial height, thick stems, and enormous heads. Neat wood working and a creative chandelier of hummingbird feeders. The cakes and sundry baked goods in the youth section were quite impressive as well. We have some talented decorators!

As remarkable as the exhibits was the number of names that weren’t present. Perhaps we’ve simply gotten out of the habit of putting things into the fair, but while the talent displayed was impressive, much of our region’s talent was missing. I’d like for next year’s fair to feature more from the many gifted gardeners, crafters, and creatives we have in the community.

Community

Have You Two Been Vaccinated?

In the past couple of weeks, Renata and I have been asked “Have you been vaccinated?” by several different people.  Now I don’t mind saying yes – but I’m not sure that the question really is what it sounds like.  I think the question is “Can we visit your place with certainty that we won’t catch covid?”  Perhaps the question is “Have you been immunized?” 

Vaccinated and immune have two different meanings.  The history of smallpox vaccination shows the differences over a thousand-year timeline.  The first vaccinations recorded are in China, after 1000 CE.  They’d grind up the scabs from someone with smallpox, and blow the dust into your nostrils – along with something like a 2% mortality rate.  Since the death rate from smallpox was about 30%, it seemed like a decent risk.  This practice was variolation, not vaccination.

This development was state of the art until Jennings developed vaccination about 800 years later.   You remember, he took matter from the sores on a cow that had cowpox and injected it into people.  The latin word for cow – vacca – became the root of the word “vaccination.”  Since cowpox wasn’t smallpox, it took the risk of death down to about zero – but the minimal controls of the early 19th century kept the effectiveness down.  Jennings methodology didn’t guarantee the inoculation actually included cowpox.   Even as smallpox was eradicated, the vaccine was only 95% effective – but a 95% effective vaccine wiped out smallpox. 

Life is a game of percentages – the only certainty is death . . . but we don’t know when.  When my colon cancer was diagnosed in May, 2009, the prediction was June, 2012.  The prediction changed when Rick Holm convinced his colleagues to humor me and look at the 2002 chest X-rays.  Just old scars, no new metastasis.  It changed the diagnosis from stage 4 to early stage 3.  All from looking at one 7 year-old X-ray. 

CDC says my two doses of Pfizer should be 84% effective.  Israel’s health ministry rates it at 39%.   Personally, even 39% effective is worth getting the vaccine – I have made a point of getting flu shots that were no more effective.  But the answer to “Have you been vaccinated?” isn’t really a simple yes or no if the question is actually “Have you been immunized?”

I think my friends are happier visiting with the knowledge I’ve been vaccinated, and not knowing the percentage effectiveness.  Vaccinated generally translates to less chance of getting sick – but few vaccines are 100% effective.  The recent infectiousness of this last covid outbreak has demonstrated that vaccination is not synonymous with immunization.