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Montana news about the environment, natural resources, wildlife, climate change and more.

News briefs: Missoula Starbucks union vote; MT rabies case; Shelby invasive plant

 A Starbucks location in Havertown, Pa., Tuesday, April 26, 2022.
Matt Rourke
AP Photo
A Starbucks location in Havertown, Pa., Tuesday, April 26, 2022.

Missoula Starbucks employees to vote on unionization
Maxine Speier | Montana Public Radio

Baristas at a Missoula Starbucks will be voting Friday on whether to unionize.

The Starbucks on Brooks Street will be closed all day with its windows and security cameras covered while the store’s roughly two dozen workers cast their ballots.

If the employees vote in favor, this would be the first Starbucks in Montana to unionize. Previous efforts at a Starbucks in Butte and another location in Missoula never made it as far as a unionization election.

More than 300 Starbucks nationwide have organized in the last two years.

Officials report first MT rabies case of 2023 and remind public of rabies risks
Edward F. O'Brien | Montana Public Radio

The state’s first report of rabies has led to a countywide quarantine for some pets in southeastern Montana. State health officials are reminding Montanans about the dangers associated with rabies exposure.

A striped skunk tested positive for rabies in Powder River County earlier this month, the first report of a rabid animal in Montana this year. The state livestock department issued a 60-day countywide quarantine for dogs, cats and ferrets that are not currently vaccinated for rabies.

Health department officials say potential encounters between humans and wild animals, and the risk of potential exposure to rabies, increase during spring and summer when most people are recreating outside.

Humans and animals exposed to bats and skunks are considered at high-risk for rabies infection.

Rabies is a potentially fatal disease carried in the saliva of infected warm-blooded mammals and is usually transmitted through a bite.

Preliminary data shows over 200 Montanans last year received or were urged to seek treatment to prevent rabies infection.

Exposure can be prevented by not feeding or handling wild animals, especially bats. Dogs and cats should be vaccinated against rabies, and homes and cabins should be bat-proofed so the animals can not access living quarters.

Officials ask Shelby residents to lookout for a newly detected noxious weed
Ellis Juhlin | Montana Public Radio

Montana’s Department of Agriculture is asking residents along the Rocky Mountain Front to lookout for a newly detected noxious weed. Palmer amaranth, also called Palmer pigweed, was first detected in Shelby.

The invasive, noxious weed is a fast-growing flowering plant that rapidly builds up herbicide resistant genes and outcompetes native plants or agricultural crops.

The Department of Agriculture believes the plant in Shelby came from contaminated birdseed.

The Montana Department of Agriculture is asking anyone who thinks they may have the weed to take pictures and GPS coordinates, leave the plant in the ground so it can be identified, and contact authorities for a site visit.

Suspected Palmer amaranth plants can be reported to local county weed districts, MSU Extension or directly to the Department of Agriculture.

Maxine is the All Things Considered host and reporter for MTPR. She got her start at MTPR as a Montana News intern. She has also worked at KUNC in Northern Colorado and for Pacific Standard magazine as an editorial fellow covering wildfire and the environment.
Maxine graduated from the University of Montana with a master's degree in natural resource journalism and has a degree in creative writing from Vassar College. When she’s not behind the microphone you can find Maxine skiing, hiking with her not-so-well-behaved dogs, or lost in a book.
Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
(406) 243-4065
Ellis Juhlin is MTPR's Rocky Mountain Front reporter. Ellis previously worked as a science reporter at Utah Public Radio and a reporter at Yellowstone Public Radio. She has a Master's Degree in Ecology from Utah State University. She's an average birder and wants you to keep your cat indoors. She has two dogs, one of which is afraid of birds.
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