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News in Brief

LA JUNTA (AP) – A former president of the La Junta Chamber of Commerce has been charged with making methamphetamines.Eric Gobin, 37, whose family owns a chain of southern Colorado office supply stores, appeared in Otero County Court on Friday. He was released on $5,000 bond.Police said they found a working meth lab in his home on Feb. 14. He will appear in court again April 18.

BILLINGS (AP) – This winter has been tough on some bison and elk in the higher elevations of Yellowstone National Park, researchers say.Slabs of hardened snow and ice have kept food out of reach, leaving the animals to starve to death or become easy pickings for wolves, said Doug Smith, head of the National Park Service’s Yellowstone Wolf Project.Smith said he hasn’t seen so many winter-killed elk and bison since 1996-97, when severe weather killed 300 to 400 bison and, in the northern part of Yellowstone, more than 500 elk.Swings in winter conditions are driving this year’s situation, he said. Cold snaps and snowstorms followed by warm periods have crystallized snow, making it more difficult for bison and elk to penetrate as they forage for food.”It basically turned to concrete,” Smith said.In those areas, weakened elk and bison have become easy meals for wolves, according to researchers conducting their annual survey of Yellowstone’s packs. Two wolf packs have been eating nothing but bison for the last two and a half months in the park’s interior, Smith said, which is rare because bison tend to be tough and dangerous prey.P.J. White, a biologist for Yellowstone, said elk in lower elevations have fared better. And while the number of elk killed during the winter is up over previous years, “it’s nothing close to 1997,” he said.Tom Lemke, a biologist for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, flew over some of the elk herds on Wednesday. While numbers haven’t been tallied yet, he said he wasn’t alarmed by what he saw.”I would say there may be a few more (winter-killed carcasses) but I don’t think it’s anything significant,” Lemke said.Typically, elk that linger in higher elevations tend to be bulls, he said, and wolves have a knack for finding elk in tough environments.

PUEBLO (AP) – Two more men have filed lawsuits alleging they were sexually abused by a teacher while at a now-closed Roman Catholic high school, increasing the number of suits with similar allegations to 17.The most recent lawsuits were filed in Pueblo District Court on Friday against the Catholic Diocese of Pueblo and the Marianist Province of the United States. They both allege that former Brother William Mueller molested students at Roncalli High School and some staff and administrators were aware of the abuse.All 17 lawsuits accuse the diocese and the Marianist order of negligence for allowing Mueller to work with children. Both organizations have denied the accusations.The men were identified in court documents as John Doe No. 12 and No. 13. One man is 51 years old and attended Roncalli between fall 1969 and spring 1971, when the school closed.According to the suit, the man claims Mueller, who was his band teacher, allegedly asked him to participate in a psychological experiment, used an ether-soaked rag to subdue him and sexually assaulted him.John Doe No. 12 said in the lawsuit that he told another Marianist priest at the school about the abuse, but no actions were taken.The other plaintiff, now 53, graduated from Roncalli in 1970. His lawsuit alleges multiple occasions of abuse that eventually drew the attention of school administrators. The lawsuit also said no actions were taken.


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