- Associated Press - Sunday, June 8, 2014
Moose researchers seek to avert abandonments

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Wildlife biologists trying to find answers about northeastern Minnesota’s declining moose population were dismayed at how many mothers would abandon their calves shortly after researchers attached GPS tracking collars to the newborns. They’re now cautiously hopeful that they’ve found a solution.

Department of Natural Resources researchers started attaching GPS collars to adult moose early last year. The collars gave them regular updates that made it possible to tell when the females were about to give birth. Biologists would give the mother and its calf or twins at least 36 to 48 hours to bond, then swoop in by helicopter to collar the calves and perform health checks. That approach has worked well in Alaska and elsewhere.

But in Minnesota, seven of 31 mothers either never returned or came back but didn’t stay long last spring. So the head of the DNR’s moose calf mortality project, Glenn DelGiudice, and his team consulted specialists around the world.

“The advice we got was lose the helicopter,” DelGiudice said Friday from his field station near Ely.

The abandonments came as a surprise to moose researchers, said Ron Moen of the Natural Resources Research Institute at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

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Treatment facility fined after baby’s death

SAUK RAPIDS, Minn. (AP) - The state has fined a Sauk Rapids residential treatment facility $1,000 and ordered its license to be placed on conditional status after a baby died there in 2011.

In an order issued last month, the Minnesota Department of Human Services found that Journey Home was responsible for neglect of the mother and her infant, who died in an unsafe sleeping location and position in October 2011.

The state launched a critical review of the home for mothers recovering from chemical dependency after a different baby drowned in September 2013, according to the St. Cloud Times (https://on.sctimes.com/1oKZSzbhttps://on.sctimes.com/1oKZSzb ). DHS did not find any maltreatment in the drowning.

DHS issued a $1,000 fine and ordered its license to be placed on conditional status for two years. Journey Home is operated by CentraCare Health, which has appealed.

In a statement, CentraCare spokeswoman Jeanine Nistler said: “Journey Home and all CentraCare Health services regularly review our policies and procedures to ensure that we are providing the best possible care to our patients and ensuring the safety of patients and visitors.”

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Most districts ready for teacher evaluations

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Most of Minnesota’s school districts are ready to implement new teacher evaluations this fall, but some of the 333 districts are still developing plans.

“Roughly three-fourths of our school districts have plans ready to go,” Denise Specht, president of the state teachers union Education Minnesota, told Minnesota Public Radio News (https://bit.ly/1hvjcSahttps://bit.ly/1hvjcSa ).

The rest have work to do.

“School districts are right now ‘MacGyvering’ what they’ve got to fit the law,” she said.

In 2011, lawmakers revamped Minnesota’s teacher evaluation law. It requires formal evaluations for new teachers each year for three years. They’ll also meet regularly with veteran teachers.

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Political parties fight to manipulate voting times

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Election Day is approaching, and you’ve made up your mind. There’s no need to wait. In many states, you now can vote early.

Yet what’s convenient to you is increasingly an opportunity for political gamesmanship to the candidates on the ballot.

In key swing states, Democrats and Republicans are battling this year to gain even the slightest electoral advantages by tinkering with the times, dates and places where people can vote early. Their sights are set not only on this year’s gubernatorial and congressional campaigns, but on an even bigger prize: control of the White House after the 2016 elections.

Republican-controlled legislatures in Ohio, Missouri, North Carolina and Wisconsin all have taken recent steps to curtail early voting by limiting the days on which it’s available.

Meanwhile, Democratic-led legislatures have passed measures expanding early voting or instant registration in Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts and Minnesota. And Democratic activists in Missouri are backing an initiative petition that could create one of the nation’s most expansive early voting systems.

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