Meet Yellowstone’s ‘fatalistic’ butterfly
Yellowstone National Park is awesome for a lot of reasons.
One that you might not have heard about: Butterflies.
Along with bison and wolves, Yellowstone is home to 134 known species of the beautiful bug. George Bumann is the park’s unofficial butterfly expert who leads visitors on butterfly counts yearly and educational outings to help more people learn about the bounty of butteflies in Yellowstone.
We featured Bumman in our Sept/Oct 2014 issue.
“In Yellowstone, people get attached to those mega animals: the elk, bears and wolves,” Bumann said. “But what’s really amazing about this place is the tie between geology, plants and animals as they relate to each other; it’s a very tight-knit system.”
All the butterflies are important to the park. But what is Bumman’s favorite Yellowstone butterfly?
It’s Hayden’s ringlet. A butterfly with a “fatalistic” flying pattern and “eyes” on its wings. Why is it Bumann’s favorite? Click here to find out.
Stevensville’s Founders Day celebrates Montana’s beginnings
The St. Mary’s Missions is the place where Montana began. That notable marker was celebrated fully last weekend in Stevensville.
Here’s the full story from Dillon:
A special event at St. Mary’s Mission in Stevensville celebrated the history of the place where Montana began.
The Founders Day celebration, which includes reenactments of the historic start to the town, has been an annual event at the end of September in Stevensville since 2009.
Colleen Meyer, executive director of the nonprofit Historic St. Mary’s Mission, said the mission’s roots started with Iroquois tribal members, who had come to the region with the Hudson’s Bay Company, integrating and intermarrying with the Salish people in the area.
“They also brought and spread the ideas and traditions of Christianity with the local tribe, which were similar to many of the local Native Americans own traditions, like having one wife and the burying of the dead,” she said.
The Salish were intrigued and wanted the Jesuit priests, who they called the blackrobes after the garb they wore, to come and teach them in person. Meyer said four trips were made to St. Louis before missionaries were brought back to the area, led by Pierre DeSmet, who founded the mission on Sept. 24, 1841, marking the first permanent settlement in what would eventually become Montana. DeSmet was represented in the reenactment by Mark Brown.
“All of us involved have struggled and suffered and some of your tribesmen have died to make this happen,” he said.
The village that was built around the mission area was called St. Mary’s, before later becoming known as Fort Owen and then Stevensville. Meyer said the current chapel that sits at the mission is actually the fourth one built, with construction starting in 1866.
Dale Burk wrote the reenactment and acted as the narrator. He said the Founders Day celebration was commemorating four important events in Montana history. The first was the 173rd anniversary of the St. Mary’s Mission and the founding of the community that would become Stevensville. The second was the sale of the mission grounds and buildings to John Owen on Nov. 5, 1850.
This year is also the 150th anniversary of the start of the Montana Territory, and the time when the town of Stevensville was platted.
“Like most achievements of mankind, it came to be because somebody wanted it to happen and other people helped to make it happen,” Burk said.
For the reenactment, the role of Owen was played by Mike Yalon. He said this is his third year taking part in the event, and that he did his own research on Owen leading up to playing the role, including using some of Owen’s own writing.
“The mission actually has John Owen’s journals I was able to read through,” he said.
One of the day’s reenactments included Owen’s purchase of the missionary land and buildings. Nine years after founding the mission, the blackrobe missionaries were forced to leave because of trouble with the Salish’s rival Blackfoot tribe. Owen, a former Army sutler, bought the land for $250, the first written bill of sale in the region.
“He was highly respected by the Native Americans, and became the de facto Indian agent for the region,” Yalon said.
Although he was never in the military, Owen adopted the title of major when he opened a trading post named after himself on the former mission’s property. The missionaries would return and reopen St. Mary’s 16 years later.
Rev. Michael Drury, who played Father Anthony Ravalli in the reenactment on Sunday, played the role of overseeing the sale to Owen. Drury also carved the cross used in the reenactment of the founding of the mission.
The character of Salish Chief Victor, who had been a friend of both Ravalli and Owen, said he hoped that everyone would one day soon be able to return to the region. He was played by Victor Charlo, a descendent of both Chief Victor and Chief Charlo.
As part of the reenactment, Yalon, as Owen, thanked the two missionaries for the work they had done “that brought civilization to an otherwise wild land.”
The Yellowstone supervolcano’s seismic threat
The supervolcano under Yellowstone National Park was in the news quite a bit last spring. New findings coupled with a string of small earthquakes fueled some wild rumors of its impending explosion.
But what really is the risk?
Writer Jack Ballard explored that question in our feature in the Sept/Oct issue. Scientists inside the park of been studying the volcano for decades. And, as Jack found out, better technology means better knowledge about the beast.
They say it’s unlikely the volcano will erupt anytime. More likely: Earthquakes.
In a 2009 paper in the Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, Smith and a team researchers concluded that the Yellowstone-Teton region represents the area of greatest seismic hazard in the western United States. The project also analyzed earthquake risk in relation to the various fault lines radiating from the caldera of Yellowstone’s most recent, albeit very ancient, super-volcano. Of those, the team concluded major quake activity was most likely to occur on the Teton Fault which extends from the southern boundary of Yellowstone National Park into the Jackson Hole Valley in Wyoming.
The USGS has a ton of information about the likelihood of any major disaster caused by the supervolcano. The Q&A is particularly interesting.
Like Jack found out from the scientists who know the supervolcano best, it’s likely that the more you know, the less you’ll have to fear.
Slideshow: The best views in Montana
What’s your favorite Montana view?
Our latest slideshow is the result of our most recent fan Facebook question, which our friends answered with both stories and photos of their favorite Big Sky views.
Included are views of the Beartooths and Pintlers and Missoula from the “M” trail.
A few other nominations from our Facebook friends: The first glimpse of the Sweet Grass Hills over the never-ending fields between Conrad and Shelby. Top of Polson Hill heading north on Highway 93.
So, what’s your favorite? Let us know on Facebook at fb.com/montanamagazine. Or send us your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dance of the Glacier County Honey bees
The folks at Glacier County Honey, as you might imagine, know a lot about bees.
Afterall, the bees make the business. Our feature on the up-and-coming business that is flourishing near the northern Montana town of Babb showed just how much knowledge it takes to keep happy bees that produce their sweet honey.
The bees are transported from Montana to California and back again each year to ensure they’re happy.
When it comes time to make honey, millions of bees buzz through fields in Babb collecting pollen to bring back to the hives. In fact, when they find a good source, worker bees do a dance to show other workers where to find it.
Read the full story in our Sept/Oct issue.
In the meantime, here’s a little more about the Glacier County Honey bees (including more about the dance of the honey bees) courtesy of owners Courtney and Greg Fullerton.
What kind of bees do you keep at Glacier County Honey?
What is the lifespan of a bee?
Lifespan of a bee depends on the time of year – in summer, they’re working so hard some literally fly their wings off, and can expect to live about 3 weeks. But once the queen shuts down production in preparation for winter, they’ll live through the winter.
How many bees help make Glacier County Honey?
In the summer months, about 90 million bees at any given time help make Glacier County (and Chief Mountain) honey.
What is your favorite fact about bees that many people don’t know?
Bees communicate with each other by dancing.
There are lots of different types of dances, but our favorite is the Waggle Dance – when a worker bee finds a good nectar source, like a field of alfalfa, she comes back to the hive and does a dance, using the sun as a compass, and tells the other bees where to find this nectar. All worker bees are female. The males are really only around for mating purposes, they don’t even have a stinger, and when they become a burden to the hive – in the winter – the workers kick them out of the hive to die.
Also, bees don’t gather honey, bees make honey. They bring nectar back to the hive in a special honey stomach (they also bring back pollen in “chaps” or pockets on their legs) and they add some special enzymes and fan the nectar down to make honey in the honeycomb that they build in their hive (they have wax secreting glands on their backs).
Bees make honey to eat honey (that’s what they live on), but given the right amount of space and forage and weather, they’ll make more than they could ever need to survive, hence, the possibility of commercial beekeeping.
Rescued mountain lion brothers headed to Ohio
Powell, Ohio, is preparing to welcome two Montana natives to its zoo.
Two rescued mountain lion kittens that were pulled from a wildfire zone several weeks ago are set to be delivered to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium on Wednesday.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Park officials say it’s the best option for the brothers, according to a story by the Helena Independent Record’s Alexander Deedy.
Just 12 to 14 days old when they arrived at the Montana Wildlife Center in Helena, the pair didn’t have any teeth and couldn’t really use their eyes. Now four weeks old, they’ve doubled in size and are starting to exhibit predator traits.
Rhodin said they’ve started to pounce, and one will drag around a blanket he plays with.
Besides inhaling smoke and having water and fire retardant dropped on them, the kittens did not suffer any physical harm during the fire, she said.
The kittens now have clear lungs, bright blue eyes and are perfectly healthy. Rhodin has been feeding them a formula similar to milk from a mother mountain lion.
Throughout the process, FWP has been fielding interest from zoos accredited by the American Zoos Association that wanted to provide a home for the cats.
“If you try to release them before they’re 3 years old, they probably won’t survive,” Rhodin said.
The leading cause of mortality among young mountain lions is getting killed by older males, so without a mother, the two kittens would have no chance of survival in the wild.
Wildland firefighters battling a blaze near Florence rescued the kittens after hearing their cries from underneath a log. The blackened kittens were taken to a rehabilitation center in Helena where they recovered.
Deedy wrote: Once in Ohio, the kittens will be kept together while young, but Rhodin said it is up to the zoo whether to put them in separate exhibits when they are older. She did say she thinks the Columbus Zoo has plans to use the mountain lions as part of its conservation education program.
“There’s really no better place for them to end up,” Tom Palmer said.
Hay! This is awesome: The Montana Bale Trail slideshow
The hay in central Montana got a makeover last weekend during the annual Montana Bale Trail What the Hay contest. Teams from Hobson to Utica to Windham to Great Falls to Lewistown put their hay sculpting skills to work to create the works of art that were displayed along the highway.
And, hay, it was amazing.
Our art director Megan Richter spent some time in her hometown of Lewistown last weekend and got out on the hay trail to check out What the Hay.
Ivory ban means Glasgow celebration will be without bagpipers
The Glasgow Scotties won’t have bagpipes at their homecoming celebration this year. The Canadian musicians who usually play the Glasgow Homecoming Weekend Festival are too worried their instruments will be confiscated by border patrol officials.
Billings Gazette reporter Tom Lutey’s story says that a U.S. ban on imported ivory – which is included on the tips of some bagpipes – means the instruments can’t cross the border.
That means the Saskatoon Police Pipes and Drums are staying home this year.
The band’s concern stems from U.S. border agents seizing bagpipes from two New Hampshire teenagers earlier this summer as they attempted to return home from a music competition in Canada. The United States has an import ban on ivory harvested after 1976, which is supposed to target poachers. People who cannot prove the age of their ivory also risk having it taken away.
According to Lutey’s story, the missing musicians will mean more than music is missing from the festival.
The Saskatoon Police Pipe and Drums didn’t just bang out a couple tunes, they brought the party. From Friday through Saturday, the group performed at the homecoming parade and the tailgate of the Glasgow Scotties football game. They played at three retirement homes and various businesses. And they went from bar to bar, banging on the drums, droning on the pipes and dancing their kilts off.
Bar patrons would run ahead from performance to performance trying to get a good seat for the next show, Olk said. No area band has shown the stamina for so many performances in Glasgow.
Off the hook for the Sept. 12 weekend celebration, the Saskatoon Police Pipes and Drums leader Ken Morton was elk hunting and couldn’t be reached for comment.
Fellow Canadian bagpiper Iain MacDonald said it has become increasingly difficult for pipe and drum bands to perform in the United States. MacDonald’s Regina Pipe Band used to play in Glendive.
Read more here.