Associated Press

Wildlife officials are investigating after residents reported a large number of dead songbirds in Kuna, a city about 18 miles southwest of Boise.

The Idaho Statesman reports that the dead birds show no signs of physical injury and were not sickened by plague.

Idaho Department of Fish and Game regional conservation educator Evin Oneale says the cause of death appears to be a specific type of pathogen that has yet to be determined.

Utility, Inc. / Flickr

The Caldwell Police Department plans to purchase 50 cameras for officers to wear while they are on duty.

The Idaho Press-Tribune reports Caldwell Police Chief Chris Allgood says the cameras will cost more than $80,000, including the cost of storage, software and salary for the person who will edit the video.

Allgood says the cameras will be worn by patrol officers, traffic officers, detectives and school resource officers.

biologycorner / Flickr

Idaho students scored higher taking new standardized tests compared to the national benchmarks used to measure English language arts and math proficiency.

The Idaho State Department of Education released the preliminary scores on Wednesday.

Scores were supposed to be released June 5, but a delay with the vendor pushed the release date several weeks.

This is the first year the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium examination's scores have been released. Last year, the state rolled out a practice version to work out the kinks of the new system.

Washington Fish and Game

Federal wildlife officials have rejected a petition from advocates who sought to reclassify gray wolves as a threatened species in most of the U.S.

Gray wolves across most of the Lower 48 are classified as endangered, which is more protective than a threatened designation. Advocates hoped a change to threatened would pre-empt intervention from members of Congress who want to lift federal protections altogether.

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

Conservative activists are calling for the College of Southern Idaho to remove its refugee program following concerns over the influx of Syrian refugees expected to arrive in south-central Idaho later this fall.

The Times-News reports that the group formed after college officials announced in April that 300 refugees were expected to resettle in Idaho at the start of the new federal fiscal year. Many of the refugees will possibly come from Syria, leading some community members to speculate they could be radical Muslims.

UnShuttered Soul~ Good to be busy! / Flickr

Starting July 1, Idahoans will see new laws that range from how much they pay at the gas station to giving teachers a pay bump.

Next week marks the start of a new fiscal year in Idaho. This means a $95 million transportation plan designed to help repair Idaho's crumbling bridges and roads will go into effect. For Idaho residents, vehicle registration fees are going up $21 and gas will cost 7 cents more because of higher taxes.

inl.gov

Scientists say a continued drop in underground water levels could make it harder to monitor the movement of radioactive contamination in an aquifer below an eastern Idaho nuclear facility.

Researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey in a 36-page report released Monday say the Eastern Snake River Plain Aquifer has dropped below two wells and about a dozen more could go dry due to drought.

Gay marriage, couples, lawsuit
Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

The Supreme Court has declared that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the United States.

Gay and lesbian couples already can marry in 36 states and the District of Columbia. The court's ruling on Friday means the remaining 14 states, in the South and Midwest, will have to stop enforcing their bans on same-sex marriage.

The outcome is the culmination of two decades of Supreme Court litigation over marriage, and gay rights generally.

A southwest Idaho man police say quit breathing while being restrained by officers has died.

Authorities tell the Idaho Statesman that 23-year-old Allen Hernandez of Homedale died Tuesday.

Authorities say Hernandez got into a car crash on Sunday morning and asked to use the phone at a residence a quarter-mile away.

Police say he called 911 and said he wanted to go home before hanging up and getting into a fight with three residents.

Prairie Dog, wildlife
Matthew Paulson / Flickr Creative Commons

Government attorneys are defending federal protections for Utah prairie dogs after 10 states stepped into the case in favor of a ruling that animal activists say could undermine the Endangered Species Act.

Federal lawyers are asking an appeals court to overturn an unusual ruling striking down prairie dog protections near the Utah town of Cedar City.

Residents say the animals are taking over their town, though animal activists countered Thursday that those concerns are overblown.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval is playing host to nine other Western states' governors and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to try to reach a consensus on regionwide issues such as drought.

Sandoval chairs the Western Governors' Association, which is holding its annual meeting in Lake Tahoe from Wednesday to Friday.

The governors will tackle a number of topics throughout the three days, including a newly released report detailing best practices for states to mitigate the effects of drought.

Pierce Place / Flickr Creative Commons

Mississippi's flag, and the Confederate symbols embedded within it, has come down outside Boise's City Hall.

Boise Mayor David Bieter pushed to have the symbol removed from City Hall's 50-state display following the South Carolina church massacre and ensuing debate over the Confederate flag being flown at the capitol there.

A Boise official says there are currently no plans to return Mississippi's flag to the display.

The U.S. Forest Service has approved a gold mining company's plan to reopen a 4-mile road in a central Idaho wilderness and drill core samples to find out if two of its claims are profitable enough to be mined.

The federal agency in a statement Tuesday says Payette National Forest Supervisor Keith Lannom approved American Independence Mines and Minerals Co.'s plan in the Frank Church River Of No Return Wilderness.

Nampa Library officials are asking for a 16 percent budget increase to help pay for new costs associated with their more expensive location.

The Idaho Press-Tribune reports the new facility is twice the size of the previous library and has been occupied since fiscal year 2015. It was funded and completed by the Nampa Development Corporation.

Grizzly, wildlife, grizzlies, endangered species list
Jason Bechtel / Flickr Creative Commons

Twenty-four grizzly bears have been captured so far this year in and around Yellowstone National Park as wildlife managers start another season of research toward a potential lifting of federal protections.

The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team captured the grizzlies in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks and outside the parks in Montana and Wyoming.

Teams are now starting to trap grizzlies in eastern Idaho.

The estimated grizzly population in the 19,000-square-mile Yellowstone ecosystem is 757 bears.

All four of Idaho's four-year public universities and colleges have eliminated degree programs, dissolved academic departments or reduced staff over the past year as part of a statewide effort to cut costs and prioritize college programs.

Boise State University restructured several of its academic departments, resulting in the removal of its College of Social Sciences and Public Affairs. Meanwhile, the University of Idaho discontinued 19 degree options. This included bachelor degrees in American Studies, Art Education and Medical Technology.

Evan James hymo/Wikipedia

Health officials say a third area in southwestern Idaho has rodents that are likely infected with plague.

Laurie Boston with the Southwest District Health Department says six voles and one wild mouse from the Riddle area were tested. One vole showed probable plague infection.

Riddle is 79 miles south of Mountain Home. The vole was found along Highway 51 in southern Owyhee County.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

  The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the state of Idaho over its patchwork public defense system.

The civil rights group contends that state officials have known for at least five years that high case loads, low budgets and a system that changes from county to county means that low-income defendants aren't being fairly represented in court.

The ACLU has brought similar lawsuits in several other states, reaching settlements in Washington, New York and elsewhere.

Deb Love / Trust for Public Lands

An Idaho official is trying to garner support from counties in western states to legally challenge the government's ownership of public lands.

The Lewiston Tribune reports Idaho County Commission Chairman Jim Chmelik is traveling this week with the goal of getting 100 counties to sign on to support the Western Landmark Foundation.

The foundation was formed in March with Chmelik as the registered agent. He says when 50 counties have signed up he'll start asking supporters to contribute between $3,500 and $5,000 each toward a legal fund.

inl.gov

Federal officials say they're taking public comments on a plan to ship two loads of spent nuclear fuel rods to eastern Idaho for research.

The U.S. Department of Energy in a statement says comments will be taken through July 13 on its draft of whether more environmental analysis is needed.

The 60-page document can be viewed at the agency's website under the Idaho Operations Office, Public Involvement Opportunities.

The agency has proposed sending up to 220 pounds of nuclear fuel rods to the Idaho National Laboratory.

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