Yesterdays: Don’t disturb the eagles

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Skiing a frozen Lake McDonald, March, 1949. From left are Jackie Washburn, Billy Price, Jerry Salansky and Billie Mackin.

70 years ago

March 25, 1949

Bad winters had trimmed Glacier Park’s elk herd. The park estimated the elk herd was about 2,755 animals, as opposed to 3.293 animals in 1947. Whitetail deer were down from about 1,200 to 810, while mule deer went up slightly from 768 to 858, while moose dropped from about 170 to 122. Of the elk numbers, 1,600 were actually counted by rangers using binoculars or the naked eye. The Middle Fork had the best elk numbers.

60 years ago

March 27, 1959

Continental Oil was asking the Flathead National Forest for permits to do seismographic testing up the North Fork to search for oil in the Whale, Red Meadow and Yakinikak drainages. The region had a history of oil exploration. At Kintla Lake, there was a pipe that flowed natural gas from a well in 1908. To the north, a gas well at Sage Creek in 1952 had a flow rate of 1.35 million cubic feet per second. Sage Creek is just north of the border in Canada. A classified ad listed “eating potatoes” for $1.50 per 100 pounds.

50 years ago

March 28, 1969

Glacier Park reported that would further emphasize its “pack it in, pack it out” policy for garbage to reduce conflicts with bears. The park changed its policies on garbage a couple of years prior after the infamous “Night of the Grizzlies” where two food-conditioned bears killed two women on the same night at two different camps. Glacier had an estimated 160 to 185 grizzlies at the time.

40 years ago

March 29, 1979

Geologist Bob Earhart of the U.S. Geological Survey had received permission to do the first geological survey of Glacier National Park in 65 years. Past survey attempts had been stymied because some didn’t want a formal survey done in the event valuable minerals or other resources were found, which could compromise the Park.

30 years ago

March 29, 1989

Historical preservation crews working on the Lake McDonald Lodge were only working at night to avoid disturbing a pair of nesting bald eagles nearby. The project manager for Swank Construction said the night work was “a real pain,” but it was part of the contract. Wolf ecology biologists were hoping that wolf packs in Glacier would have three litters this spring. Over the past four years, wolves had two litters, breaking a more than 50 year time span with no wolf pups in the park.

20 years ago

March 25, 1999

After receiving a tip, the Northwest Montana Drug Task Force busted a meth lab in a motel room in Hungry Horse. Not only could deputies smell the chemicals cooking, they could see the lab through the window — the cookers weren’t exactly the sharpest tools in the shed, it seemed.

10 years ago

March 26, 2009

It was a sad day in the Columbia Falls community with the passing of Craig Finberg, who died from pancreatic cancer. He was 51. Finberg was one of the best basketball players to ever play for Columbia Falls and even had a stint with the Portland Tarilblazers. Later in life he coached at Montana Western in Dillon while getting his teaching degree and then coached the Beaverhead County boys basketball team for 19 years, amassing the best record in school history, 281-160, with two state titles and 11 state tourney berths.

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