Wildlife officials examining deer season

COLCHESTER (AP) -- The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department is examining the deer season to see if it’s time to make some major changes.

Wildlife Director Mark Scott said the department has been surveying hunters for the past 18 months. He says it’s looking at when to hold a separate season for hunters who use a bow and arrow, a muzzle loader or a rifle.

He says the department has not comprehensively looked at deer hunting in the state for 40 to 50 years.

Another possible change, affecting rifle season, would reduce the number of bucks a hunter can shoot from two to one.

Small businesses can seek loans for May flooding

MONTPELIER (AP) -- Eligible Vermont small businesses have until July 21 to file for federal disaster loans for losses from the excessive rain and flooding in May.

The U.S. Small Business Administration says federal economic injury disaster loans are available to businesses and nonprofits in all 14 counties.

The SBA says the loans can be for up to $2 million with interest rates of 4 percent for small businesses and 2.8 percent for nonprofit organizations.

SBA says it cannot provide disaster loans to agricultural producers, except aquaculture enterprises.

For more information call 1-800-659-2955 or apply online using the electronic loan application on the SBA’s website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela .

Exterminator could face loss of license

RUTLAND (AP) -- The exterminator who authorities say used a banned pesticide in treating a Vermont couple’s home for bed bugs could lose his license and face a $275,000 fine.

Neil and Patricia Whitney of Rutland recently reached a $450,000 settlement with the state agency that hired the exterminator, Cary Buck, who runs AAA Accredited Pest Control Corp. The couple said their home was made uninhabitable after it was sprayed with the federally banned pesticide, chlorphyrifos in 2012.

An Agriculture Department investigation looked at 437 homes that Buck sprayed in Rutland County since 2009. It found evidence of the chemical in 45 residences. The department filed a notice in November seeking to revoke his license and fine him.

Buck’s attorney, Ritchie Berger, said he could not comment

Vt. wildlife course
for educators set

WOODBURY (AP) -- Vermont teachers and other educators will be getting a chance to learn more about the state’s wildlife.

The "Wildlife Management for Educators" course will be held July 13 through 18 at the Buck Lake Conservation Camp in Woodbury.

The one-week, three-credit graduate course is taught by staff from the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife and others from the Agency of Natural Resources through the University of Vermont.

Fish and Wildlife’s Education Coordinator Alison Thomas says that if teachers can get connected with the outdoors and in turn expose their students, then many of these students will be able to make informed decisions about Vermont wildlife when they become adults..

Authorities break Canada-New Hampshire drug ring

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- A Manchester-based, multimillion-dollar marijuana ring that imported the drug from Canada and distributed it throughout New Hampshire and possibly in neighboring states has been broken up, the U.S. attorney’s office announced Monday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald Feith said state, local and federal law enforcement have been investigating the ring for the past year, using wiretaps, surveillance, undercover operations and controlled buys to gather evidence.

Ten people were charged last week with distribution of controlled substances and conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. Some have been detained, others released under federal supervision and some are still not in custody.

During the arrests, police found 30 pounds of marijuana, two pounds of MDMA -- also known as Molly or Ecstasy -- $85,000 in cash and numerous guns, including a machine gun and silencer, Feith said.

The marijuana, sometimes 100 pounds a week, was selling for between $3,300 and $4,000 a pound, and Feith said the seized pot alone had a value of about $150,000, making it safe to say the value of drugs moved by the ring exceeded a million dollars.

"We consider it very significant, both monetarily and from drug weight," he said.

Hassan signs hospital tax deal; state was sued

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- Gov. Maggie Hassan has signed into a law an agreement over a tax on hospital revenues that two judges had deemed unconstitutional.

Hassan, who signed the measure Monday, negotiated the settlement with 25 hospitals and legislative leaders to avoid deep cuts to the state budget this year. St. Joseph Hospital in Nashua did not settle.

The tax brought in about $185 million this year and was used for Medicaid and other state spending. The agreement calls for all the money to be spent on health care after the current budget. The hospitals will get more money for the care they provide in exchange for dropping a lawsuit.

The tax rate will drop from 5.5 percent of net patient revenues to 5.45 percent in 2016 and 5.4 percent in 2017.