Jury finds Haskell guilty on four charges (posted 2/24/17)
After a four day trial in Pinedale, a jury returned guilty verdicts on four charges, three felony and one misdemeanor against former Sublette County Sheriff Stephen Haskell. A fifth charge had been dismissed earlier. A sentencing date will be set at a later court appearance. Click on this link for more on this story: Jury finds Haskell guilty Sublette Examiner, Feb. 24, 2017
March 1 deadline for Wyoming brand renewals (posted 2/24/17)
Wyoming Livestock Brands due for renewal in 2017 are now expired as of December 31, 2016. However, a grace period has been granted until midnight March 1, 2017 to renew brands. Brand renewals must be postmarked by midnight March 1, 2017 in order to avoid a late fee on your renewal.
All brands renewed after midnight on March 1, 2017 will cost an additional $150.00 on top of the $300.00 renewal fee. The Wyoming Livestock Board will be sending a certified letter containing a second brand renewal notice to those producers who have a brand due for renewal and did not renew their brands prior to January 31, 2016.
There were approximately 8,409 livestock brands that needed to renewal in 2017. As of January 9, 2017 the brand office has renewed 4,723 brands. Approximately 587 brand notices were returned to brand board as undeliverable.
To check and see if your notice may have been returned due to an address change, go to https://wlsb.state.wy.us under brand recording. There is a list of names whose brand renewal notices were returned to the office marked undeliverable.
For questions concerning your brand, call the Wyoming Livestock Board at 307-777-7515 or 307-777-7516.
BLM Pinedale holds open houses for the Boulder Travel Management Plan (posted 2/24/17)
30-day public scoping begins March 1, 2017 and ends April 1, 2017
Bureau of Land Management
The Bureau of Land Management Pinedale Field Office will host two open houses for the public to participate in the public scoping process for the Boulder Travel Management Plan (TMP). The plan intends to designate travel routes for BLM-managed lands southeast of the Boulder, Wyoming area. The first open house will be held on March 15, 2017, from 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Pinedale Field Office, located at 1625 West Pine Street, Pinedale, Wyoming 82941. The second open house will be held on March 16, 2017, from 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Boulder Community Center, located at 304 Adams Street, Boulder, Wyoming 82923.
The travel management plan will implement transportation management decisions from the Pinedale Resource Management Plan (RMP). BLM staff is seeking public input for the following questions as part of the public scoping process of this TMP:
• Are there any routes within the Boulder travel management area that you would like to see improved?
• Are there any routes that you would like to see added?
• Are there routes that you believe are unnecessary or redundant?
• What are your experiences in the area regarding over-the-snow use?
• How do you feel is the best way to sign and delineate open and closed routes?
• Do you feel that wildlife is adversely impacted by Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) use in the area?
• How do you feel is the best way to manage routes in and around riparian areas?
• Is there adequate access to maintain water developments and manage livestock?
The BLM will use input from written comments, previous and upcoming open house meetings, existing route inventory and other data to build the alternative actions to be analyzed in the Boulder TMP Environmental Assessment. Input from BLM staff and cooperating agencies will also be used in the planning process.
The 30-day public scoping begins March 1, 2017 and ends April 1, 2017.
The BLM will accept written comments by mail or email to: email@example.com, or to: Attention: Boulder TMP, P.O. Box 768, Pinedale, Wyoming 82941. Comments will be most useful if received by April 1, 2017.
The written comments received during the public scoping process may be published as part of the environmental analysis process. All comment letters received, including names and addresses of respondents, may be published as part of this process. Individual respondents may request confidentiality. If you wish to withhold your name or address from public review or from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, you must state this prominently at the beginning of your written comment. Such requests will be honored to the extent allowed by law. All submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals representing organizations or businesses, will be made available for public inspection in their entirety.
We welcome your participation in this process. Please contact the BLM Pinedale Field Office at 307-367-5300 to request additional information regarding the Boulder Travel Management Plan.
Drone use over National Elk Refuge results in fine (posted 2/24/17)
National Elk Refuge – U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Federal Wildlife Officer issued a ticket earlier this week for illegal use of an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), or drone, on the National Elk Refuge. The Washington, D.C. resident was cited and fined for disturbance of wildlife.
The drone operator launched his equipment from a pullout along North Highway 89 and flew the UAS over a wintering herd of elk. The action created enough disruption to cause approximately 1,500 animals to bolt and run, dispersing the herd for nearly ½ mile. The animals, which had been resting along Flat Creek, scattered as far east as Miller Butte. In addition to creating a wildlife disturbance, the drone was not registered through the Federal Aviation Administration.
Policies regarding use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems may vary between land management agencies. Drone operators are required to familiarize themselves with and comply with all applicable restrictions in the areas where they are flying.
Drones are especially dangerous when used near wildfires, which frequently occur on federal lands. They can interfere with wildland fire air traffic, such as air tankers, helicopters, and other aircraft used to suppress wildland fires. Forty-one wildland fire drone incursions were reported in 2016, resulting in a range of actions including grounding aircraft, canceling flights, and diverting aerial resources to other locations.
In addition to regulations that apply to wildlife refuges, special restrictions apply to drone use within five miles of an airport and within two miles of a helibase. Because of the National Elk Refuge’s proximity to the Jackson Hole Airport and a designated helibase at St. Johns’ Medical Center, additional regulations may apply depending on an operator’s location.
Drone use on the National Elk Refuge has been sporadic, explained Deputy Refuge Manager Cris Dippel. "We’ve had a number of reports in the last few years, especially on the Refuge Road and near the sleigh ride area," he explained. Previous incidents have usually involved wildlife, including elk and bighorn sheep, and included other infractions such as trespassing.
Long winters, especially during heavy snow years like the current one in the Jackson Hole valley, can take a toll on wildlife. Repeated disturbances from human activity can stress animals and impact their health and survival. "There are plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities for people on the National Elk Refuge during the winter," Dippel added. "We ask people to use caution and good wildlife ethics while viewing and photographing animals."
General guidance and policies regarding the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems can be found on the Federal Aviation Administration’s web site at https://www.faa.gov/uas/.
Barrasso and Heller praise extension of comment period for EPA’s Proposed Mining Rule (posted 2/24/17)
Senator Barrasso media release
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today (Friday, Feb. 24, 2017), U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), and Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) praised the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to extend the comment period for the proposed rule titled: "Financial Responsibility Requirements Under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) for Classes of Facilities in the Hardrock Mining Industry."
The EPA announced that it was extending the comment period for the rule by 120 days, until July 10, 2017.
"This proposed mining rule could have very significant impacts," said Barrasso. "The EPA should not rush through duplicative regulations that could have serious economic consequences. I am pleased to hear the agency is allowing for more time to review the public’s comments."
"Under the previous administration, regulators in Washington were too quick to hand down harsh regulations and rules without considering the impact it could have on mining, utility, and other energy companies," said Heller. "Today, the EPA made the right decision to issue an additional 120-day extension that will allow local governments, state agencies, and affected stakeholders, like those in Nevada, the appropriate time to examine this new rule and provide feedback. I welcome this fresh approach by the EPA and believe we can achieve safe, clean, and economically efficient natural resources production for years to come."
Wolf News Roundup 2/22/2017 (posted 2/22/17)
Depredation in Nepal
New research indicates that livestock accounted for 27% of snow leopard diets, and 24% of Himalayan wolf diets, but that livestock was consumed less frequently than their proportional availability. Snow leopards preferred horses and goats, avoided yaks, and used sheep as available. Livestock occurred more frequently in scats of adult male snow leopards.
The paper is entitled "Snow leopard and Himalayan wolf: Food habits and prey selection in the Central Himalayas, Nepal" and was recently published in the journal PLOS one.
A proposal to allow public hunters to kill "problem wolves" – instead of having state agency employees do the task –is drawing controversy in Oregon. Instead of proposing a hunting and/or trapping season, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has proposed. The controlled take proposal would utilize special permits for the lethal removal of wolves involved in damage situations. Environmental groups oppose the proposal as a wolf hunt in disguise, while state wildlife officials said utilizing hunters and trappers would save the wildlife department both time and money.
To learn more, check out the Register-Guard article linked below.
The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife and University of Washington are teaming up to study how eight years of wolf population growth in the northeastern part of the state is affecting deer and elk, as well as mountain lions. The study will take place in a multiple-use area where hunting, logging and livestock grazing also occur.
To learn more, check out the article linked below.
On Feb. 14, U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Water and Power Subcommittee, reintroduced the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Plan Act. The bill would require the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to collaborate with states, county governments, and local stakeholders to sustain viable wild wolf populations without adversely impacting livestock, wild game, or recreation.
Specifically, this legislation would require the USFWS to draft an updated recovery plan for the Mexican gray wolf in Arizona and New Mexico. The plan would need to contain automatic triggers to ensure appropriate action is taken.
If the agency’s director does not comply with this new recovery plan, state wildlife authorities would be empowered to supplement or assume management of the Mexican gray wolf in accordance with the Endangered Species Act. Upon attainment of the minimum wolf population target, the bill would mandate automatic delisting, returning management of the Mexican gray olf to the states.
"The federal government’s outdated management of Mexican gray wolf populations is harming ranchers and our state’s rural communities," said Flake. "This bill will ease the burdens on rural Arizonans by enhancing local stakeholder participation and state involvement in the recovery process."
The population of Mexican wolves in the wild has risen to 113 animals in New Mexico and Arizona, according to a recent count.
Oregon wolves - Register-Guard
Washington wolves - My Columbia Basin.com
Wolf Watch - by Cat Urbigkit
Regional News (posted 2/21/17)
UW to Serve as Repository for Ancient Mammal Fossils Found in Natural Trap Cave University of Wyoming, Feb. 20, 2017
’Amazon tax’ bill update Buckrail – Jackson Hole news, Feb. 20, 2017
How much snow is too much on your roof? Buckrail – Jackson Hole news, Feb. 17, 2017
2nd Annual Sportsman’s Expo in Rock Springs May 11-14 (posted 2/20/17)
Businesses and organizations that are involved in sports activities are invited to promote their businesses at the 2nd annual Sportsman’s Expo which will be held May 11-14th in Rock Springs at the Sweetwater Events Complex. There will be vendors highlighting fishing, hunting, camping, boating, ATV, UTV, snowmobiling, skiing, wake boarding, golfing, knives, guns, sporting gear equipment, metal art, rustic decor, Dutch oven cooking, baseball, football, dance, wrestling and more.
The promoters are looking for businesses and organizations supporting sportsmen, land, wildlife and youth education, activities and expertise to attend the Expo. There will also be a variety of classes and events that children can participate in along with several other instructional courses. There will be personal protection and/or safety classes that will be available each day during the Expo.
For more information about the Western Wyoming Sportsman’s Expo, call Debi at 307-752-5359, visit WyomingHomeShow.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scam Alert - Publisher’s Clearing House / Lottery / Advance Fee Scam (posted 172/20)
Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office
ROCK SPRINGS, WYOMING On Friday, Feb. 17, the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office issued an alert concerning the reappearance in Sweetwater County of the "Publisher’s Clearing House / Lottery Scam / Advanced Fee Scam."
Sheriff Mike Lowell said Sweetwater County residents are receiving letters purportedly from Publisher’s Clearing House informing them they have won $550,000. Enclosed with the letter is a check made out for $7,897.00, or a similar amount.
The letter, which is personally (though crudely) addressed, tells the "winner" that they must contact a "Claims Manager" at a certain telephone number in order to claim their "prize" BEFORE depositing the check.
The letter also emphasizes that, "As required by Federal and State laws, your security code and prize information must be Kept strictly confidential which means, you are precluded from discussing your win with third parties." (In other words, do not call the cops.)
The bogus "Claims Manager," once contacted, informs the intended victim that they must, in advance, pay what he calls a tax or processing fee. The check can then be deposited and the "winner" can look forward to receiving his or her half-million dollar prize.
The check, of course, is worthless, there is no prize, and the victim is out the "tax" or "processing fee."
"The letter, and, especially, the check, look convincing; that’s all part of the scam," said Lowell. "The two things to remember are these: You are never going to win anything in a lottery or promotion you did not enter yourself, and NO legitimate lottery, promotion, or giveaway is ever going to ask for cash in advance."
Authorities say many of the these lottery scams are operated by violent gang organizations in Jamaica and target American seniors in particular; it is estimated that U.S. residents are bilked out of around $300 million annually by lottery scams alone.
The Sheriff’s Office recommends the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s website at www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud as an excellent source of information to help people protect themselves against fraud and scams of all kinds.
Be cautious handling baby poultry (posted 2/20/17)
Wyoming Department of Health
Soft and cute doesn’t always mean safe from health risks when it comes to baby poultry, according to a Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) representative.
"It’s the time of year when many Wyoming residents may be making plans to purchase baby poultry for their farming operations or for backyard flocks," said Tiffany Lupcho, a WDH epidemiologist. "Although these birds appear healthy and clean, they can carry harmful germs."
Salmonella is one bacteria found in animals, including baby poultry, that can cause diarrhea, fever, stomach cramps and other severe symptoms in humans. Young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with a weakened immune system are at an increased risk of developing severe symptoms.
Wyoming regularly has cases of Salmonellosis reported in humans from contact with live poultry. Many of these cases are often part of larger, multistate outbreaks involving contact with baby chicks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over the past several years the number of outbreaks of Salmonella from baby poultry has been increasing.
"Baby birds are soft and cute so many people want to touch, hold, or even snuggle with them," said. "Unfortunately, this behavior can be risky because baby birds can have germs on their body and in their droppings."
Lupcho said germs can also be found in bird cages and coops. "If someone puts their hands in or near their mouth after handling birds or touching a bird environment, they can become infected, leading to illness," she said.
"Pet ownership is extremely rewarding and there are many great benefits from having a backyard flock of chickens or larger operation," Lupcho said. "We want people to be aware of the risks so they can protect themselves and their families."
Recommended steps to reduce health risks associated with live birds include:
- Children younger than 5 years of age, elderly persons or people with weak immune systems shouldn’t handle or touch chicks or other live poultry.
- After touching live poultry or anything in the area where they are found, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water. If soap and water aren’t available, use hand sanitizer.
- Don’t let live poultry inside the house, in bathrooms or in areas where food or drink is prepared, served or stored.
- Don’t eat or drink around live poultry, touch them with the mouth or hold closely to the face.
- Clean equipment or materials used in caring for live poultry outside the house, such as cages or feed or water containers.
Patrol provides life-saving service with ‘blood runs’ (posted 2/16/17)
Wyoming Highway Patrol Lt. Tim Romig holds the door for Trooper Dave Redding at the Albany County line as Redding pulls platelets from the back of Romig's patrol car near Cheyenne, Wyoming, Feb. 3. The platelets were needed at the hospital in Rock Springs. Photo courtesy Wyoming Department of Transportation.
Wyoming Highway Patrol
Snow blows across the roadway, creating areas of ice even where the sun shines.
"11 degrees … there’s a potential for black ice." He scans the roadway for gravel and dry pavement before pointing out a dry line. "Do you see that gray area? I’m keeping my tires on that line." Wyoming Highway Patrol Lt. Tim Romig is always reassessing the road to determine how he can make his delivery safely, even while traveling more than 110 mph in his Dodge Charger on a day on which the forecast calls for winds between 55 and 75 mph in areas of Southeast Wyoming.
Romig raced west on Interstate 80 on Feb. 3 not to pursue a speeding driver but to deliver platelets.
Troopers call the service a "blood run."
When a hospital in Wyoming runs out of blood or platelets, it puts a call in to the WHP. If the event meets WHP requirements, several troopers are organized to make a relay run from Cheyenne to wherever the blood may be needed. The first available trooper is sent once the call is made.
"It must be an emergency," Romig said. "We run ‘lights on.’ But it’s a life-saving service we provide."
Regardless of the conditions – even if roads are closed because of weather – the troopers answer the call.
"Someone’s life hangs in the balance," he said. "The hospital can save someone’s life with (the blood)."
Blood runs are needed several times a month. And, sometimes, there may be more than one run in a day.
"Sometimes hospitals run completely out of blood, and they have someone in surgery," Romig said. "Sometimes the need can be because of a bad crash."
Troopers can complete the run faster as a relay. The Feb. 3 run from Cheyenne to Rock Springs would call for four-five troopers, Romig said. Because each trooper knows the region and drives a portion of the section they run twice, they know what the conditions will be. Additionally, he said the troopers are more attentive than if they had to drive two-three hours by themselves.
"We try to do these as quick as we can," he said. But safety is always paramount, he adds. He tries not to surprise drivers. He doesn’t want them to change lanes too quickly or anything else that could present a danger. He’s careful not to pull too close to vehicles. He wants a clear path but doesn’t want them to think they themselves are being pulled over.
"People can’t always hear the siren or see the lights until the patrol car is close," Romig said. He calls it outrunning your siren.
"These people don’t know how important what we’re carrying is," he said.
Romig met Trooper Dave Redding at the Albany County line. The 26-mile trip from United Blood Services in Cheyenne to the county line took around 18 minutes. Romig estimates the average speed of the trip was around 90 mph.
Romig said there are more people than just the troopers who are involved.
"Without the plows and sanders, we wouldn’t be able to drive through on these roads," he said. "Without the mechanics we wouldn’t have serviceable vehicles. And without dispatch and the (Transportation Management Center), we wouldn’t have the information we need to make the trip. All of this ties together and saves someone’s life."
All of this effort is made despite that everyone involved will never even know who they helped.
Always vigilant and working to keep the roads safe, Romig spots a vehicle parked on the side of the road on the return trip to Cheyenne and radios in to check to see if another trooper has already made a welfare check on it. After confirming that they have, he drives on, ready for the next life-saving call.
Click on this link for more photos
Yellowstone recruiting for 2017 Youth Conservation Corps program (posted 2/16/17)
Work-based park education program for youth ages 15-18, deadline to apply is March 1, 2017
National Park Service
MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, WYOMING - How would you like to help Yellowstone while you work, learn, play, and serve in the world’s first national park? Yellowstone National Park is currently recruiting for the 2017 Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) program, a residential work-based education program for young men and women between the ages of 15 and 18. Visit the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) Program (https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/management/yccjobs.htm) for application materials.
Completed application materials must be received no later than March 1, 2017.
YCC is designed to develop an appreciation for the nation's natural resources and heritage through unique educational, recreational, and work experiences. Yellowstone recruits youth from all social, economic, ethnic, and racial backgrounds for the program. Corps members work together with National Park Service staff to complete conservation projects such as rehabilitation of trails, campground restoration, and a wide variety of resource management, visitor support services, and maintenance projects.
Participants and staff develop their job and leadership skills while further exploring personal values, gaining self-esteem, expanding their awareness of work ethics, and learning firsthand about environmental and conservation issues. Corps members will also participate in evening and weekend recreational activities and discover the many options for careers in the National Park Service and other land management agencies.
Yellowstone will offer two, month-long YCC sessions, June 11 to July 12, and July 16 to August 16. Sixty youth will be selected from across the country to participate in the program.
No previous wilderness experience is required, but a willingness and ability to work in a physically active outdoor program, getting along well with others, and maintaining a positive attitude are essential for success.
Participants will be required to live on location, and room and board will be provided at a minimal cost. Wages will be set at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Applicants must be citizens of the United States and be 15 years of age by June 11, but not over 18 years of age by August 16.
Questions may be directed to YELL_YCC_Office@nps.gov.
The Yellowstone YCC Program is funded by park entrance fees and Yellowstone Forever.
U.S. Senate pages wanted for summer 2017 (posted 2/16/17)
Deadline to apply is March 1, 2017
U.S. Senator Mike Enzi
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyoming, is encouraging Wyoming high school students to apply to be a Senate page for the summer sessions in Washington, D.C.
There are a total of 30 page positions in the United States Senate each session and Enzi is fortunate to have the opportunity to sponsor a young adult from Wyoming to serve in one of these positions.
The deadline for summer applications is March 1, 2017.
"The page program allows students to have a front row seat during debates in the U.S. Senate," said Enzi. "The program will provide experiences that participants will carry with them forever."
Page duties consist primarily of delivering correspondence and legislative material at the Capitol. Other duties include preparing the Senate chamber for sessions and carrying bills and amendments to the appropriate people on the Senate floor.
Summer page eligibility is limited to rising high school juniors and seniors this summer who will be 16 or 17 years old on or before the date of the appointment. Applicants must have a minimum grade point average of 3.0.
Pages live in Webster Hall located near the Capitol and receive a stipend to cover the cost of the residence. Breakfast and dinner are provided each day.
The first summer session runs from June 12 to June 30, and the second summer session runs from July 10 to July 28. The application and additional information can be found by going to www.enzi.senate.gov. Further questions can be directed to Dianne Kirkbride in Senator Enzi’s Cheyenne office at 307-772-2477 or Dianne_Kirkbride@enzi.senate.gov.
Scam Alert - Swindlers are calling, claiming to be with Sweetwater County government (posted 2/15/17)
Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office
ROCK SPRINGS, WYO. - February 14, 2017 A telephone scam that was in circulation in Sweetwater County several years ago has now resurfaced, though with a new twist.
Sweetwater County Sheriff Mike Lowell said that swindlers are calling people and identifying themselves as either law enforcement officers or officials of a bogus "Sweetwater Civil Processing Unit." The caller, who often has a thick accent, tells his intended victims that someone will be coming by with a warrant or other official paperwork.
The callers are rude - even threatening - and eventually ask for a credit card or debit card number to settle the phony "legal matter." They may also direct that the person purchase a reloadable debit card and forward funds.
In the past, the caller identification systems many people have on their phones showed the caller’s number to be from another state, often on the east coast, but in these recent instances the caller’s number is falsified to appear that it’s coming from a local number listed to the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office.
"It’s all part of the scam, to make it look more convincing," said Lowell. "These con artists are often quite proficient when it comes to technology. They use techniques and systems that make it appear that the calls are local, when in fact they are not."
Officials point out that, first of all, no agency of the criminal justice system is going to call to demand money or payment for fines, missed jury duty, overdue traffic tickets, etc. If you receive a call like this, make a note of the agency or department that the caller claims to be with and also note the number that appears on your caller ID.
Next, hang up, then follow up, using the information you’ve noted. Check with the organization the caller claimed to be with. And most important of all, NEVER provide such a caller with any personal or financial information.
For more information on this and many other fraud schemes, law enforcement officials recommend the FBI website at http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud