By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
Almost two weeks after being removed from the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission by Gov. Mark Gordon, the owner of a LaBarge drilling company said he still is not exactly sure of the reason for the governor’s actions.
Mike Schmid, owner of SOS Well Services, said he has several ideas as to why he was removed from the commission, but still has not been given an exact reason.
“I wish I knew the answer,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “I was totally blindsided by it.”
Schmid was removed from the commission on Jan. 26 after serving as a member since 2017.
The day Schmid received an email from Gordon telling him of his removal, Schmid posted on his Facebook page that he believed his opposition to new trapping regulations supported by the commission may have been partially responsible.
In his interview Monday, he said he believed a newspaper story about his involvement in effort to cull mountain goats from Grand Teton National Park and his attendance at a Washington, D.C. rally in support of former President Donald Trump may also have been contributing factors.
“Maybe it was a culmination of (the trapping issue) and these two other things,” he said.
Schmid testified before the Legislature’s Joint Travel, Recreation and Wildlife Committee in December in opposition to trapping regulations supported by the commission.
The testimony generated a letter from a fellow commissioner, who Schmid said accused him of not being a team player.
Schmid said he also heard from the commission’s president criticizing the testimony.
“I told the commission president I joined the commission to make a difference,” he said. “I didn’t go down there to rubber stamp things.”
Schmid said he learned later that a newspaper story about his involvement as a volunteer to remove mountain goats from Grand Teton National Park may have played a role.
Schmid was part of a team of volunteers who hunted the goats to remove them from the park. The animals are considered an invasive species.
Initially, the federal government used aerial gunners to kill the goats, but then allowed teams of volunteers access to the park to eradicate the animals.
Schmid and his team shot seven goats and after the hunt, he suggested to a reporter that as the goats became harder to find or as volunteers dwindled, the aerial gunners might be used as a last resort to complete removal of the animals.
However, Schmid said he may not have made his point clear to the reporter and it may have sounded as if he said once he was successful in his hunting outing, he was ready to have aerial gunners resume.
The article was mentioned when Schmid talked to Brian Nesvik, director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
“Nobody said a thing about the mountain goat thing,” he said. “So it came totally out of the blue for me.”
Finally, Schmid said some Facebook postings about his attendance at a Washington, D.C., rally in support of former President Donald Trump may have been a factor.
Schmid said he, two brothers and a neighbor went to the rally in Jan. 6 that was followed by an attack on the U.S. Capitol by individuals identified as Trump supporters.
Schmid said he and the other three had returned to their hotel rooms before the invasion began and returned to see what was happening. He said he posted several messages about the incident on his Facebook page.
Schmid said he was visited by two FBI agents after returning to Wyoming.
“They said the reason they were there was because they got a tip I attended and they saw my Facebook page,” he said. “They told me ‘Whenever we hear somebody was there, we have to follow up.’”
However, Schmid’s brothers and neighbor were not questioned, he said.
“That tells me this has something to do with it as well,” he said.
Despite his removal from the commission, Schmid said he will remain active in wildlife conservation activities, such as last weekend’s efforts to tag burbot or “ling” for next weekend’s “Ding-the-Ling” fishing tournament on Flaming Gorge Reservoir.
“I’ll always stay involved,” he said. “This isn’t going to prevent me from helping.”