Cowboy State Daily Video News: Monday, June 17, 2024

Monday's headlines include: - Teton Pass Failure Had Been Building - Meet The Rattlesnake Wrangler Of Rawlins - Huitlacoche Make Look Horrible But It’s Delicious

Wendy Corr

June 17, 20246 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)
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It’s time to take a look at what’s happening around Wyoming, for Monday, June 17th. I’m Wendy Corr, bringing you headlines from the Cowboy State Daily newsroom - Presented by Cheyenne Frontier Days - starting July 19th, from sun-up to sun-down - there’s something for everyone! Check it out at C-F-D RODEO DOT COM!


WYDOT is a week into an all-hands-on-deck response to get a temporary fix to a “catastrophic” failure of Teton Pass.

But Cowboy State Daily’s Jake Nichols reports that the landslide wasn’t actually a complete surprise. It had been unstable and building up to a collapse for decades.

“Hindsight’s 20/20. Everybody's an armchair geologist and armchair engineer and they know what could have gone wrong and how it should be fixed. Honestly, yes, the engineers knew that there was movement in the mountain and that's nothing new, mountains move, roads move. A lot of highways need constant repair. So that wasn't unusual. And trying to learn about the fix and whether it's going to be done safely, I think is the key question moving forward.”

WYDOT is now tasked with doing what it did in the late 1960s to build the road — drill pilings down to bedrock, add fill and perhaps retaining walls until the area is stabilized.


Every year, the snowpack in the southern stretch of the Absaroka Range melts to reveal the head, neck and back of a majestic mustang. The unique sign of the coming Wyoming summer is visible on the mountainside towering over the South Fork of the Shoshone River outside Cody.

Cowboy State Daily’s Andrew Rossi reports that ranchers and locals have used the Ishawooa Horse's Head as a seasonal guide for the last century, and possibly longer.

“So the horse isn't around for the whole winter season. It only appears around May and lasts until the beginning of July. And more than just being a pretty thing to look at or a curious way that the snow melts in the mountains, it was actually a really important way for early ranchers in the Cody area to judge what the mountain conditions were - like, they said that you could see the horses reins coming down from the mouth, and when the reins disappeared, they knew that the thoroughfare - the mountainous routes between Cody and Jackson - was free and clear, and they could traverse through the mountain.”

Once it's been seen, it's impossible to miss. That's why it's been such a reliable and comforting spectacle for the residents of northwest Wyoming, and always will be.


When the people of Rawlins, Wyoming, find rattlesnakes in their back yards, they either call animal control or a woman named Ashlea Roberts.

And sometimes animal control also calls Roberts, who is always asking people for rattlesnakes. Cowboy State Daily’s Clair McFarland reports that Roberts is no snake-handling show-woman, or a chef preparing rare rattlesnake cuisine - she’s a dog trainer.

“I talked to the Rawlins animal control officer and he said that he is not afraid of snakes. You know, he grew up in the Florida Everglades, so he'll grab them when people call him. But then he'll turn around and call Ashlea Roberts, who collects rattlesnakes during rattlesnake season so she can do a rattlesnake avoidance class for dogs… She remembers where she collected each snake. Whichever end of town that was on, she drives out of town that direction and drops the snake back into the wilderness. Now this is an attempt to get the snake back to his den, because if he doesn't find his den by winter, he'll die.”

Roberts says she chooses not to kill the snakes because they help with rodents and keeping rodent-borne diseases down; and because they’re not as aggressive as some other venomous snake species.


As near as anybody can tell so far, Wyoming coyotes are just that: coyotes.

Cowboy State Daily’s Mark Heinz reports that even though Wyoming coyotes share territory with Wyoming wolves, as far as anyone knows they haven’t mated with wolves to produce hybrid offspring, known as coywolves.

“They were getting really prevalent in the eastern United States and Eastern Canada, and they're called coywolves, because they're coyote-wolf hybrids. And then also, many of them have dog DNA mixed in… we don't have them here. Probably not likely to get them either, because wolves and coyotes out here have stayed very distinct from each other. The biologists aren't seeing any intermingling when they do encounter each other. It's usually the coyote running as fast as it can before the wolves kill it.” 

While coywolves are increasingly common in the East, in Wyoming they’re more likely than not in the same category as jackalopes — mythical creatures.


The historic 115-year-old Monarch Bridge, the last steel truss bridge in the Wyoming, was officially retired last week and put out to pasture - literally. 

Cowboy State Daily’s Dale Killingbeck reports that the bridge once provided thousands of miners and tons of coal a passageway across the Tongue River northeast of Sheridan. But last week, it was removed and set down in a nearby pasture.

“It's going to have a historic monument there, telling people about the bridge, but it was a great link to the to the … coal camp of Monarch, which was one of the key coal camps back in the day, where thousands of tons of coal came across this bridge… So a historic part of Sheridan county is now out to pasture.”

In its heyday, the town of Monarch boasted a population of 800 people, and the underground mine produced 5 million tons of coal a year. 


Call them Mexican truffles, corn mushrooms or, if you’re a farmer, the much less appealing “corn smut.”

Whatever you call this funky-looking fungus that grows on ears of corn, Cowboy State Daily’s Renee Jean reports that huitlacoche (pronounced wheat-la-KOH-chay) is a delicious, prized ingredient across Mexico that’s been catching on with gourmet chefs around the world - including Wyoming chef Petrina Peart.

“If it's known as anything in Wyoming, it would probably be as the dreaded corn smut, which is a fungus that grows on ears of corn. And most American farmers consider that a terrible pest, we've spent millions of dollars literally defending our crops against that, developing crops that are resistant to it. But it's actually a delicious and highly prized gourmet ingredient in Mexico, and it's been catching on more and more around the world. Lots of high end chefs know about this ingredient, including Wyoming's own celebrity chef Petrina Peart.”

The wrinkled mushroom that takes over and replaces kernels of corn is rich in minerals like magnesium, phosphorus and calcium - and gourmands say that when cooked, it has that umami flavor that deepens any savory dish.


And that’s today’s news. Get your free digital subscription to Wyoming's only statewide newspaper by hitting the Daily Newsletter button on Cowboy State Daily dotcom - and you can watch this newscast every day by clicking Subscribe on our YouTube channel. I’m Wendy Corr, for Cowboy State Daily.

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Wendy Corr

Broadcast Media Director