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Evanston Rancher Concerned About Wolverine Threat After One Wolverine Killed 18 Sheep In Utah

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The discovery of a wolverine in Utah near the Wyoming border has an Evanston rancher worried about the potential threat the predators bring, he told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday.

Vance Broadbent, who has cattle, sheep and goats throughout Uinta, Lincoln and Sweetwater counties as well as in Utah, told Cowboy State Daily that even though the number of wolverines in Wyoming is believed to be low, after seeing the damage done by the one in Utah, he is concerned about the predators.

Earlier this month, a wolverine was captured and collared by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources after it was caught attacking sheep.

“Until this incident, I didn’t know the devastation they could wreak,” Broadbent said. “It killed or injured 18 sheep over a couple of days. Then it was relocated to the area that we use for our summer range.”

While Broadbent was glad the animal was collared, he still was concerned about having another predator near his animals.

He said that in the current livestock market, ewes can cost anywhere from $350 to $450, meaning that if he lost 18, he would be out thousands of dollars.

“The bottom line is that those ewes are also producing lambs, so this isn’t just a one-time problem,” Broadbent said.

He added that one of his biggest concerns is how he would be reimbursed if one of his animals were to be killed by a wolverine. In situations where bears or mountain lions have killed one of his animals, the state has reimbursed him for the livestock.

But since wolverines do not have the same protections, any livestock producer would be out the cost of the animal if a wolverine were to kill it.

“I saw there was a sportsman group in Utah who reached out to the producer who lost 18 sheep and are going to reimburse him for the loss,” Broadbent said. “I think that’s awesome, but I also know we would have the same issue in Wyoming as in Utah.”

During the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s most recent wolverine monitoring count, there were only eight recorded in the state, but biologist Zack Walker previously told Cowboy State Daily that there are likely more.

Earlier this month, the sighting of a wolverine in Yellowstone caused so much excitement it became national news.

“They’re still considered a species of great conservation need and they’re actually protected by law in Wyoming,” Walker said. “They fill kind of a middle predator role, where they will eat live prey, but they also do a lot of scavenging, too.”

The entire species nearly went extinct in the 1920s in the lower 48 states because of unregulated harvesting, habitat loss and broad-scale carnivore poisoning, according to the Game and Fish department.

Wolverines are generally not dangerous to humans, unless they are backed into a corner and are desperate.

They are the largest mammal in the weasel family, and while they are similar to badgers, they tend to scavenge more than their temperamental family members.

Editor’s note: The original version of this story said that the state would reimburse a livestock producer when a coyote killed an animal, but this was incorrect. The story has been updated to reflect this.

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Rare Sighting of Wolverine in Yellowstone; Biologist Says Only 8th Sighting in 15 Years

in News/wildlife
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Photographs Republished With Permission From Yellowstone Insight

A group of people on a tour in Yellowstone National Park over the weekend got the opportunity of a lifetime when they came across a rare sight: a wolverine in the wild.

In what is believed to be only the eighth such sighting in the last 15 years, the visitors riding through the park on a guided tour Saturday saw a wolverine walking through the area. A 2-minute video posted to YouTube by visitor Carl Kemp shows the wolverine moving through the area. The gasps of other visitors on the tour can be heard in the background.

“After an already amazing day in the park, filled with wolves, bears, mountain goats, big horn sheep, elk, golden eagles and more, we turned around to make our way back, when I saw what I thought was a black bear running down the road,” Kemp wrote in the video description. “As soon as it turned, we realized we were in the middle of a once in a lifetime experience.”

The group’s tour guide stopped the vehicle, and allowed the group to take photos and video of the wolverine from a distance.

“The wolverine…appeared to be more curious than afraid,” Kemp said. “It looked at us several times before bounding up the hill. After giving us one more inquisitive look from the top of the hill…it disappeared into the Yellowstone’s deep evergreen forest, and left us all with a memory we will never forget.”


Very Rare Sight

Wyoming Game and Fish biologist Zack Walker told Cowboy State Daily on Monday that the wolverine sighting was a very rare sight.

“We’re getting sightings, but it’s usually on a trail camera or something like that, but very few of them are seen in-person,” Walker said. “We usually hear about a handful of sightings every year.”

The Game and Fish department does not track the sightings in Yellowstone, but according to the park’s website, only seven have been documented in the park over the last 15 years.

Walker said the sightings the department hears about are usually in the western mountain area, though, around Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone and Cody.

However, it is an exciting event any time a wolverine is spotted in Wyoming, Walker said. He added he hopes such sightings occur more often and noted that the wolverine population has been expanding in the region, although ever so slowly.

“They’re still considered a species of great conservation need and they’re actually protected by law in Wyoming,” he said. “They fill kind of a middle predator role, where they will eat live prey, but they also do a lot of scavenging, too.”


Photo republished with permission from Yellowstone Insight

Guiding Company

An employee of Yellowstone Insight, a guiding company located outside the park in Montana, took many photos of the wolverine.

They reported seeing the animal at 11:38am on Saturday and said they watched the wolverine for three minutes until an oncoming vehicle made it scamper off the road and back into the wild.

But for those three minutes, they said they were thrilled.

“My guest said out loud, exactly what I was thinking, ‘Is that a bear?’, they wrote on their Facebook page.

“For a hot second, we both thought that it might be a young black bear moving away from us, but as it turned and looked over its right shoulder towards us – there was no mistaking that the animal was indeed, a Wolverine!”

Editor’s note: The story and headline originally said this was the seventh sighting, but it is believed to be the eighth.

Photo republished with permission from Yellowstone Insight

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Way-Back Wednesday Looks at Historical Connection Between Francis E. Warren, Terry Bison Ranch

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Presented by Mick Pryor, Edward Jones Financial Advisor

Francis Emory Warren was a Medal of Honor recipient in the American Civil War, territorial governor and later the very first state governor of Wyoming. Warren was also the first and a very long serving US Senator for Wyoming. As soldier in the Union Army during the American Civil War, he was the last veteran of that conflict to serve in the U.S. Senate. The the Francis E. Warren Air Force Base and Fort are named with Senator Warren’s full name to avoid confusion with two historical army forts.

Francis Emory Warren

Francis E. Warren Air Force Base was established in 1867 (as Fort David Allen Russell)  by the United States Army. Originally named in honor of Civil War Brigadier General David A. Russell, F. E. Warren Air Force Base is the oldest continuously active military installation within the Air Force. It’s home to the 90th Missile Wing and Headquarters, 20th Air Force, of Air Force Global Strike Command.

Warren was born on June 20, 1844 in Hinsdale, Berkshire County, Massachusetts. During the Civil War, Warren served in the 49th Massachusetts Infantry as a noncommissioned officer. At the age of nineteen at the siege of Port Hudson, Warren received the Medal of Honor for battlefield gallantry. Warren later served as a captain in the Massachusetts Militia.

Following the civil war, Warren engaged in farming and stock-raising in Massachusetts before moving to Wyoming (then part of the Territory of Dakota) in 1868. Settling in Cheyenne, Warren eventually engaged in real estate, mercantile business, livestock raising and the establishment of Cheyenne’s first lighting system, becoming quite wealthy.

F.E. Warren came to Wyoming in 1868 at the age of 23. Popular accounts said he arrived with just 50 cents and no job. He took a job chopping wood, stacking wood and picking up nails for A.R Converse. Later, when Warren ran for Senate, a Democrat jokingly referred to him as the “Great American Nail Picker”.

Warren married Helen Maria Smith, a woman from Massachusetts, although all of their married life until his first election to the United States Senate, in 1890, was spent in Wyoming. They had two children, a daughter, Helen Frances, and a son, Frederick Emory. Mrs. Francis E. Warren died in 1902. Helen Frances died tragically in a fire in 1915. When Frederick Emory Warren was born on 20 January 1884, in Cheyenne, Wyoming, his father, Senator Francis Emeroy Warren, was 39 and his mother, Helen Mariah Smith, was 40. Fred had at least 1 son and 1 daughter with Elizabeth Louise Cook. He died on 26 May 1949, in Cheyenne, Wyoming, at the age of 65. The Warrens had a ranch just north of Cheyenne. Fred brought his Harvard-trained engineering experience to the ranch, moving it from its “Wild West” phase into an efficient ranching affair. Fred updated facilities and equipment until it became one of the most modern operations in the West. Fred also worked with Dr. John Hill of the Wyoming School of Agriculture to develop the Warhill Sheep, a breed with a natural tendency to twin and well suited to a range environment.

Converse gave Warren a job at his mercantile store. Later, the two men became partners in the mercantile business and then livestock business. Warren Mercantile Company became the largest supplier of furniture, hardware and carpet in Wyoming. 

Warren’s political aspirations and work included: member, Wyoming Territorial Senate (1873–1874, 1884–1885), serving as senate president; member, Cheyenne City Council (1873–1874); treasurer of Wyoming (1876, 1879, 1882, 1884); and Mayor of Cheyenne (1885).

Wyoming State Capitol after new wings were added in 1890. Wyoming State Archives.

In February 1885, Warren was appointed Governor of the Territory of Wyoming by President Chester A. Arthur, although he was removed by Democratic President Grover Cleveland in November 1886. Warren strongly supported statehood. He was reappointed by President Benjamin Harrison in April 1889, and served until 1890, when he was elected first Governor of the State of Wyoming (October 11, 1890 – November 24, 1890). Though Warren was elected as Governor in October 1890, he resigned in November 1890 to serve as one of the first Senators from Wyoming, serving until March 4, 1893. He then resumed his former business pursuits before returning to the Senate from March 4, 1895 until his death. 

Warren was the first senator to hire a female staffer and, as appropriations chairman during World War I, he was instrumental in funding the American efforts. Warren served on many committees and Warren chaired the following Senate Committees:

  • Committee on Irrigation and Reclamation of Arid Lands
  • Committee on Claims
  • Committee on Irrigation
  • Committee on Military Affairs
  • Committee on Public Buildings and Grounds
  • Committee on Agriculture and Forestry
  • Committee on Appropriations
  • Committee on Engrossed Bills

Warren and his second wife, Clara LaBarron Morgan, bought the Nagle Warren Mansion at 222 East 17th Street in Cheyenne in April 1910, and their dining room hosted people such as presidents Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. Upon Senator Warren’s death in 1929, Clara gave the mansion, fully furnished, to the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), for use as chaperoned housing for single women and as a social venue for the people of Cheyenne. This mansion is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1958, he was inducted into the Hall of Great Westerners of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.

His service to Wyoming citizens in the U.S. Senate spanned 35 years. Warren died on November 24, 1929 in Washington, D.C. at the age of 85. His funeral service was held in the United States Senate chamber. At the time of his death, he had served longer than any other U.S. Senator.

In 1881 a prominent Cheyenne citizen named Charles Terry purchased more than 300,000 acres that is known today as the Terry Bison Ranch. Just four years later, in 1885, Warren would purchase the ranch, and create the southern headquarters for Warren Livestock where for over 50 years the Warren family would run the ranch hosting prominent guests, even boasting the filming of “Charge of the Light Brigade” by Thomas Edison Studios.

When Warren purchased from Charles Terry the 300,000+ acre Terry Ranch the Warren Livestock Company owned 3,000 cattle and 60,000 sheep.  By 1890, Warren was the richest person in Wyoming. Warren opted to keep the Terry name on the ranch and to this day many people aren’t aware of the connection or rich history just off Interstate 25 on Wyoming’s border with Colorado. 

The size of the original ranch is hard to imagine, but on a recent visit to the ranch a guide pointed out that the original 300,000+ acres would have extended from just outside of Cheyenne all the way to where the Denver International Airport is located today – a nearly unfathomable swath of land. 

The ranch was the “south headquarters” of the Warren Livestock Company where in addition to running sheep and cattle they also bred and raised sheepdogs that were nationally acclaimed.

General John “Blackjack” Pershing visited the ranch frequently. Pershing married Warren’s daughter Helen “Frankie” Frances. Before the marriage, Pershing was a lowly Captain, but Warren was determined that his daughter should marry nothing less than a General. Pershing made the jump to Brigadier General almost immediately. President Theodore Roosevelt  visited Wyoming and Cheyenne several times. Roosevelt stayed at the Terry Ranch as a guest of Warren’s in 1903 and 1910. Roosevelt promoted Pershing from Captain to Brigadier General over 900 senior officers. Pershing proved to be an excellent General, who served for many years and was a decorated and respected leader.

In 1915 tragedy struck and Warren lost his daughter to a fatal fire in California. In 1915 Pershing’s wife and Warren’s daughter, Helen Frances, and three of Perhsing’s children died tragically in a fire at the Presidio Military Base in San Francisco. It was reported in the Pacific News Service in San Francisco on August 27, 1915:

FAMILY DIES IN FIRE AT PRESIDIO

By Pacific Neves Service SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 27. —Mrs. John J. Pershing, wife of Brigadier General Pershing, and her three children were burned to death early today in their home at the Presidio. General Pershing is at the Mexican border. 

The dead are: MRS. JOHN J. PERSHING, age 35. MARGARET PERSHING, aged 3 years. ANN PERSHING, aged 6 years. HELEN PERSHING, aged 8 years. Mrs. Walter O. Boswell, wife of Lieutenant Boswell, two children and a nurse and Warren Pershing, aged 6 years, were rescued by soldiers. 

Fire was discovered raging through the home shortly before 5 o’clock this morning, the building, a two-story frame structure, was gutted. Mrs. Pershing sacrificed her life in an ineffectual attempt to save her three baby girls. She was found in a bedroom, the baby Margaret in her arms, the other two girls clinging to the bed clothes. Mrs. Pershing was crushed under a heavy beam. 

Three hundred soldiers at the post, a company of the city fire department and two companies from the exposition department responded to the fire alarm. The heat was intense. Black clouds of smoke filled the house, making rescue work difficult. When the first fire fighters appeared the women were screaming pitifully for help. The home is a double building. Mrs. Boswell and her two children were able to get to a back porch on the second floor, where they were cut off from any escape. Warren Pershing was sleeping on a back porch. 

General Pershing has been away from the Presidio with the Eighth Brigade for about a year. When forces were sent to the Mexican border last year he was among the first to the scene of the trouble. Mrs. Boswell, Warren Pershing and the Boswell children and nurse are at the Letterman general hospital at the Presidio, suffering from shock and injuries. Mrs. Boswell is suffering from a serious back injury. After throwing her children from a second story porch to willing hands below, she leaped and was injured. 

Mrs. Pershing and the children, the doctors at the Letterman hospital say, were rendered unconscious by the smoke. 

Lieutenant Boswell is away from the Presidio on sick leave. Mrs. Boswell and her children were alone in their side of the house when the flames were discovered. Mrs. Boswell and Mrs. Pershing graduated from Wellesley college in the same class and had been taking a prominent part in the Wellesley celebration at the exposition. 

They were planning to travel east together to join their husbands. 

Three hundred heroes, members of the army instruction camp, officers and soldiers of the post, fought vainly to save the lives of Mrs. Pershing and the children. Battling through smoke and flames, the rescuers dared a veritable furnace to bring the women and children to safety. Their relentless efforts saved Warren Pershing. 

Mrs. Boswell was the only person who saw Mrs. Pershing after the fire started. She said; “When I was awakened I rushed out into the hall and down to Mrs. Pershing’s room. When I opened the door a mass of flames rushed out. I hastily closed the door again and as I turned I saw Mrs. Pershing ran across the hall in the front of the house and entered the room of her children.” 

Before Mrs. Boswell leaped to the ground and tossed her children into the arms of staff member William J. Johnson.  General Pershing’s personal bodyguard, who was sleeping in another building, was one of the first at the scene of the fire and proved heroic in rescuing the children.

Said Lieut. Jonathan Wainwright of the First Cavalry, who found Mrs. Pershing and the three children, the mother with one arm clasped about one of the children said on the report, ““I am satisfied that Mrs. Pershing was suffocated while trying to rescue her three children. And I am satisfied that she could have saved herself, but refused to do so when she found the three forms already silent, in their bed.”

The roof had fallen in before Lieut. Wainwright with his helpers had succeeded in tearing away the debris which covered the four victims of the fire. Over Mrs. Pershing’s shoulder lay a heavy beam. An army board of inquiry will probe the cause of the blaze. The police are conducting an inquiry into the fire and loss of life. Fire Chief Thomas F. Murphy has started an investigation into the cause of the fire and the delay in notifying the fire department. “An open grate probably caused the fire,” said Chief Murphy today, “but I am interested in the delay in turning in the alarm. Had the alarm been turned in sooner Mrs. Pershing and her children might have been saved.”

The deadly fire was determined to have been started by a coal-fired stove. Pershing’s son, Francis “Warren” Pershing, was the only surviving child. Later, Warren Pershing worked at Terry Ranch when he came home from Harvard for summer vacations. 

Colonel Francis Warren Pershing (1909–1999), John J. Pershing’s son, served in the Second World War as an advisor to the Army Chief of Staff, General George C. Marshall. After the War he continued with his financial career and founded a stock brokerage firm (Pershing & Company).

The size of the ranch now is 27,500 acres and stretches into Colorado. It is owned by the Thiel family.

The company began in 1993 when Ron Thiel originally bought the Terry Ranch for the purpose of raising Bison. Dan Thiel, the son of Ronald and Janice thought it would be a great idea to start a company that would allow people to be able to get up close and personal to the “great North American Bison”. Of course after over 1 year of red tape “Jan Thiel Inc.” dba Terry Bison Ranch Resort became a reality.

Back in the beginning there was no Senator’s Restaurant as they would serve chuckwagon dinners in an old barn called the Wagon Wheel. This building only had 3 walls and a roof and the food was cooked at the old Cookshack building. This building is now the photo shop at the Depot. Back in the early years the 7XL stables hadn’t been created yet and another company provided the trail rides for guests.

Dan Thiel started Horseshoe Bison. The horseback tours had to change over the years due to the major drought that Wyoming was experiencing during the 90’s. Because of the drought, Ron Thiel with Iron Mountain Bison had to change the landscape of his grazing operation. He introduced “Holistic Grazing” which forced him to put up fencing and change the landscape throughout the Ranch to herd the Bison from pasture to pasture. This of course changed the way tours and horseback rides are conducted, and how the horseback tours at the 7XL stables came to be the way they are.

In 1987, Dan Thiel incorporated under the name of Horseshoe Bison, Inc. The company started a small bison meat distribution and horse trading company. The two things on earth that have always saved Dan when the chips were down, were and still are, horses and bison.

Horseshoe Bison, Inc. operates on the Terry Bison Ranch Resort and this location was the south headquarters for the Warren Livestock Company. The 7XL brand is still owned by the Warren Livestock Company. The 7XL stable is the location used by Horseshoe Bison for daily trail rides. History books claim the reason 7XL was chosen as a brand is because the cowboys would often have a big night on the town, legend has it, if the cowboys had too much to drink the night before and they accidentally flipped the brand over, it would still read 7XL.

If you notice the logo, the horseshoe is pointing upward. This prevents good luck from running out. Today Terry Bison Ranch operates as a historic working ranch that has bison, horses, mules, goats, ostrich, camels, llamas, yak, poultry, peafowl and some of the most sturdy and content felines you will ever meet. Fishing is available with no state license required, guided horseback rides, ATV tours and train tours are offered. 

The Terry Town Rail Express is Wyoming’s only privately owned tourist railroad, and operates on standard gauge rail. The train operates in both Wyoming and Colorado. 

In 2010 members of the Terry Bison Ranch family bid farewell to an icon, writing, “We are sad to say that our great majestic Bison Bull “Tinker Bell” has passed away of old age. He had lived to the ripe old age of 35 years. Tinker was born in 1975 in North Dakota and was a Champion Bull within the North Dakota Bison Association. Ron Thiel purchased Tinker in 1986 to become the breeding bull for the Terry Bison Ranch. He has been seen by thousands upon thousands of visitors from all over the world. Visitors were marveled by his magnificent size of over 2250 pounds. Countless photos have been taken of him during his 31 years of breeding, and we estimate that he has produced over 1200 calves during his time as a breeder. Tinker had a pretty good life for being a Bison Bull as he relished in all of the attention that he received from all the different people. He has been tremendously missed by all of our returning guests and staff who have taken good care of him throughout the years. This is the type of animal that will never be replaced as the “Grand Daddy of a Bull” that he always was.”

Memorial that was built over the burial site of Tinker Bell so that all guests can still visit him. Beloved and never forgotten, view his Memorial on the daily Train tours.

Day-long horseback cattle drives that include breakfast and dinner are available and for delectable meals seven days a week, in a nod to Senator F.E. Warren, you’ll find Senator’s Steakhouse and Brass Buffalo saloon that is open from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. with award-winning bison burgers and bison short ribs. Another homage to Warren is the F.E. Warren Clubhouse located on the ranch.

Terry Bison Ranch is accessed by taking I-80 to I-25S, then taking exit 2 off I-25S, then south on Terry Ranch Rd. to the ranch entrance at 51 I-25 Service Road. A great family outing to a full-blown vacation you’ll find great variety in store, from the RV Park to fully equipped cabins and much more. 

Having on-site everything from lodging to meals, one of the more recent and biggest additions to the ranch is the Wyoming School of Horseshoeing. This is one of the newest, and certainly most up to date Horseshoeing School facilities in the nation, offering training programs from two weeks to learn the basics of trimming to eight weeks to learn the trade as a professional farrier. 

The school also offers supervised student farrier services to horse owners hosted on the ranch or travel up to 50 miles for an additional fee.  To learn more you’re invited to visit their website, take a glance at the Facebook page, or stop by Monday through Friday at Terry Bison Ranch, 51 I-25 Service Road, Cheyenne, WY 82007. 


This page from Wyoming’s rich history has been presented by Mick Pryor, Edward Jones Financial Advisor. While we can’t change the past, a financial strategy for the future can be planned. If you have questions, concerns or are simply looking for a friendly advisor to discover your goals, discuss strategy and look to your financial future, contact Mick Pryor today.

Way-Back Wednesday: The Buxton Case: An Anti-Immigrant Tragedy

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Sponsored By Mick Pryor, Edward Jones Financial Advisor

By Dick Blust, Jr., WyoHistory.org

Legislation aimed at immigrants may have contributed to the murder of the first Wyoming game warden killed in the line of duty.

In 1899, nine years after Wyoming became a state, the legislature created the office of the state game warden. Slowly but steadily over the following years, policies and procedures for the protection and management of Wyoming’s wildlife were created and compiled.

John Buxton of Rock Springs was discharged from the Army after World War I and appointed a deputy Wyoming game warden not long afterward. Wyoming Game Wardens Association.By 1919, there were 14 pages of Wyoming state law on the books addressing hunting and fishing, including definitions of game animals and game fish, purchase of feed for game animals, establishment of hunting seasons, beaver trapping and salaries of assistant game wardens and deputy game wardens.

Among those deputy game wardens was John J. Buxton, born in Cincinnati, Iowa, in 1888 and a resident of Rock Springs since 1910. Following a short hitch in the U.S. Army during World War I, Buxton was discharged after the Armistice and appointed a deputy game warden not long afterward.

As described in one newspaper account, on September 14, 1919, Buxton, accompanied by his pregnant wife, Jennie, and his “little son,” was traveling in his car to Rock Springs from the coal camp at East Plane when he encountered Joseph Omeyc, a 17-year-old Austrian immigrant living with his family in Rock Springs, and his companion, John Kolman, 16, also of Rock Springs. The boys were out “shooting rabbits” north of the Union Pacific’s Number 8 coal mine.

Omeyc was carrying a rifle, a Savage .30-30. According to the account, Buxton “saw the boys and went up to them and took Omeyc’s gun from him, stating that he had no license and would have to accompany him to town.” Omeyc then drew a .38-caliber revolver and shot Buxton. Dr. Edward Lauzer later testified that the bullet “had entered a little to the right of the sternal [that is, the sternum], the lower end of the sternal, directly back of the right lung and it fractured the sixth rib and lodged under the skin.”

Kolman later gave the coroner’s jury a slightly different version of events, saying that Buxton “came in the back of [Omeyc] and grabbed the gun and said ‘This is a pretty good gun for me and I just need one.’ The kid got pretty sore and pulled the [pistol] out” and after a few moments, shot the deputy warden.

Buxton was driven to the hospital in Rock Springs, where he was declared dead. Later that day, Omeyc was found hiding in a coal car on a rail spur near the Number 8 mine and arrested by Sweetwater County Sheriff John Stoddard. He was charged with first-degree murder.

It is natural to assume that Buxton seized Omeyc’s rifle because he was hunting out of season, but in fact this may not have been the case. Documents recently uncovered by the Sweetwater County Historical Museum in Green River, Wyo., and a review of Wyoming’s 1915 and 1919 game and fish laws in support instead a scenario wherein Buxton was acting within a state statute that prohibited non-citizens from possessing firearms or even fishing gear unless they had a special license.

First is the question of hunting out of season. Omeyc and Kolman were out shooting rabbits, which, in 1919, were not classified as game animals in Wyoming. At that time, game animals and fish were defined in state statue as “any elk, deer, mountain sheep, wild goats, antelope, moose, trout, grayling, or bass within the state,” with no mention of rabbits at all under the statutes’ Section 55, “Game and Fish.” While hunting seasons for species of game like deer and elk were clearly laid out, there were none for rabbits, which were unregulated.

Next is the license issue. Normally in a situation like the Buxton-Omeyc case, Omeyc’s not having a “license” would seem to refer to a hunting license, but the transcript of John Kolman’s testimony at the Sweetwater County Coroner’s inquest into Buxton’s death implies another type of license.

From Kolman’s testimony:

“Q: Did you [Kolman] have a license?

A: No, my father is a citizen and I didn’t need one.”

Later in Kolman’s testimony:

“Q: Is Oymace’s [sic] father an American citizen?

A: No, he just got his first papers.”

These passages, with their focus on the need for possession of a license contingent on citizenship, appear puzzling until we consider Wyoming law in effect at the time. Passed by the Wyoming Legislature in 1915, Section 13 of “Game and Fish Law” in Wyoming statute reads, in part, as follows:

“Alien’s Gun and Fish License. — There is hereby created a special gun and fish license for aliens. No person, not a bona fide citizen of the United States shall own or have in his possession, in the State of Wyoming, any gun, pistol or other firearm, or any fishing tackle, without first having obtained the specified license therefor, which such special gun and fish license shall cost the owner the sum of twenty-five dollars and shall expire on December 31st of each year after date of issuance thereof.”

Section 13 goes on to declare that:

“Any alien of the United States who shall have in his possession or under his control any gun, pistol or other firearm, or any fishing tackle, without having taken out and being at the time in possession of a license as herein provided, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of not less than twenty-five dollars nor more than one hundred dollars; and in the event that such fine and costs are not paid, shall be imprisoned in the county jail until such fine and costs are paid at the rate of one dollar a day.

Austrian-born Joseph Omeyc, 17, was relieved of his rifle by the deputy game warden but had a pistol in his pocket. Wyoming State Archives.“It shall be the duty of the State Game Warden, his assistants, and deputies, and all other peace officers in the State of Wyoming, to search for and take into their possession any gun, pistol, or other firearms or fishing tackle found in the possession of any alien not entitled to hold or possess the same, and to sell the same, destroy or otherwise dispose of the same upon order of any Justice of the Peace, any District Court of the State of Wyoming, or a judge or District Court Commissioner thereof.”

The statute made several exceptions to the license requirements for aliens: “Provided further, that the provisions of this section shall not apply to any alien who is a bona fide resident of the State of Wyoming, and a bona fide freeholder in the State of Wyoming, or one who pays taxes in any county of this state in excess of the sum of One Hundred Dollars, or to any settler on the public lands of the United States or the State of Wyoming and who shall have initiated proceedings to acquire title thereto under the several acts of Congress or the laws of the State of Wyoming, nor shall it apply to persons engaged in tending or herding sheep or other animals in herd or on the open range when in active employment.”

Early in 1919, with Section 21, the Legislature stiffened the already-repressive Section 13 by removing the exceptions for aliens who were “bona fide residents of Wyoming,” “bona fide freeholders,” or those paying taxes in excess of $100.

What state of affairs made it a crime for non-citizens to possess so much as a fly reel without a license? The answer may be in what is often termed the First Red Scare.

The Red Scare of 1919-1920

The years following the end of World War I were tumultuous. More than 116,000 Americans had lost their lives in the conflict, embittering many against Europe and European immigrants.

In 1919, after two years of wartime price controls, workers across the country seeking higher wages went on strike. Four million men and women—one fifth of the nation’s work force—walked out. Two years earlier, in 1917, Lenin and the Bolsheviks had overthrown the Russian government and murdered Czar Nicholas II and his family. The belief gained ground that Bolsheviks bent on revolution here in the United States were behind the strikes.

During and after World War I in Europe and the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, anti-immigrant feeling ran high in the United States. This cartoon ran in an Ohio paper in March 1919. The Ohio State University. Click to enlargeThe acts of anarchists and communists, (both actual and imagined), many of whom were European-born, spread fear and bred anti-immigrant paranoia on a wide scale and triggered the Red Scare of 1919-1920.

Some of the trouble was real enough. In April 1919, anarchists mailed dozens of bombs to top-level politicians, government officials and businessmen all over the country, including John D. Rockefeller, Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer and Oliver Wendell Holmes, an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court. In June, anarchists set off bombs in eight American cities. None of the those targeted were killed, though several people were badly wounded.

In the wake of the bombings, the U.S. attorney general and the Department of Justice launched what came to be called the “Palmer Raids,” mass roundups and arrests carried out by federal agents. They targeted suspected communists and anarchists, in particular Italian and east European immigrants, both Jewish and non-Jewish, and immigrant leftist labor advocates. Thousands of arrests resulted, and 556 resident aliens were eventually deported, most often for political beliefs, associations and memberships rather than actual acts. The harsh tactics of the Palmer Raids led to the formation of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), in January 1920.

In June 1920, Massachusetts District Court Judge George Anderson ordered the release of nearly 20 of the arrested aliens and denounced the Department of Justice’s actions, writing that “A mob is a mob, whether made up of Government officials acting under instructions from the Department of Justice, or of criminals and loafers and the vicious classes.”

The Buxton Case – Epilogue

Joseph Omeyc’s .38-caliber Eastern Arms Company revolver, similar to this one, had a shrouded hammer and was designed for easy pocket concealment. Guns International.Joseph Omeyc pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in District Court in Green River on March 17, 1920, and was sentenced to 20 to 21 years at the state penitentiary at Rawlins. Paroled in 1924, he violated his parole and disappeared. According to state Board of Charities and Reform records for the Wyoming State Penitentiary, he was never apprehended.­

Deputy Game Warden John Buxton was buried with full military honors in Rock Springs. His wife Jennie died in 1920, a victim of the world-wide Spanish Flu epidemic.

On Feb. 1, 1935, the State Legislature approved a bill awarding $5,000 to “June Buxton and Jacqueline Buxton, minor daughters of John Buxton, deceased, who was killed in line of duty as Deputy Game Warden of the State of Wyoming, on September 14, 1919,” in compensation for their father’s death.

Nothing that happened that day in September 1919 could justify the murder of Deputy Game Warden John Buxton, but bad laws tend to foster bad consequences, not least when they’re directed against people based on political beliefs, ethnicity or national origin. There was no rationale for Section 13 and Section 21 of the game statutes; they addressed no wildlife management needs or issues. A product of the paranoia of the time, they were blows aimed squarely at non-citizens and nothing more. By 1921 both were gone, repealed by the same state Legislature that passed them.

This page from Wyoming’s rich history has been presented by Mick Pryor, Edward Jones Financial Advisor. While we can’t change the past, a financial strategy for the future can be planned. If you have questions, concerns or are simply looking for a friendly advisor to discover your goals, discuss strategy and look to your financial future, contact Mick Pryor today.

Sponsored By Mick Pryor, Edward Jones Financial Advisor

Wyoming, Colorado Wildlife Officials Warn of Livestock, Bighorn Sheep Mixing

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming and Colorado officials are warning that the mixing of domestic livestock and bighorn sheep could lead to negative impacts for the region’s bighorn sheep populations.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials this week expressed concern about domestic goats that are used for weed and vegetation control mingling with the bighorn sheep population in Estes Park, due to concern of the potential spread of disease between the domestic animals and the sheep.

The problem is not limited to Estes Park, but could affect the entire state of Colorado and much of the Rocky Mountain West, including Wyoming. Since bighorn sheep are so closely related to the domesticated animal, it is easy for disease to pass between the two, according to Wyoming Wildlife Advocates.

This is a major concern for wildlife managers across the West because diseases such as pneumonia and conjunctivitis can wipe out up to 90% of a bighorn sheep herd, according WWA.

Colorado has around 7,000 bighorn sheep in the state, while Wyoming has around 6,500, according to a report from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep historically existed in tremendous numbers in the western United States.

After being reduced to near extinction in the region, bighorn sheep have made strong recoveries due to efforts by western wildlife management agencies and conservation groups. However, the sheep still face significant threats, especially from diseases transmitted by domestic sheep and goats. 

In the early 2000s, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department created a working group to develop recommendations for preventing the spread of disease between domestic animals and the wild game. The group recommended the introduction of effective vaccines for the animals and the relocation of bighorn sheep to safer areas where they would still be protected.

“It only takes one sheep that contracts a disease to hinder an entire herd,” said Chase Rylands, a wildlife officer in Estes Park.

Adult sheep survivors of such diseases can become chronic carriers and infect lambs every year.

The threat of disease introduction when domestic animals do co-mingle with wild herds is so severe that wildlife officials are sometimes forced to euthanize any wild bighorns that come into contact with the domestic animals and animals that appear to show signs of illness afterward.

Inaction may result in a cascading effect of disease outbreak, death and poor population performance, which could take decades to overcome, wildlife officials said.

“Disease transmission is nothing to be taken lightly with Colorado’s wildlife, especially with bighorns,” Ryands said. “Coexisting with wildlife isn’t always easy, but preventing the comingling of domestic animals with wildlife is most often preventable and essential to sustaining populations of all wildlife.” 

For those with domestic livestock that needs to be separated from bighorn sheep encounters, Colorado Parks and Wildlife suggested implementing sound fencing practices, such as using an electric outrigger fence (two feet from wire fencing) or double fencing (two wire fences with a minimum spacing of at least 10 feet in between and a height of eight feet).

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Mike Schmid Still Not Sure Why He Was Removed From G&F Commission

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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.”

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Jimmy Orr: Cowboy State Daily’s Most-Read Stories of the Year

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By Jimmy Orr, Executive Editor Cowboy State Daily

It’s that time in the calendar when news organizations look back at the biggest stories of the year and provide some commentary.

That’s what Cowboy State Daily’s Bill Sniffin and Jim Angell are doing and there are no people better than doing that.

This column is a bit different.  This is just about numbers. The stories that generated the most traffic because — most likely — of social media. 

Something caught someone’s attention and the sharing took-off.

These stories aren’t the most important but they generated the most readership.  It’s likely because of coronavirus-fatigue. People were looking for stories that didn’t remind them of the coronavirus.

That’s not to say people weren’t reading coronavirus-related stories. They were. By category, there was nothing bigger than stories about the pandemic and we did over 900 of them.

The top ten stories, however, it appears gave people a break from the bad news.

Let’s dig in….


10. Fat Grizzly Bear Gets Into Another Altercation While Guarding His Bull Elk

This was the story about the Yellowstone grizzly that downed a bull elk and took a couple weeks to eat it. In the meantime, photographers and videographers by the hundreds — it seemed — gathered to document the bear’s breakfast, lunch and dinner.

A wolf sauntered by (if wolves can saunter) and decided he might have a snack. Fatty the Bear, as we called him, was not in a mood to share and let the wolf know.

As we wrote in the September 30 story, we could empathize:

We’ve all been there. It’s late on Friday. You have a few thousand beers. You order a large Meat-Lover’s special and hork down a couple of slices David Hasselhoff-style before you pass out upside down caught in the steps of a spiral staircase.

It’s a story as old as time.

You wake up the next day craving more of your pizza only to find it gone.

You learn from that experience to guard your food.  [FULL STORY]


9.  Grizzly 399’s Cubs Stop Traffic To Wrestle & Play With Cones; No Tourist Gets Mauled

If the story was about Grizzly 399 and her cubs, chances are it performed very well on Cowboy State Daily. 

We loved writing about the five-some. This family of bears gave us welcome escape during the pandemic.

Even though we wished — often — that tourists would just leave them alone, we also realized that when someone took a photo or video of the bears, we could write about it.

This story was simple. It was just about the four cubs who had fun playing with some traffic cones. 

To make it better, a tourist decide to narrate the fun on his iPhone while sitting in his RV.

As we wrote: “From the video, it sound like Chris Pipes could be a former TV anchor. He described what he saw like someone might do the play-by-play of the Rose Parade.”  [FULL STORY]


8.  Mötley Crüe’s Nikki Sixx Escapes to Wyoming 

No chance of a Pulitzer on this. But who cares? It’s a fun story.

Having been a Mötley Crüe fan since 1983 and knowing about Nikki Sixx’s successful battle with addiction, this was a story — when we heard about it — that we wanted to jump on.

It’s a human interest story.

It’s fun how we heard about it as well.  One of our readers texted us and said she was walking down her street in Teton Village and passed Sixx, his wife, and their daughter. And they were all very friendly.

She was reluctant for us to report about it as she thought it could be TMZ-like, which we understood.

By the same token, however, the couple took to Instagram to announce their departure from Los Angeles to Teton County so we thought they weren’t being shy about it — so why not write it up?

There were great photos of the rocker along with his baby daughter in their airplane and in subsequent Instagram posts, he was really quite complimentary of Wyoming.

Although the story generated a number of “who cares?” comments and “he should stay in California” mean-spirited remarks on our Facebook page, there were also plenty of people who were welcoming as well.

For the record, we do recognize Teton County as part of Wyoming although a vocal number of commenters believe Teton County should be kicked out of the state.


7. Grizzly Attack Victim Videos His Exposed Bones Immediately After Bear Encounter “Just In Case He Didn’t Survive”

Another bear story. People love bear stories. Except this gentleman. He hates bears.

Shannun Rammel was attacked by a grizzly earlier this year. People could say he brought it on himself as he snuck up on the grizzly in an abandoned shed (never a good strategy).

Regardless, you gotta admire his ability to be calm under pressure.

After getting attacked, he asked his wife to film him on her phone so he could tell the story of the attack in case he expired.

“You can see my bones and my tendons,” he said. “He ripped into me pretty good there.”

As we wrote:

His wife told the TV station that when she saw her husband “getting thrown like a rag doll,” she came up with the idea of running over the bear in their truck.

“So when I punched the truck, he stopped and looked at me, dead straight in my eyes,” Jammie Rammel said. “He got off Shannun and turned around and got out of there,” she said.  [FULL STORY]


6.  Snow Possible In Wyoming This Weekend. Because It’s 2020

The weirdness of 2020 continued with two freak summer snowstorms. One that happened in late August and a huge one that occurred right after Labor Day weekend.

This story just previewed the first one and Ellen Fike presented it in full context:

As the 10 biblical plagues continue to curse Wyoming and the rest of the world, a portion of the state will see another favorite friend: snow.

This storm didn’t generate a lot of snow but the next one sure did. [FULL STORY]


5.  Hikers Run From Grizzly While Onlookers Laugh

This was a shocking story because of what could have happened. 

The video is insane. You see a grizzly running down the same path where three hikers and a baby (AND A BABY!) are hiking.

Hikers from a close ridge are filming the action and letting them know to make some noise.

Instead of making noise, the hikers (on the same trail with the grizzly and THE BABY) start to run.

The other hikers yell at them “Don’t run. Don’t run!!!”

Then the hikers start laughing (the ones who are safe filming the whole thing). Thankfully it ended okay.  As we wrote:

To be fair, the bear didn’t show any interest in pursuing those hikers and it was a really nervous situation so it’s not as though he was cheering on the grizzly like he was watching a gladiator fight in Ancient Rome.

“Thank goodness that it all went well afterwards,” he said. “Other than that it was a beautiful day for a hike down to Hidden Lake.”   [FULL STORY]


4.  Surprised Hiker Captures Video of Grizzly Barreling Down on Two Mountain Goats

Guess what?  Another grizzly story.

This one is another close call. A grizzly is running full speed (as far as we can tell) after a couple mountain goats down a mountain trail and comes to a fork in the road.

The bear has a decision to make. Keep running after the mountain goats (who can run quite fast) or take the other trail where he would run into humans (who are really slow).

Thankfully the bear chose to stay on the same path. But it was close.

The video was a bit wobbly but we understood.

We don’t blame the hiker for the wobbly video.

After all, if we were just feet away from a grizzly barreling down the mountainside in full pursuit of two mountain goats, our video might be wobbly too.

No word if the mountain goat survived. The hiker, for some reason, chose not to run after the grizzly to get the footage.  [FULL STORY]


3.  25% of Wyoming Stay-At-Home Workers Boozing During Work Hours

Only one direct coronavirus story scored in the top 10. Out of more than 900 coronavirus stories we did that may seem a bit surprising.

It doesn’t to us. As we already mentioned, by category, traffic to coronavirus-related stories dwarfed everything else.

But there was also coronavirus overload.  People looked to the fun bear stories or the wacky weather stories to escape.

And this one is kind of a hybrid coronavirus and wacky human interest story.

A poll from alcohol.org polled 3,000 American workers and found out that 25% of Wyomingites who worked from home due to the coronavirus were drinking on the job.

In the Rocky Mountain West, we were number one!  As we wrote:

Does 25% seem high to you? Of our neighboring states only one has a lower percentage of boozers (and it’s not Utah).

Only 22% of South Dakotans are taking advantage of not having a boss around.

Hawaiians flat-out don’t care. A full two-thirds of them are opening up the hatch while working on TPS reports.

The lowest state?  Arkansas with only 8% admitting to honking the hooch.  [FULL STORY]


2.  Yellowstone Tourist Trips And Falls When Charging Bison Takes After Her

This wasn’t the biggest Bison versus Human story of the year (that’s coming up) but this was still one heck of a story.

It’s still amazing to us that no one is hurt.  The video, again, is insane and shows a couple idiotic tourists who believe bison are tame, cute puppies who just want to be petted.

They don’t. And this bison was not happy. But because the woman played-dead, the bison left her alone.

We don’t know if that was a good strategy or not. The best strategy is not getting out of your car.

And then there was the moron who “tried” to help.  As we wrote:  

Reports are that the woman was not injured. 

No word on the condition of the man, appropriately dressed in green shorts and sandals, who tried to pick up a tree branch (and failed) in an effort to look like he could actually do something against a 2,000 pound bison.  [FULL STORY]


  1. Woman Violently Attacked By Bison; Pants Ripped Off During Encounter

You knew this had to be number one.  The story that sparked a National Park Service gingerbread cookie in its honor.

The story of a female biker who left her motorcycle to go pet a bison in Custer State Park.

She didn’t lose her life but she lost her pants.

As we wrote:

One of the bison’s horns got caught in the woman’s belt and “swung her around violently.”

“She was apparently saved when her pants came off and she fell to the ground unconscious,” an eyewitness said.  “[A]t that point, the attacking animal ran off along with the rest of the herd.”

Custer County Sheriff Marty Mechalev told the outlet that the woman escaped serious injury in the incident.  [FULL STORY]

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Jimmy Orr is a Wyoming native who was on the masthead at the Los Angeles Times and the Christian Science Monitor as the Managing Editor, Digital. Orr served as a spokesman for the White House, directed digital strategy for President George W. Bush and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Orr co-founded Cowboy State Daily in January, 2019.

Grand Teton Mountain Goat Hunts To Resume in September; Gordon Supports

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Gov. Mark Gordon expressed his support Thursday for Grand Teton National Park’s plan to manage mountain goats within park boundaries using volunteers to kill a limited number of the animals.

The updated plan came after the governor called for a halt to the aerial gunning of non-native mountain goats to reduce their numbers. The new plan will allow qualified volunteers to harvest the animals, according to a news release from Gordon’s office.

“I am delighted that Grand Teton National Park officials have chosen to take a different, more sensible approach to addressing this important wildlife management issue,” Gordon said in the news release. “From the very beginning we have expressed our desire to partner with the Park to find a solution that achieves management objectives for this population and respects Wyoming values.”

Mountain goats in the park compete with bighorn sheep for limited, high-elevation habitat and may spread disease to the native sheep herd.

In February, Gordon was vocal in his opposition to a plan that relied on shooting the mountain goats from helicopters as a way to control the population.

In communications to both acting Grand Teton Park Superintendent Gopaul Noojibail and Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, Gordon criticized the National Park Service’s choice to “act unilaterally aerially executing mountain goats over Wyoming’s objections.”

Gordon’s position was supported by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission, which adamantly recommended volunteers play a role in the operation.

The commission passed a resolution in January that condemned the use of aerial gunning to manage goats and urged the park to use skilled volunteers as the removal method. In a letter that same month, Brian Nesvik,Wyoming Game and Fish Department director, made the same recommendation.

“The use of qualified volunteers underscores how public participation is a key tenant of how wildlife is managed in Wyoming. The opportunity for the public to aid in the reduction of mountain goats — a wildlife management action — is essential to our state and reflective of the high-value we place on the wildlife resource,” Nesvik said in the release.

Grand Teton will manage the qualified volunteer program, and the methods and approach were developed in collaboration with Game and Fish.

Mountain goat meat harvested by qualified volunteers will be used to the greatest extent possible by the qualified volunteers who take the mountain goats or by donating the meat to organizations that work to address hunger.

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Surprised Hiker Captures Video of Grizzly Barreling Down on Two Mountain Goats

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Grizzly bear at Glacier National Park.

GRIZZLY BEAR VIDEO: Thanks to Regina Louisa for sending in this video of grizzly bear on the Hidden Lake Overlook Trail in Glacier National Park on Saturday night.

NBC Montana இடுகையிட்ட தேதி: திங்கள், 27 ஜூலை, 2020

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We don’t blame the hiker for the wobbly video.

After all, if we were just feet away from a grizzly barreling down the mountainside in full pursuit of two mountain goats, our video might be wobbly too.

Especially because the grizzly had two paths it could take when the mountain goats split up.

One of the paths led to where the hiker stood. Luckily for the hiker, the grizzly chose to go after Mountain Goat B.

This is just another bear story in a year where bear stories seem to be popping up everywhere.

From the news that the number of grizzly attacks at this point in the season is a record-breaker  to the numerous accounts of bears being euthanized due to human encounters, to the recent court ruling that keep grizzly bears on the Endangered Species List, bears have been everywhere in the news.

Couple these events with the ever-present smartphone and if you want bears, you’ve got ’em.

And because of the technology, we get to see things like this video which came out of Glacier National Park in Montana and was sent to NBC Montana on Monday morning.

No word if the mountain goat survived. The hiker, for some reason, chose not to run after the grizzly to get the footage.

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Sam Lightner: Just A Normal Sunday With Lightning, High Winds, Baby Elk, And A Wounded Dog

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By Sam Lightner Jr., Columnist Cowboy State Daily

LANDER — Wyoming is the greatest, but it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Take last Sunday . . .

I was going climbing in the burn-area of the Little Popo Agie Canyon. Most Muggles (non-climber folks) think of rock climbing around Lander to be at either Sinks Canyon or the Wild Iris on Limestone Mountain, but we have actually been climbing in places like the Little Popo Agie and Sweetwater Rocks areas for over 30 years (60 for the latter).

This day was to be spent actually cleaning slabs of guillotine-like rock from a wall that had been damaged during the fire of 2003. Fires cook the outer surface into giant flakes of dolomite and render it unclimbable, and my plan was to clear an area so it would be safe to climb again in the future.

I was accompanied by Dasher, a spunky, 19-pound, mix of everything small and canine, and Sadee, a cross of Chocolate Lab and Healer at a manageable 35 pounds. Both pooches were a bit nervous as the Wyoming-wind was blowing pretty hard, but we all made our way up the slope to the dolomite in about half an hour.

As I began to rappel down the face, the wind caught wind of me and picked up to something Laramie and Casper people might refer to as “breezy.” I’m not real good with the Beaufort Scale, and sailing-stuff like that doesn’t mean much to rock climbers, but with the way I was swinging about  on my 9 mm rope I’d guess it was a steady 35 mph with gusts that could have been twice that. It was hard enough that I couldn’t do what I’d planned with the false sense of security that makes climbing fun. I discussed it with dogs, and we agreed it was time to call the plan off.  We high-tailed it for the truck.

Crossing the deadfall, Sadee in front and Dasher in the rear, our little team almost stepped on an elk “freshie.” No, not poop, but a calf. The cute little ball of brown with white speckles, his fur still matted from birthing fluids, was curled up in some juniper less than proper social distance away.

Sadee lunged forward as the critter wobbled up onto spindly legs. I grabbed the dogs tail but she got away, then stood next to the elk realizing it was 3 times her height. I dove for her over a log and the elk tried to take a step away.

Sadee howled, Dasher yipped, and the elk yelled “Mommy” in Wapiti. Mom must have just stepped out to go shopping or something. Anyway, the elk ran (more like “spindled”) from the obvious danger, and Sadee followed, still not knowing what she was supposed to do with this smelly deer on stilts. I finally got control of her as the elk wobbled over some logs, all the while yelling for mom.

Problem two averted, except we looked up to see a thunderstorm over the Oregon Buttes, and it was headed our way at whatever the crazy speed the wind could carry it. We picked up the pace as the rumbling got closer.

Twenty minutes later we were greeted by two pronghorn who were using the truck as a wind break. Yeah, it was blowing so hard the antelope were looking for cover. I yelled at them to go find a dip in the sage, which notified Sadee they were in the area.

Now we all know it’s illegal and wrong for dogs to chase wildlife, but the Wyoming Game and Fish should have a “Pronghorn Clause” for that law. Dogs have no more chance of catching a pronghorn, or even bothering one, than Sheriff Buford T. Justice did of catching The Bandit. Antelope could make a greyhound look like a glacier.  These two speed-goats jogged south, laughing at what lousy predators canines are, and Sadee seemed to realize how silly she looked in their dusty wake.

The would be hunter-dog was back in the truck moments later, but Dasher was reluctant. Normally wanting to be the boss of the shell, he was demanding to be in the cab of the pickup. As thunder roared overhead, I chased him around and under the truck, trying to explain in my most calming scream that we could get zapped by Thor at any moment. I eventually caught him, got him in the shell with Sadee, and the days problems were solved. Right?

Wrong.

On the way out of Pass Creek I came onto three fellow climbers headed into the Little Po. Despite obvious 307 cultural differences, they being in a Dodge pickup and me in the GMC, we had a polite chat about the conditions. They had work to do the next day and were hell bent on climbing, thunder god or not. I continued towards Highway 28.

For some reason, Dasher was staring at me through the window of the cab. It was out of character, so I pulled over to see what was up. I lifted the back hatch and the Dash-man stood on his hind legs, exposing a 2-inch puncture and gash in his lower chest. Now I understood what he was trying to tell me. It wasn’t pouring blood, but it wasn’t good, either. I grabbed him, put him in my lap, and made for the Lander Valley Animal Hospital at a pace that WyDot would not have approved of.

For those keeping count, my dogs had now assisted me in breaking three unpopular Wyoming laws that morning; two on how poorly domesticated dogs are at harassing wildlife and one, on  what is considered to be a reasonable speed on a prairie highway, when you have a tailwind. But I digress.

We zipped through the yellow lights of Main and managed to beat Doctor Lisa to the vet hospital. I haven’t done the math, but coming from Wild Iris that fast might violate a few laws of physics as well as those of the Highway Patrol. Doc Lisa greeted us with an assuring smile and asked if I would assist in the light surgery that was coming. Dasher heard this and decided the back of the truck didn’t sound so bad, but a few cc’s of Versed with a Lydocaine chaser and he was happy to have his wound irrigated and stitched up. Doc Lisa gave us some meds and we were back home by 3:30.

That’s after 5 pm to those on the east coast, so we poured some distilled Kentucky relaxant and sat down to watch the unhappiness of 2020-America flow across the tv screen.

With fires and looting in Minneapolis, L.A., Chicago, and D.C., all interspersed with a thousand more dead from disease, I was reminded how good even a hard day can be in Wyoming.

(Note: The author retains the right to claim none of this really happened if he so-needs.)

Cat Urbigkit: The Ringing of the Bells

in Cat Urbigkit/Column
3577

By Cat Urbigkit, Range Writing columnist

The gentle ringing of bells is heard by those who listen. Pastoralists around the globe have used bells on their livestock for thousands of years, and in many regions the tradition continues substantially unchanged.

I’ve heard the bells wherever I’ve traveled to rural areas of the world, from Portugal to Turkey, in Africa, Mongolia, and the American West. The bells are attached to sheep, cattle, goats, and horses, and to the livestock guardian dogs that accompany these flocks or herds. Some bells are attached with elaborately decorated collars while others dangle from simple rawhide straps. The bells may be small, made from copper or brass, or huge bells draped from the neck of an oxen or horse. The bells vary in musical tone and relay constant messages to those tending the livestock, and to others who listen.

The seasonal movement of livestock with their human tenders is called transhumance, which is practiced throughout the world. In Italian, it’s called transhumanza. Although the English language lacks a word for the multi-species social group of a pastoralist with a flock or herd and its equine and canine partners, Italians have a word for it: the morra. The bells sing the song of the morra. The sound of the bells is the music of transhumanza, and of the landscape.

Italian communities have been devastated by the coronavirus disease, and Italian citizens remain under lockdown. They’ve found wonderful ways to connect with each other even as they remain in isolation, singing from balconies and windows. In the Tuscan village of Siena, beautiful harmony was heard coming from the windows above an empty, dimly lit street.

At mid-day on Saturday, shepherds in Italy joined together in their isolation to provide the sound of hope, of thankfulness, and of mourning, as pastoralists rang their livestock bells. As word of the Italian bell-ringing spread, pastoralists, churches and communities in France, Switzerland, and Austria joined in, each in their own exile.

The bells signal locations and serve to unify those who are dispersed. They ring within a universe regardless of distinctions in religion, language, race, or ethnicity.

The timing of the pastoral bell song was somewhat symbolic. It came at the start of spring, agriculture’s season of renewal and birth. Pastoralists rang their bells from their places on farms growing food for people throughout the globe. The ringing of the bells reminds the world that they still exist and continue in this necessary mission, even as their individual messages varied.

Some rang bells in solidarity, and to thank those who work to help the sick. Some rang bells of mourning. Some rang bells to drive away the danger and sense of foreboding caused by the pandemic.

The bells rang out from the mountainsides, their sound cascading across quiet valleys and plains. Other bells rang out from balconies, bell towers, and front porches. I hear their bells here on the ranch in Wyoming’s sagebrush steppe.

I hear them, and our bells ring out in return.

#suoniamolecampane

#WeRingTheBells

Cat Urbigkit is an author and rancher who lives on the range in Sublette County, Wyoming. Her column, Range Writing, appears weekly in Cowboy State Daily. To request reprint permission or syndication of this column, email rangewritesyndicate@icloud.com.

Grand Teton Culls 3 Dozen Mountain Goats, Stops After Governor, Feds Object

in News/politics
Mountain goats
3191

By Nicole Blanchard, Cowboy State Daily

Aerial sharpshooters at Grand Teton National Park partially eradicated a herd of invasive mountain goats last weekend as Wyoming and federal officials asked the National Park Service to halt its plans.

In an email on Tuesday, park spokeswoman Denise Germann said 36 animals were killed in a helicopter operation Friday. There were approximately 100 mountain goats in the park herd. Germann said there are no additional operations planned.

Later Friday evening, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt reportedly ordered the National Park Service to “stand down” on the mountain goat cull.

In a Monday news release from Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon’s office, officials said Bernhardt halted the operation after reading a “strongly worded” letter Gordon had sent Friday to acting Grand Teton superintendent Gopaul Noojibail.

“I appreciate the excellent working relationship we have with Secretary Bernhardt and that he is willing to discuss this issue in more detail without the pressure of ongoing aerial hunting,” Gordon said in the release. “I look forward to a more fruitful conversation about better ways to address this issue in a more cooperative manner.”

Germann said Noojibail and Gordon met Tuesday to “discuss efforts to protect the native Teton Range bighorn sheep herd from going extinct.” The mountain goat cull is meant to remove the invasive species, which Germann said could potentially transmit fatal pathogens to the native bighorn sheep or compete with the sheep for territory and resources. 

“It was a productive meeting and we greatly appreciate the governor’s time and interest,” Germann said.

The aerial hunt, which was carried out by contractors, has been the subject of controversy for some time. Last month, the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission passed a resolution condemning the National Park Service’s plan. At the time, agency director Brian Nesvik said Game and Fish had “communicated several times, in multiple ways” to the National Park Service that it disagreed with the plan.

Nesvik again criticized the aerial cull on Friday in a call to Grand Teton’s Noojibail. Rather than killing the mountain goats by aerial sharpshooter, Nesvik and the agency proposed allowing hunters on the ground to remove the invasive species. Last year, Game and Fish helped thin the mountain goat herd with a hunt outside park boundaries.

On Tuesday, Nesvik said his agency would be willing to collaborate with the National Park Service moving forward.

“We remain prepared to work with Grand Teton to meet their management objectives using methods that align with the value Wyoming people have for wildlife,” Nesvik said through a spokeswoman.

Germann, the Grand Teton spokeswoman, said hunters may have a chance to further thin the herd as soon as this year.

“The National Park Service is continuing to develop a skilled volunteer culling program that could be implemented as early as this fall,” she said. “This culling program will utilize trained volunteers to remove non-native mountain goats via ground-based methods.”

Grand Teton initially planned to remove the goats in January but had to delay the operation due to snow and high winds.

Gov Gordon Applauds Halt to Mountain Goat Shoot

in News
3161

(Press Release) Governor Mark Gordon expressed his gratitude to Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt after the Secretary intervened to call off a planned mountain goat culling through aerial gunning in Grand Teton National Park. The culling was scheduled to begin last Friday.

Bernhardt’s order to “stand down” came in a phone call to Gopaul Noojibail, acting Grand Teton Park superintendent late Friday. The call was made after Governor Gordon shared with Bernhardt a strongly-worded letter sent to Noojibail Friday afternoon. In the letter the Governor criticized the Park Service’s choice to “act unilaterally aerially executing mountain goats over the State of Wyoming’s objections.”

“I appreciate the excellent working relationship we have with Secretary Bernhardt and that he is willing to discuss this issue in more detail without the pressure of ongoing aerial hunting,” Governor Gordon said. “I look forward to a more fruitful conversation about better ways to address this issue in a more cooperative manner.”

The aerial gunning operation targeted a population of mountain goats that potentially pose a threat of spreading disease to the native bighorn sheep population and compete with the sheep for habitat. 

The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission passed a resolution last month condemning the use of aerial gunning to remove mountain goats from the Targhee herd and urged Grand Teton to use skilled volunteers as the removal method. In a letter dated Jan. 28, 2019, the Department formally recommended the Park use skilled volunteers for mountain goat removal. Wyoming Game and Fish Director Brian Nesvik also made a third request to stop the plan on Friday, citing public disapproval.

“We remain prepared to work with Grand Teton to meet their management objectives using methods that align with the value Wyoming people have for wildlife,” Nesvik said.

Colorado Wolf Reintroduction: Why it Doesn’t Make Any Sense

in Cat Urbigkit/Column
2830

By Cat Urbigkit, Range Writing columnist for Cowboy State Daily

Wolf advocates are celebrating the 25-year anniversary of transplanting wolves into Yellowstone National Park and Central Idaho, at the same time the campaign heats up for the ballot-box measure to conduct a similar transplant program on Colorado’s western slope.

It’s my view that to support such efforts requires either a blissful or willful ignorance of the Endangered Species Act and the science underlying its application.

I’ve long been a fan of the Endangered Species Act’s (ESA) purpose to provide programs for the conservation of imperiled species, just as I am also a critic of efforts that leave species under federal protection long after the biological justification for doing so has ended.

The ESA isn’t meant to be a popularity contest for charismatic species; science is to be the driving factor for conservation of truly imperiled species. The act defines species to include “any subspecies of fish or wildlife or plants, and any distinct population segment of any species of vertebrate fish or wildlife which interbreeds when mature.”

It’s with the act’s noble goals in mind that I became fascinated with the distinction of unique ecological units, and how such units are defined and managed. We find these distinct ecological units in populations here in Wyoming, from the Kendall Warm Springs Dace (a fish), to the Big Piney Milkvetch (a beautiful high-elevation cushion plant).

But in terms of defining unique ecological units, definitions exist in two worlds – one in science, the other in policy. When it came to the wolf reintroduction program for Yellowstone, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service brazenly proclaimed “a wolf is a wolf” in selecting wolves from northern Canada to be placed in Yellowstone park.

The Canadian wolves came from packs located some 550-750 miles north of Yellowstone, and from a different subspecies of wolf than was native to the Yellowstone region. The National Park Service (the same agency now aerial gunning mountain goats in Grand Teton National Park because they are non-native) fully supported the move.

Wolf managers purposefully ignored the biological implications involved in selecting Canadian wolves. Since wolf reintroduction is now 25 years behind us, why should we care now? Because what comes next may have huge impacts.

There is no doubt that Mexican wolf, a subspecies of the gray wolf, is a distinct ecological unit. It primarily inhabits Mexico, but our nation’s recovery program is focused in Arizona and New Mexico.

Should voters force the release of northern gray wolves into Colorado, those transplanted wolves could pose a threat to the survival of the truly endangered Mexican wolves found to the south.

Female wolf with pups at a den in Sublette County, Wyoming in 1906. Photo by Vernon Bailey. Wyoming State Archives.

It’s a concern that scientists have written about long before the ballot measure became an issue: “Interbreeding of Northwestern wolves from Canadian sources and Mexican wolves does not represent the historical cline of body size and genetic diversity in the Southwest.

If Northwestern wolves come to occupy Mexican wolf recovery areas, these physically larger wolves are likely to dominate smaller Mexican wolves and quickly occupy breeding positions, as will their hybrid offspring. Hybrid population(s) thus derived will not contribute towards recovery because they will significantly threaten integrity of the listed entity.”

So if you are an animal advocate concerned about upholding the integrity of the ESA and actually conserving critically threatened species, you won’t be supporting the transplantation of northern wolves within such close range to Mexican wolves.

While I doubt that we will ever recover Mexican wolves in Arizona and New Mexico (Mexico provides its habitat stronghold and that is where hope resides), I have no doubt that transplantation of a more abundant and widespread northern gray wolf type into Colorado will hasten the decline of the Mexican wolf population in America.

The Northern Rockies wolf reintroduction program has become so “successful” that the transplanted wolf population has expanded to other states in the northwest, including Washington and Oregon.

Wolf expansion into Washington has become complex in that the wolf population in Washington is now composed of a combination of two specific wolf ecotypes: the coastal rainforest wolf (from coastal British Columbia and southeastern Alaska), which is declining in numbers; and the more abundant Northern Rocky Mountain (interior forest) wolves resulting from the Yellowstone reintroduction program.

The coastal wolves (sometimes called the Pacific Northwest wolves, or Alexander Archipelago wolves) are known for behavioral, morphological, and genetic differences that separate them from inland wolves. The wolves have gained fame for their reliance on salmon as a primary food source.

To further complicate the plight of distinct wolf populations like that of the Mexican wolf are red wolves – a distinct wolf species more commonly known from the failing recovery program in North Carolina, but originating in Louisiana and Texas.

While red wolves were declared functionally extinct in the wild, there have been recent discoveries of red wolves surviving in wild enclaves in both Texas and Louisiana in the last few years – survivors of remnant populations.

As the researchers note, “rediscovery of red wolf ancestry after almost 40 years introduces both positive opportunities for additional conservation action and difficult policy challenges.” But we can’t even discuss those policy challenges while wolf advocates continue with the cavalier “a wolf is a wolf” policy in public discussions.

It is possible to support wolf conservation by opposing transplants of wolves without a full understanding of the complexities involved. To learn more about the intricacies of wolf subspecies and hybridization, don’t look to propaganda presented by advocates, but check out the work of the National Academies of Science Wolf Taxonomy Committee.

Cat Urbigkit is an author and rancher who lives on the range in Sublette County, Wyoming. Her column, Range Writing, appears weekly in Cowboy State Daily. To request reprint permission or syndication of this column, email rangewritesyndicate@icloud.com.

Wind, Winter Storm Force Grand Teton to Delay Mountain Goat Cull

in News/wildlife
2694

By Nicole Blanchard, Cowboy State Daily

Several days of wind and snow in western Wyoming forced National Park Service officials to delay plans to eradicate non-native mountain goats in Grand Teton National Park, according to park spokeswoman Denise Germann.

The Park Service initially planned to close portions of Grand Teton from Jan. 5 to 12 in order to remove the mountain goats by shooting them from helicopters. Wind earlier in the week created unsafe flying conditions, Germann said on Thursday, while snow from a winter storm later in the week created further issues.

Germann said the removal will be rescheduled, though no dates have yet been determined. An environmental impact study on the removal determined efforts should be completed by early March, when park visitation is low.

Approximately 100 mountain goats dispersed into Grand Teton National Park in recent years. Germann said the animals are descendants of mountain goats released south of the park by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game for hunting purposes in the 1960s and ‘70s.

“We’ve been looking at this for the last few years,” Germann said.

National Park Service officials said the mountain goats carry pathogens that can cause pneumonia, posing a potential threat to a herd of bighorn sheep native to Grand Teton.

“(Disease transmission) has not been documented, but it is a primary concern,” Germann said. “The bighorn sheep have low genetic diversity … because they’re isolated from neighboring herds.”

Germann said using firearms from a helicopter was determined to be the most efficient way to eradicate the mountain goats.

“We’re trying to rapidly reduce their numbers,” she said.

According to the environmental impact study, National Park Service officials believe the entire population of mountain goats can be eradicated in one to five years.

“The National Park Service has a responsibility to arrange for native populations,” Germann said. “When there’s something that jeopardizes that native population, we take action.”

The National Park Service is not the only agency to address the encroaching species. Last year, Wyoming Game and Fish Department opened a new mountain goat hunting season on the west side of the Teton mountain range in an effort to allow hunters to thin the herd. Forty-eight licenses were issued.

Increased timber harvest could play role in diversified approach to wildfire prevention

in News
wildfires
2485

By Ike Fredregill, Cowboy State Daily

As catastrophic wildfires become more frequent across the West, people are looking for a single culprit, but it’s not that simple, Wyoming State Forester Bill Crapser said.

“People like to blame Smokey the Bear — that we extinguished every fire for 100 years. People like to blame lack of management from the U.S. Forest Service, saying they let our forests get into an unhealthy state. People like to blame climate change and the list goes on,” Crapser said. “Like everything, the easiest thing is to blame a single villain, but the reality is it’s probably all of that.”

A series of wildland fires racing across California caught the nation’s attention in October. 

The New York Times reported the fire threatened 90,000 buildings. 

CNBC reported 10 of the Golden State’s worst fires occurred in the last decade. 

But it was a viral “Smithsonian” magazine article about goats that caught the eye of Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower.

“Goats — grazing goats — saved the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in California,” Driskill said. “This whole country was sheep and goat country once, but nobody grazes anymore.” 

Additionally, he said reductions in timber removal allowed by federal agencies overseeing Wyoming’s public lands could put the state at risk of suffering California’s fate.

“There’s no doubt we’re in a dry cycle and fires are affected by climate change,” Driskill said. “But this was not an earth-shattering drought year in California. Our (U.S.) Forest Service logs less and less, and as they do, we’ll have larger and larger fires.”

State-owned lands

While no forest is fireproof, a healthy forest is less likely to suffer catastrophic fire damage, Crapser said.

Unlike the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and Forest Service, Crapser’s Forestry Division is a state agency.

Counting seasonal firefighters, the division has about 50 employees to cover approximately 280,000 forested acres of state-owned lands. 

A significant portion of managing forest health is targeted timber harvests, which are usually handled by private contractors, Crapser said.

“We try to do a lot of thinning to reduce the basal area — the square foot of tree cover per acre,” he explained. “That promotes wood growth, helps grasses for grazing and makes the stands more fire resistant.” 

While the division promotes the use of grazing to manage fine fuels when consulting with private land owners, cities and counties, Crapser said it does not oversee grazing on state lands.

Yellowstone

Grazing isn’t a part of the Yellowstone National Park fire management plan, but the park is warming up to the idea of using private contractors for timber management, said John Cataldo, Yellowstone’s Fire and Aviation Management officer.

“This year, we started using a masticator — it’s got a drum head that basically mulches trees up to 6-8 inches in diameter,” Cataldo said. “We were able to treat about 60 acres around the government area in West Yellowstone (Montana). That’s going to buy us about 15 years of defensibility around that community.”

By mulching smaller fuels, the masticator creates a fuel break, which could cause a crown fire in the tops of trees — widely considered the hardest fire behavior to control — to drop down to the ground where fire crews can battle the blaze.

For about $35,000 and a few months of work, the masticator completed a timber management project that could’ve taken park staff years to complete with a much higher price tag, Cataldo said. 

Masticators are in high demand throughout the National Park Service, but the agency only has one operator and a couple of machines in the region. So Yellowstone is looking to private industry for future mulching efforts.

“This year and future years as these mastication treatments expand, we’ll be going to contracts,” Cataldo said, explaining the park has not previously used private contractors for timber management outside of emergency response. “We’ve used private industry when a fire is bearing down on a community, but these are proactive, pre-planned projects.”

Private industry

In recent years, the Forest Service has ramped up timber harvest projects, but nowhere near to the levels seen prior to the 1990s, said Ben Wudtke, executive director of the Intermountain Forest Association. 

The association is a collective of private industry leaders advocating for forest management, in part, by way of timber harvests.

“During the ‘90s, we had an administration that wanted to reduce timber harvest, and it did,” Wudtke said. “The Forest Service used to harvest 12 billion board feet annually, and that dropped to 2 billion board feet.”

Under the current administration, he said the Forest Service is allowing the harvest of about 4 billion board feet a year, but 30 years later, the damage to the logging industry was done.

Driskill said, “Look around, we hardly have any sawmills around the state anymore.”

According to Crapser, about nine mid-sized sawmills operated in Wyoming prior to the harvest reduction. 

Now, there are three.    

Wudtke said the federal government’s increased interest in timber harvesting is largely due to public outcry.

“A lot of that is seeing first-hand what happens when we’re not out there working together with these agencies to take care of these lands,” he said. “We have things like catastrophic pine beetle epidemics. We have stand- and forest-replacing wildfires. We have houses and lives being lost.”

Forest management requires human intervention, Wudtke said. 

“If we don’t, mother nature will,” he added. “And we don’t always like how she goes about it.”

Mounds of data exist in support of forest management through timber harvest, Wudtke said, but preventing future catastrophic wildfires in Wyoming isn’t a one-step solution.

“I’m not sure I’d put my finger on one thing and say if they change this, it would fix things,” Wudtke said. “It’s going to take a lot of work in a lot of areas from both government agencies and the public.”

Medicine Bow

In Medicine Bow National Forest, the Forest Service uses both targeted grazing and timber management projects as preventive measures against wildfire, Forest Service spokesman Aaron Voos said.

“We just finished a vegetation project in the Lake Owen area, and we’re getting ready to start some work in the Rob Roy area as well as Fox Park,” Voos explained. “Some of it was timber sales, some was working with public utilities around water sheds to protect from impact of wildfire as well as opening access to recreation areas.”

Voos said he could only speak to Forest Service practices on the Medicine Bow National Forest, Routt National Forest and Thunder Basin National Grassland. As to the federal agency’s historic timber management practices, Voos said he could only discuss what he personally observed during his time employed.

“What I’ve observed on the Medicine Bow and Routt is we are responding to changing forest conditions,” Voos said. “That hasn’t always been the case, largely because we’ve never seen a beetle infestation of this size before.”

The Forest Service is working on the Medicine Bow Landscape Vegetation Analysis project, dubbed LaVA, through the National Environmental Policy Act process. Over the next 10 to 15 years, the project is slated to treat up to 360,000 acres of beetle-kill affected areas in the national forest with a variety of methods, including private contractors.  

“Right now, we are very fortunate there is still a market for a certain amount of the beetle-killed timber that is still standing and still available,” Voos said. 

Medicine Bow also uses grazing allotments to manage fine fuels where fires can spread wide and fast. 

“There’s constant analyzing of those grazing allotments, and it is impacted by the potential for wildfire,” Voos said.

Even with numerous federal and state projects in play statewide, Crapser said Wyoming is on course to experience increasingly disastrous wildfire seasons.

“We’re probably going to see more fires in the future and rising costs of battling fires,” he said. “We’re also seeing a lot more people in the urban-wildland interface, and that creates a lot challenges for wildfire management.”

State, national park work to limit mountain goat population

in News/wildlife
Mountain goats
2405

By Cody Beers, Cowboy State Daily

Doug McWhirter wants people to understand several things about Wyoming’s iconic mountain goat populations.

They’re cool. And they don’t belong everywhere.

“Mountain goats are fascinating, cool, and there are places we want to manage for thriving mountain goat populations,” said McWhirter, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s wildlife management coordinator in the Jackson region. “We want thriving mountain goat populations in the Snake River, Palisades and Beartooths areas.”

“We want to manage for hunting and viewing opportunities in these areas. In other places, we want to favor the core-native bighorn sheep herds in our management,” McWhirter continued. “Bottom line, we don’t hate mountain goats.”

Wyoming game managers share a concern with the National Park Service concerning a relatively new, expanding, non-native mountain goat population in Grand Teton National Park. 

The Teton Range is home to a small herd of native bighorn sheep, one of the smallest and most isolated populations in Wyoming.

The Teton Range bighorn sheep population is about 100 strong, while this new non-native mountain goat population has eclipsed 100 animals and is still growing.

The new mountain goat population is believed to have expanded from the Palisades area and into the Teton Range. The first documented reproduction of mountain goats in Grand Teton National Park was recorded in 2008. 

Now there are concerns that the mountain goat population threatens the native Teton Range bighorn sheep herd through increased risk of disease transmission, which the Palisades goats are documented to harbor, and the potential for competition for limited resources.

“The Teton Range herd of native bighorn sheep is of high conservation value to the park, adjacent land and wildlife managers, and visitors,” said Denise Germann, Grand Teton National Park public affairs officer. “Our intent is to remove the non-native population of mountain goats and to maintain and improve viability of the native Teton bighorn sheep herd.”

The Game and Fish Department, assisted by hunters, is doing its part to manage the park’s mountain goat population in 2019. Liberalized hunting seasons were implemented outside of the park, in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest’s Jedediah Smith Wilderness.

“We’re doing what we can to address the situation in goat hunt area 4,” McWhirter said.

In the hunt area, the once-in-a-lifetime draw for mountain goat licenses was set aside. Instead, to help manage the mountain goat population, the department set a quota of 48 licenses for the 2019 season.

McWhirter checked a harvested mountain goat last week from area 4, and it marked the 21st harvested goat of the season. 

“Without exception, the hunters I have encountered have been very supportive,” McWhirter said. “They have appreciated the opportunity  to harvest a mountain goat, and to try to conserve bighorn sheep populations in the Tetons.”

The Teton bighorn sheep herd, “during the times we’ve been monitoring numbers, has never been huge. There’s about 100 to 125 sheep there,” McWhirter said. “They don’t migrate. They live at high populations all year, and they are subject to harsh conditions. These new non-native mountain goats are bringing additional mouths to the landscape, and we believe this peer competition could adversely affect the sheep.

“The bighorn sheep are doing OK in the Tetons,” McWhirter continued. “They’ve always been living on the edge, and besides the non-native goats, there are issues, too, with expanding backcountry winter skiing. The pressures on those sheep are making it tougher for their survival.”

Details aren’t certain yet, but Grand Teton National Park is considering removing the non-native mountain goats from within its boundaries — specifically, between Cascade and Snowshoe canyons — by lethal and non-lethal methods this winter.

“Without swift and active management, the mountain goat population is expected to continue to grow and expand its distribution within the park,” Germann said. “The mountain goat population is at a size where complete removal is achievable in a short time, however, the growth rate of this population suggests that complete removal in the near future may become unattainable after a period of about three years.”

Mountain goat hunting inside the park itself, or what the National Park Service refers to as the “use of skilled volunteers,” is the newest idea for mountain goat removal in the Tetons. 

“Qualified volunteers is a tool that may be used, but we have not developed this program,” Germann said.

Where Grand Teton National Park currently authorizes hunting, park officials refer to the practice as a “reduction program.” 

Rules are generally more restrictive for hunters in Grand Teton National Park, but the hunting is done by hunters licensed by the state Game and Fish Department.

The concept of using “skilled volunteers,” or hunters, is new since the national park issued an environmental assessment on the issue last December. Plans then called for National Park Service staff or contractors to kill goats from the ground with rifles, and from helicopters with shotguns. These early plans called for leaving the carcasses where the animals fell.

In March, the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act passed Congress. Part of the bill addressed wildlife management in national parks.

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, stated, “if the (Interior) Secretary determines it is necessary to reduce the size of a wildlife population … the Secretary may use qualified volunteers to assist in carrying out wildlife management on [park] system land.”

Grand Teton National Park officials cited the Dingell act in their “finding of no significant impact” decision, which was signed by Acting Park Service Regional Director Palmer Jenkins in September.”

The desire is to quickly and efficiently remove non-native mountain goats from the park,” Germann said.

“Our big things, in our comments, are that we would like to see all efforts exhausted before ‘agency lethal removal’ is the answer,” McWhirter said. “We really appreciate the Park Service addressing our concerns, and allowing skilled volunteers to participate and help with the conservation of these goats. It’s all about trying to make a bad situation more tolerable.”

Elk hunting outlook good, deer hunting ‘mixed bag,’ says G&F report

in News/Recreation/wildlife
2021

By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily

Fall is in the air and it’s the time of year when hunters around Wyoming are finalizing their plans for a successful hunting season. The Wyoming Game & Fish Department  has prepared a fall forecast of its eight regions to make planning much easier. 

The WGFD uses a map to define the eight regions identified as Cody, Sheridan, Jackson, Pinedale, Lander, Casper, Green River, and Laramie. 

The hunting season outlook in each region for the big three game animals — pronghorn antelope, deer and elk — is covered in the forecast, along with information on other species. 

Antelope

According to the report, pronghorn populations are up in the Casper, Green River, and Laramie regions, while in Sheridan and Cody, the populations remain stable. Although lower populations have been recorded in Pinedale, the limited number of licenses issued should mean success rates will be high, the report said. In Casper, populations are average. A GPS collar tracking program is set for the winter of 2019-20 to provide better information to Pronghorn Managers.   

Deer

The outlook for deer hunting is a “mixed bag,” according to the WGFD forecast. Although a successful hunting season is expected for the Big Horn Basin, most deer populations in Wyoming are down due to the severe winter of 2016-17. However, the Pinedale and Cody regions are seeing large populations and high quality hunting opportunities, with Cody herds expanding into new areas and habitats.

Elk

Elk hunting should be good, the report said. Populations increased in Casper, Cody, Green River, Laramie and Sheridan, with Sheridan’s populations being high due to limited hunter access to private land. The Lander and Pinedale populations remain steady in almost all areas.

The WGFD Fall 2019 Forecast also has information on moose, big horn sheep, mountain goats, bison, upland game birds and small game, including turkey and migratory game birds. 

For complete information you can read the full forecast at the WGFD website.

Are “Guard Coyotes” A Thing?

in Cat Urbigkit/Column/Range Writing
Guard coyotes
A coyote paruses the Wyoming range. (Photo credit: Cat Urbigkit)
1993

By Cat Urbigkit, Range Writing columnist for Cowboy State Daily

Predator-prey systems (including predator-livestock conflicts) are complicated, multi-faceted, and site-specific, but an Oregon Extension publication has provided a broad solution for those of us in animal agriculture, virtually eliminating the need for lethal control of predators: Keeping well-behaved breeding pairs of coyotes in place in their territories to exclude other coyotes that may kill sheep. Thus, keeping these “guard coyotes” and “guard wolves” in place serves to protect our livestock.

Using Coyotes to Protect Livestock. Wait. What?” is the title of an article posted by the Oregon State University Extension Service that has garnered much attention (and is widely shared among animal activists) but its claims have received little scrutiny. The Oregon paper is rife with oversimplification and omissions, but I’ll limit myself to a few points that are important since they form the premise of the entire piece.

Oregon Extension dives into the issue by citing a USDA study as claiming “researchers found that as more predators were removed, more livestock were killed.” Now that’s an interesting slant, and it’s absolutely true: the researchers did find that more predators were removed and more livestock were killed. To Oregon Extension writer, that apparently means that when you remove predators, more livestock are killed. So the message given to the masses is that “Coyotes can protect your livestock from predators” and we should all be protecting our livestock with these “guard coyotes.”

But what the USDA paper actually stated was this: “There is a strong correlation (probably causative) between predator-livestock conflicts and the subsequent removal of predators.” That makes sense: predators are removed in response to conflicts. It doesn’t claim that because predators are killed there are increased conflicts with livestock.

And what both the USDA paper and the Oregon Extension article fail to mention that the wolf population that was the subject of the USDA paper had increased 336% during that same time period, from 152 to 663 animals. The truth is that as the predator population increased, so did the number of livestock killed by wolves, as did the number of wolves killed in response to depredations. Leaving out this important fact changes the entire narrative.

It reminds me of the fun research paper published in a major medical journal last year in which researchers concluded that parachute use did not significantly reduce death or major injury when compared with an empty backpack if you have to jump from an aircraft. What’s important to know about the parachute study is that the people who jumped from the aircraft in the study did so while the aircraft were parked on the ground, jumping about two feet. If we omitted this fact, the entire narrative would be different.

The Oregon writer then focused on a 13-year study at the University of California Hopland Research and Extension Center, claiming “researchers found that trapping of coyotes did not reduce sheep losses.” What the researchers actually found was this: “the number of sheep killed and kill rates decreased with increasing numbers of coyotes removed.”

But the Oregon writer then added, “In fact, scientists found that as trappers worked more hours, more lambs were killed by predators.” What the researchers actually found was “There was a positive correlation between the number of lambs killed per year and number of trapper hours worked” per year, and “There was also a positive correlation between the number of coyotes removed per year and number of trapper hours worked” per year. Sounds a lot different when all the facts are presented, doesn’t it? Context is important.

Coyote in Wyoming. (Photo credit Cat Urbigkit)
Coyote surveys a snowy meadow in Sublette County, Wyoming. (Photo credit Cat Urbigkit)

But the Oregon writer plucks a few sentences from a detailed research paper, while ignoring the all-important context. Broad statements, including “Most coyotes do not kill sheep” are not accompanied by citations or context. And although the Oregon writer claimed that sheep are “usually ignored by adult coyotes in an unexploited, stable population,” the Hopland researchers found “All breeding pairs in territories with access to sheep eventually killed sheep” – regardless of whether these pairs successfully bred or whelped pups. The researchers also noted that at Hopland, “all pairs with access to sheep eventually killed sheep, suggesting it is unlikely that there are nonkilling pairs when sheep are present year-round.”

But according to Oregon Extension, with the use of a proper nonlethal program, “lethal control should not be necessary except as a last resort to selectively target and kill a demonstrably habituated, dangerous, or chronically depredating individual.”

Such broad statements lack credibility. Even the scientific literature cited by the Oregon author don’t make such claims. One paper noted regional differences in sheep production and coyote depredation, suggesting “preventative, selective removal of breeding female coyotes prior to whelping, but too late for replacements to breed, may be the most effective lethal control strategy” in the Intermountain West where the spring-summer lambing season coincides with pup-rearing. In contrast, “corrective, selective removal of breeders in response to depredations may be the only effective approach to coyote control” in north-coastal California where sheep are present in pastures year-round and the lambing season begins in late fall.

When I read the Oregon Extension piece, I wondered how such a piece had made it past fact-checkers. I hadn’t heard of the author, so I did an online search and found he is a member of the Benton County, Oregon team advising area ranchers on nonlethal methods of predator control.

Four of the six program advisors are affiliated with Project Coyote, the California “compassionate conservation” organization seeking to change human attitudes towards coyotes, wolves “and other misunderstood predators by replacing ignorance and fear with understanding, respect and appreciation.” These are the people telling livestock producers how we are to successfully coexist with predators.

I am offended when those who know little or nothing about animal agriculture and specific conditions in the field try to tell me how to run my ranch. Now consider how my fellow producers will feel when they learn their advisors weren’t being entirely truthful in the first place. Lying by omission is knowingly peddling a storyline to drive a false narrative.

Now that I’ve added some context to the “guard predator” hypothesis, I’ll add that there is some validity to the concept, which has been oversimplified nearly to the point of unrecognition by the Oregon Extension piece. We’ve left non-depredating coyotes in place on our home place, and watched their numbers grow to a pack of seven adults that hunted pronghorn antelope on their crucial winter range. We left the pack in place until the next spring when they took to killing lambs on our lambing grounds. We’ve done the same with a local wolf pack – they’ve left our well-guarded sheep alone for now, but I know it’s only a matter of time before the quiet is once again broken.

I’ll take livestock guardian dogs over guard coyotes and wolves any day.

Cat Urbigkit is an author and rancher who lives on the range in Sublette County, Wyoming. Her column, Range Writing, appears weekly in Cowboy State Daily. To request reprint permission or syndication of this column, email rangewritesyndicate@icloud.com.

The Decline of the Whiskey Mountain Bighorns

in Cat Urbigkit/Column/Range Writing/wildlife
Big Horn Sheep
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By Cat Urbigkit, Range Writing columnist for Cowboy State Daily

The Whiskey Mountain bighorn sheep herd has made Dubois, Wyoming an international stop for people interested in this species of mountain royalty, with many residents keep spotting scopes trained on the hillsides above town for constant sheep viewing. This rustic western community also hosts the National Bighorn Sheep Center.

Whiskey Mountain once held the largest concentration of wintering bighorn sheep in the country, but the herd began to decline in the 1970s. In 1975, researchers found the sheep herd was consuming more than 90 percent of the annual vegetative growth on its wintering grounds, and herd members were afflicted with poor health, indications that there was inadequate forage and the herd had overpopulated its range.

Those researchers (led by the late and sorely missed wildlife veterinarian Dr. Tom Thorne of the Wyoming Game & Fish Department) predicted that any added environmental stress could result in a catastrophic disease outbreak, which came true in the early 1990s. The population has continued to struggle since that time, with the herd currently numbering about 400 animals.

Although the herd is now only utilizing less than half the annual forage growth on its winter range, there continue to be indications that the herd is subject to some unknown nutritional stress on its summer range.

According to the draft management plan for this herd, “Underpinning the nutritional issued identified in this herd is now the persistence of bacteria and other pathogens believed to have serious health repercussions for the population.”

The herd has multiple species of bacteria related to pneumonia in bighorn sheep, as well as sinus tumors, and other diseases and parasites.

“At this point managers do not know if poor sheep health in the Whiskey Mountain Bighorn Sheep herd is strictly due to pathogens and parasites or if the persistence of pathogens and parasites is the result of nutritional stress,” according to the draft plan.

Domestic sheep and goats have traditionally been blamed for bighorn sheep die-offs, regardless of whether there was any documented contact between wild and domestic sheep.

In this case, “when and how bacterial pathogens were introduced to the bighorn sheep population is unknown, but it is likely environmental stress associated with severe winter conditions resulted in the disease outbreak and die-off event.”

The last known record of domestic sheep use in the Whiskey Mountain area was in the early 1960s, and all domestic sheep and goat grazing has been banned on the area of the Shoshone National Forest used by this herd – even the use of pack goats. Despite there being no domestic sheep in the herd area for decades, the draft plan calls for the Wyoming Game & Fish Department (WG&F) to work with the National Bighorn Sheep Center to “develop a strategy to provide educational materials to domestic sheep or goat owners” and to coordinate with federal agencies on the need to maintain separation between wild sheep and domestic sheep and goats.

In my view, that’s pretty much a waste of time and money: As if there is a domestic sheep producer in the West that hasn’t heard this refrain before. It would be far more suitable to invite wool growers to the table rather than having bighorn sheep advocates trying to tell domestic sheep producers how to manage their flocks. Sheep producers know that there are a variety of ways of keeping bighorns and domestic flocks separated, but some bighorn advocates view ridding the range of domestic sheep as the only way to ensure separation, setting the two up for conflict rather than working together.

In addition, new research on a pathogen known to cause pneumonia in bighorn sheep has been recently been documented to occur in moose, mule deer, white-tailed deer, antelope, and caribou. But WG&F maintains that these other species are not a component of the bighorn problem.

The presence of a new wolf pack on Whiskey Mountain has added a new pressure to the mix for the bighorn herd. The increased wolf activity has changed the behavior and distribution of the bighorn herd on its winter range, with the herd shifting up the mountain, into higher-elevation, less accessible, and more rugged terrain as the wolves have moved onto the lower-range winter habitat for the sheep, and the area elk population has also moved down onto traditional sheep winter range. The draft plan notes that while direct predation on sheep hasn’t been observed to be an issue, “the displacement being caused by wolves adds another potential stressor to an already nutritionally and conditionally stressed population.”

WG&F has started a three-year research project aimed at understanding lamb mortality and assessing summer habitat conditions, with the WG&F Commission kicking in $350,000 for the first year. Since much of the herd’s summer range is within the Fitzpatrick Wilderness, the U.S. Forest Service has agreed to approve the study components, including backcountry camps, experimental habitat treatments, and the use of a helicopter to capture bighorns in the wilderness area.

WG&F will hold two workshops this week to discuss the draft plan, which can be found at this link. The first workshop will be held June 5, at 6 p.m. at the Dubois Headwaters Arts and Conference Center, and the second will be June 6, at 6 p.m. in the WG&F’s Pinedale office.

Cat Urbigkit is an author and rancher who lives on the range in Sublette County, Wyoming. Her column, Range Writing, appears weekly in Cowboy State Daily.

Cooperation, or Coercion? Navigating the minefield of stewarding rare animals

in Cat Urbigkit/Column/Range Writing/wildlife
Western Wyoming burrowing owls
A pair of burrowing owls at their nesting burrow on a western Wyoming ranch.
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By Cat Urbigkit, Range Writing columnist for Cowboy State Daily

Monitoring comes naturally to ranchers, even though we may not consider much of our daily habits as such. We monitor a variety of natural resources or resource components on a regular basis, from irrigation levels, weather, grazing distribution and utilization, and plant diversity, to breeding dates, conception rates, and desirable herd characteristics.

Many ranchers participate in structured rangeland monitoring in conjunction with federal land managers – a program that began as a cooperative venture for some, but expanded due to threats from anti-grazing activists. Instead of volunteering to work together toward a shared goal of sustainable use of vegetative resources, grazing permittees and agencies were effectively coerced into participation.

But ranchers monitor many other resources independent of agency support or oversight. The popularity of camera traps (trail cameras, game cameras) has opened up new realms for monitoring. Cameras are now used to monitor vehicles accessing ranch-owned gravel pits, and to document trespassers ignoring posted property boundaries. 

With increased public concern about rare species in Wyoming, some ranchers have developed their own monitoring programs to inventory for species occurrence, seasonal use, and habits of these species on their properties. It’s good to know and understand the wild species that share your range, but sadly, ranchers have little incentive to share that data with wildlife managers. That’s because rather than celebrating the occurrence of previously undocumented sage grouse leks, breeding pairs of short-eared and flammulated owls, nesting long-billed curlews, small populations of pygmy rabbits, or any of a long list of federally listed, proposed, or candidate species of concern, private landowners fear that acknowledging the presence of these species only opens the door to more coercion.

That’s a shame, because the detection of rare species on private property should be celebrated – these landowners should be proud that their stewardship includes sustaining these species. Instead, property owners keep quiet, fearful that detection of these rare species only brings restrictions on their property rights and use.

I’m part of a small group of ranchers who work together in an informal wildlife monitoring program for our neighboring parcels, using camera traps as its main component. Our program aims to help in protecting our livestock herds by knowing and understanding the movement and frequency of large carnivores in our neighborhood.

Every year ranchers get requests from wildlife managers or researchers requesting permission to access private property to observe wild animal numbers, survey for rare species, document migration routes, etc. Although we may be inclined to want to cooperate, often we need to say no, and that’s because what is being requested isn’t actual cooperation. Sometimes the data collected is later used to impose restrictions on private property.

I’m a member of an international network focused on human-wildlife conflict research. Last week one network participant explained in a group email that a non-governmental organization (NGO) had installed an electric fence to prevent black bears from preying on goats held in the pen. One of the cameras installed on the fence captured a video of a mountain lion jumping the fence and killing a goat. Not surprisingly, the farmer wants a copy of the video. Also not surprisingly, the NGO is now questioning how it should handle such a request.

I suspect that the NGO wouldn’t be asking such questions had the fence succeeded in deterring predators, and would instead be happily sharing video footage of a predator getting zapped by the fence and running from the scene. 

Instead, the NGO wants to learn if there are protocols or guidelines for the sharing of such information with the public. While none of the researchers who responded offered such a guideline, one Canadian-based researcher noted, “I can see potential ethical issues (e.g. would sharing induce some sort of conflict or misuse of the data by the landowner, could it be used as evidence to illicit intensified predator control, etc.).”

This researcher’s response provides a prime example of why some ranchers won’t cooperate in wildlife research and monitoring programs. The notion that data should be controlled or censored because it had an undesirable outcome to the researcher is appalling. That the livestock owner could use the data to seek intensified control shouldn’t be viewed as a negative – the negative is that despite increased efforts at protecting his livestock, predators continued to succeed at killing his goats.

I also noticed the researcher’s Freudian slip in the use of “illicit” (as in forbidden), when the proper verbiage is “solicit” (as in to ask for or try to obtain) when suggesting predator control.

Cooperation is the process of working together to the same end. It’s not cooperation if it’s one-sided.

Cat Urbigkit is an author and rancher who lives on the range in Sublette County, Wyoming. Her column, Range Writing, appears weekly in Cowboy State Daily.

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