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C.J. Box’s “Big Sky” Renewed For Six More Episodes

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Six more episodes of “Big Sky,” the ABC series adapted from C.J. Box’s book “The Highway,” have been ordered by the network, the author announced on Wednesday.

“For those of you asking if/when #BigSky will be coming back…” the Wyoming author wrote in a post on Wednesday morning, linking to a Deadline article detailing the six episode order.

The additional episodes will bring the series to 16 episodes in total, which is not too shabby for a brand new show premiering in the midst of a pandemic.

The series, created by “Big Little Lies” showrunner David E. Kelley, follows private detective Cassie Dewell, played by Kylie Bunbury, and ex-cop Jenny Hoyt, played by Katheryn Winnick, who join forces to search for two sisters who have been kidnapped by a truck driver on a remote highway in Montana.

When they discover that these are not the only girls who have disappeared in the area, they must race against the clock to stop the killer before another woman is taken.

Box previously told a Denver news station that he got the idea for the story from a personal experience, after his daughter came home to Cheyenne from the University of Wyoming for Thanksgiving.

“When she arrived at our house, I went out to check her car and the ‘check engine’ light was on,” he said. “And I asked her, how long has that been on because I knew how much traffic was on that road. And her answer was, ‘Don’t worry, it’s always on.’”

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Wolverine Spotted in Yellowstone

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Yellowstone National Park biologists discovered something rare last month when looking through trail camera footage: a wolverine.

The wolverine (the animal, not the arguably best member of the X-Men) was spotted running through the Mammoth Hot Springs area and managed to trigger a remote trail camera.

Footage of the wolverine was posted to the Yellowstone Twitter account on Wednesday morning. A user asked how rare it was to find a wolverine in the park.

“The last population estimate was 7 in the park!” the Yellowstone account responded.

According to the Yellowstone website, commercial trapping and predator control efforts substantially reduced wolverine distribution in the lower 48 states by the 1930s.

In the greater Yellowstone area, wolverines have been studied using live traps, telemetry, and aerial surveys.

Of the seven wolverines known to be in the park, two are females and five are males, according to the most recent population estimates.

Climate change models predict that by 2050, the spring snowpack needed for wolverine denning and hunting will be limited to portions of the southern Rocky Mountains, the Sierra Nevada range and greater Yellowstone.

Wolverines are so rarely seen and inhabit such remote terrain at low densities that assessing population trends is difficult and sudden declines could go unnoticed for years.

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Devils Tower Sees Record Visitation Numbers This Year Despite Pandemic

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Devils Tower National Monument has seen record monthly visitation numbers this year despite being closed for nearly two months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Devils Tower hosted 9,005 recreation visits in November, up 110% from November 2019. This was the busiest November on record and the third month in row of record visitation at the Tower.

Through November, the park recorded 420,330 recreation visits for 2020, down just 7% from the same period in 2019 despite the fact the country’s first national monument was closed from March 25 through May 21 due to health and safety concerns related to the pandemic.

Beginning in August, park visitation increased rapidly, with September, October and November seeing record visitor numbers.

Early winter visitation has continued to follow the upward trend, even though the season is typically very quiet, monument officials said.

The list below shows month to month recreation visits for the period between August through November compared to the same time in 2019.

August
2019 – 100,207
2020 – 113,593

September – record visitation
2019 –62,469
2020 – 68,726

October – record visitation
2019 –17,290
2020 – 29,908

November – record visitation
2019 – 4,294
2020 – 9,005

Visitors are encouraged to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for face coverings, physical distancing, and hand washing while visiting Devils Tower.

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The Perfect New Year’s Story With A Local Wyoming Twist

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A tribute to the famous Scottish poet Robert Burns was presented Wednesday afternoon at Cheyenne Rotary.  

Twin recording stars Amy Smith Meier of Cheyenne and Annie Smith Jackson of Nashville presented a tribute to their father Clark Arthur Smith of Cheyenne who passed away earlier this year. 

He was a great, great, great nephew of the great Scottish Poet Robert Burns. Hie grandmother Laura Burns is a descendant of Gilbert, Robert Burn’s brother.

Burns was famous for many things but this focuses on the New Year’s song Auld Lang Syne, which means “Old Long Since.” 

The sisters created and played this video to the members of the Rotary and agreed to share it with Cowboy State Daily.

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Sublette County Sheriff Releases Footage Of Daring Rescue In Icy Water

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Sublette County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday released the body camera footage of the rescue of a man and two dogs trapped inside a truck that crashed into the Green River this weekend.

In the video, one of the officers can be heard talking with the man in the truck, assuring him that more medical and emergency personnel were on their way. The truck is submerged in the river and can be seen slowly sinking deeper and deeper.

“Just keep talking to me,” the officer yells to the driver. “Do you have any injuries?”

The man can be heard saying something back to her, but it is unclear what he is saying.

She tells the driver to continue talking to her and asks if there is anyone else in the vehicle with him, but the officer can’t hear what he is saying.

The rescue occurred after Sublette County officials received a call at about 10 p.m. Sunday about a truck in the Green River near Reardon Draw.

Deputies and other medical personnel immediately responded, along with Tip Top Search and Rescue, as the vehicle was reportedly partially submerged in the icy water with the driver still inside.

Around three minutes into the video, which was edited for brevity’s sake, ambulance and fire personnel arrive on the scene.

“Try to move to the back of the truck. Pick your head up, let me see you,” the officer tells the man in the truck.

About a minute later, the officer tells her colleagues that she can see the driver with her flashlight. Around five minutes into the video, the man can be seen climbing out of the back window of the truck.

“It’s so cold,” he can be heard saying while standing in the back of the truck.

“We’ve got you, we’ll get you out. I’ve got blankets here,” the officer responds, adding that there is a dog in the vehicle.

She then offers up a rope to firefighters on the scene, who then form a line to offer the man an extension, as well as pull him to safety.

The driver is briefly seen at the end of the video, before being taken to medical personnel.

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Sublette County Officers, Search And Rescue Save Man and Two Dogs From Icy Water

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Sublette County Sheriff’s Office and Tip Top Search and Rescue Team announced on Tuesday that they rescued a person and two dogs from icy water over the weekend.

Around 10 p.m. on Sunday, a call came into Sublette County dispatch about a truck in the Green River near Reardon Draw, according to a news release.

Deputies and other medical personnel immediately responded, along with Tip Top Search and Rescue, as the vehicle was reportedly partially submerged in the icy water with the driver still in it.

TipTop volunteers certified and trained in both ice rescue and swift water rescue responded with their gear.

Prior to the arrival of the Swift water team, SCSO deputies and Sublette County Unified Fire safely assisted the driver out of the vehicle using a ladder which extended from the ice built up next to the bank to the bed of the truck.

Tip Top members were then tasked with the rescue of two dogs still in the cab. After several attempts, the search and rescue team was able to bring both dogs to safety.

It took several attempts to attach a winch to the truck’s frame, as it was completely under water by this point, and a second tow truck was called in to help pull the vehicle out of the water.

It was not clear how long it took the pull the truck out of the water, but according to the release, the mission was completed safely.

The driver was taken to the Pinedale Medical Clinic to be evaluated.

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Cody ‘Bird Lady’ Devotes Herself To Helping Injured Birds

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

At Ironside Bird Rescue, Susan Ahalt has seen a lot. Birds electrocuted, hit by cars, injured by other animals. 

But what pains her the most is when she gets a call that a bird has been deliberately hurt by a person.

For the last 34 years, Ahalt has run the only bird rescue operation in the state of Wyoming that accepts all birds and small mammals, not just raptors. 

Last week, Ahalt received a call about a crow with a broken wing in Thermopolis — and Susan said she was disappointed when it was determined that the bird had been shot.

“There are two bones between your wrist and your elbow. It destroyed the bone right in the middle and his left wrist,” she explained. “So I couldn’t save the wing, and I did humanely euthanize him.”

But that wasn’t the end of the story.

“And then two days later, I was brought an adult male red-tail hawk from Thermopolis — from within a block of where that crow came from,” Ahalt said. “And when I took him in to get him X-rayed, he has an air pistol pellet in his shoulder.”

Ahalt has been the Bighorn Basin’s “Bird Lady” for almost 35 years. She has devoted her life to taking care of injured birds of all breeds. And she said that while these types of deliberate human-inflicted injuries don’t happen very often, she has the full support of local sheriff’s departments and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department when they do occur.

“We have the best Game and Fish people in the world in this state,” Ahalt said. “The guys in Sheridan will drive and meet me halfway. They’ll meet me in Shell, they’ll meet me at Observation Point, they’ll drive them all the way here.”

In the case of the crow and the hawk that were shot in Thermopolis, Ahalt said the word is out and officials hope to catch whoever is shooting innocent birds.

“This has been reported to the Game and Fish, has been reported to the cops, and anybody who has seen my Facebook page, or the Hot Springs County’s, are all going to be on the lookout for somebody,” she said.

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Rock Springs Christmas Parade Restores Hope, Resiliency

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By Hannah and Lisa Romero, Rock Springs Rocket-Miner

The Rock Springs Chamber of Commerce hosted the Annual Lighted Holiday Parade in Historic Downtown Rock Springs on Saturday evening. 

This year’s parade theme, Christmas Needs More Cowboys, was selected to demonstrate triumph and resiliency.

The past year has been challenging due to the coronavirus pandemic, but Chamber CEO Rick Lee said our community has long demonstrated its ability to rise above adversity and work together for combined success.

“Our people are known to be tough, but also very compassionate and when challenges arise,” Lee said on the chamber’s Facebook page.

“We pull together, cowboy up and always end up stronger and better. This year’s parade is dedicated to the amazing people of Sweetwater County who have demonstrated great resiliency and have triumphed over our common enemy and the numberless challenges of the time.”

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Wyoming’s Favorite Holiday Treat Is Eggnog

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

According to a recently published, very scientific report, Wyoming’s favorite holiday treat is eggnog.

However, we can’t confirm if the preferred eggnog includes bourbon or if people are just out here drinking this weird milk punch plain.

This is all according to career resource website Zippia, which analyzed Google trend results across all 50 states to find each one’s favorite holiday treat. In the event of two (or more) dishes tying for a state, the dessert with the highest search volume was chosen.

Turns out, a lot of states are eating a ton of cheesecake during the holidays. We were not aware cheesecake is a holiday-only treat, and it would seem that there are many more holidays celebrated at our house than we feel comfortable sharing.

Residents in a total of nine states, including Arkansas, Florida and Michigan, are searching for the best cheesecake recipes during the holiday season. However, Wisconsinites seem to be into Andes peppermints this time of year.

Delaware and Vermont are checking out chocolate chip cookies for the holidays, and again, we apparently celebrate a LOT of holidays if these are a holiday-only treat.

To be fair, Wyoming could have chosen a worse treat: fruitcake, which both Carolinas picked as their favorite.

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Man Who Discovered Fenn Treasure Reveals Himself

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The mysterious person who discovered the late author Forrest Fenn’s buried treasure has identified himself.

Jack Stuef, a 32-year-old Michigan man and medical student, has revealed his identity in a new profile with Outside magazine.

He said he decided to identify himself as the treasure’s finder because of lawsuits being filed against him and Fenn’s estate by others who claim they are the real finders of the treasure.

Stuef told the magazine he first found out about Fenn’s treasure hunt in 2018.

Fenn in 2010 hid a chest filled with gold, jewels and artifacts somewhere in the Rocky Mountains.

poem in Fenn’s book “The Thrill of the Chase: A Memoir” included nine clues on where to find the treasure. Fenn said the treasure was contained in a 12th-century bronze chest that weighed 20 pounds by itself and was filled with 22 pounds of gold coins, gold nuggets and other valuables.

The treasure was found in early June after more than 10 years of being hidden. A previous report only said that the treasure finder was an anonymous man from “back East” who sent Fenn a picture of the chest to prove he actually found it.

Stuef said he found the chest in early June somewhere in Wyoming (he did not reveal the location), and drove down to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to meet with Fenn and prove he discovered the chest.

Fenn died earlier this year, not long after the treasure was found.

At least four people died in search of Fenn’s treasure over the years.

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