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Two Major Wildfires Burning In Western Wyoming, Big Horn Mountains

in News/wildfire
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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Smoke and haze – that’s been the rule for the skies of western Wyoming for the last week.

According to weather officials, most of the smoke is coming from wildfires in California, Oregon and Washington.

However, two fires large enough to be listed on the national InciWeb database are burning in Wyoming.

The Shale Creek fire in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, involving about 189 acres, was first reported July 16 and is expected to be fully contained by Saturday.

The fire, burning in remote and rugged terrain east of the Hams Fork River, has forced the closure of some access trails and forest roads by Bridger-Teton National Forest officials.

The Crater Ridge Fire, however, continued to grow in a remote area of the Bighorn National Forest, covering 564 acres as of Sunday with no containment of the flames reported.

The lightning-caused Crater Ridge Fire is located in an area heavily used for recreation. Numerous travel trailers are located in the area, which is about 30 miles northeast of Lovell.

The U.S. Forest Service closed much of the Bighorn National Forest north of Wyoming Highway 14 and east of the Big Horn-Sheridan county line.

Firefighting officials leadership are making long-term plans for full suppression of the Crater Ridge fire. Existing hazards, including difficult access, heavy fuels and steep terrain, are preventing fire personnel from working directly along the fire’s edge. 

In addition to the two large events, there have been other, smaller fires reported on the Shoshone National Forest in the past week, according to Kristie Salzmann, spokesperson for the agency.

“There were a few one-tenth acre fires on the Shoshone,” she told Cowboy State Daily, “But our firefighters were able to quickly contain them; so they did not meet the threshold of being added to Inciweb.”

One of the three smaller fires was discovered on Monday, July 19, west of Meeteetse approximately one-half mile from the Timber Creek Ranger Station on the Greybull Ranger District of the Shoshone National Forest.

A second fire was caused by a lightning strike in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Area on the Clarks Fork Ranger District, one-half mile east of Willow Park and north of the Pilot Creek gravel pit. It was reported on July 21.

Another fire reported on July 21 was in the Brent Creek area on the Wind River Ranger District. 

“Responding firefighters hiked into the Tappan Creek area to find a single tree had been ignited by lightning,” said Wind River District Ranger Jeff von Kienast. “Their quick actions to contain the fire kept it from growing any larger in our dry conditions.”

Acting Shoshone National Forest Fire Management Officer Clint Dawson urged residents and visitors to use extreme caution. “Everyone who is spending time on public lands this summer should continue to do everything they can to lessen the chances of fires.”

Shoshone National Forest Supervisor Lisa Timchak echoed that warning.

“We anticipate this summer to be a long one for our firefighters and are thankful that our understanding public is helping keep human-caused fires to a minimum.”

Stage 1 Fire Restrictions have been implemented across the entire Shoshone National Forest. 

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98 New Coronavirus Cases In Wyoming Friday; 99 Recoveries, 802 Active

in News/Coronavirus
12228

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily.

Wyoming’s active coronavirus increased by 11 to end the week. 

Wyoming Department of Health figures showed that the department received reports Friday of 99 recoveries among those with confirmed or probable cases. 

At the same time, the state reported 98 new laboratory-confirmed and 12 new probable cases, leaving Wyoming with 802 active cases, the first time since Feb. 11 the state has recorded more than 800 active cases.

Laramie County continued to have the highest number of active cases at 246. Sweetwater had 66; Uinta 57; Campbell 50; Fremont 48; Natrona 47; Teton 38; Converse 37; Carbon 30; Platte 26; Lincoln 25; Albany 24; Goshen and Sublette 20; Park 16; Washakie 11; Big Horn 10; Weston eight; Hot Springs and Johnson seven; Sheridan 6; Niobrara two, and Crook one.

Active cases are determined by adding the total confirmed and probable coronavirus cases diagnosed since the illness first surfaced in Wyoming on March 12, 2020, subtracting the number of recoveries during the same period among patients with both confirmed and probable cases and taking into account the number of deaths attributed to the illness.

The new confirmed and probable cases brought to 64,251 the number of people diagnosed with coronavirus since the first case was detected in Wyoming in March 2020. 

Of those, 62,683 have recovered.

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93% Of Wyoming’s COVID Hospitalizations Are People Who Aren’t Fully Vaccinated

in News/Coronavirus
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Around 93% of Wyoming’s latest coronavirus-related hospitalizations have occurred among people who aren’t fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, the Wyoming Department of Health said Friday.

As of Thursday, 70 people were hospitalized across the state with the coronavirus, according to the Wyoming COVID hospitalization tracker. The majority of those patients, 33, were in the Cheyenne Regional Medical Center.

“Between May 1 and July 19, roughly 93% of those patients in Wyoming who were hospitalized at the time they were interviewed by public health representatives did not report being fully vaccinated against COVID-19,” WDH spokeswoman Kim Deti told Cowboy State Daily on Friday.

The number marks the first time since January that more than 60 people have been hospitalized for coronavirus treatment in Wyoming.

Deti did note that sometimes people are hospitalized after they are interviewed, so the department’s numbers may not reflect the hospitalizations of those individuals. The department also chose May 1 as the look-back date because by then, Wyoming residents would have had “ample time” to be vaccinated after the doses became available to the general population with a good number of supplies, Deti said.

Nearly half of the state’s available intensive care unit beds were occupied, with only 73 of 131 beds in Wyoming available. However, just because someone is in the ICU does not mean they have the virus.

As of Thursday, the state had almost 800 active coronavirus cases, numbers that haven’t been seen in nearly six months. In 2020, Wyoming didn’t hit 700 active cases until September, the beginning of a spike that saw more 11,000 active cases by late November.

Deti told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday that health officials believe the more contagious Delta variant and low vaccination rates are contributing to the higher active cases in the state.

Around 32% of Wyoming’s population is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

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Idaho Woman Ordered To Pay $5K For Improper Food Storage In Grand Teton

in News/Crime
12222

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

An Idaho woman was ordered to pay a fine of more than $5,000 for improperly storing food in Grand Teton National Park.

Belinda J. Arvidson, 50, was ordered to pay $5,826.99 for improper food storage and will serve four years of unsupervised release.

While camping in Grand Teton National Park, Arvidson failed to properly store garbage and beverages, resulting in a grizzly bear receiving a food reward when it found the unattended garbage and drink at the campsite.

“Irresponsible behaviors have  consequences, and many times it is the wildlife that pays the ultimate price,” said Chip Jenkins, superintendent of Grand Teton National Park. “We all have responsibilities to preserve and protect the incredible wild animals of Grand Teton National Park and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.”  

Individuals camping in the area took photos and videos of the grizzly bear while it was in Arvidson’s campsite rummaging through the trash and other food items. The campground contained multiple warning signs about bears and proper food storage as well as bear boxes in which food and other items could be stored.  

Due to the bear receiving a food reward, upon locating the bear, it was tranquilized, collared, and relocated by boat to another area of the park.

The bear could pose a danger to humans if it were to  have another similar incident, and killing the bear may become necessary, the park said.

The fine to be paid by Arvidson covers the National Park Service’s costs for relocating the bear, including the cost of a GPS collar now necessary to track the bear’s movement.

All food and items with a smell must be stored in a bear-resistant food storage locker or in a hard-sided vehicle  with the doors locked and windows closed day and night.

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Jonah Energy Joins Global Effort To Reduce Methane Emissions In Energy Production

in Energy/News
Jonah Field
12223

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A Wyoming natural gas company has become the first in the country to join an international program designed to show that energy producers are working to reduce their methane emissions.

Jonah Energy has become the first American oil and gas producer to submit methane emissions data to the Oil and Gas Methane Partnership, a United Nations-sponsored program.

The data will be used to create a global uniform platform that allows participating companies to demonstrate how much they have reduced emissions and what steps they plan to take to further reduce emissions, said Paul Ulrich, Jonah’s vice president of government and regulatory affairs.

The information will be used to show buyers, end consumers and regulators exactly what steps Jonah is taking to reduce its emissions, Ulrich said.

“From an economic standing alone, pivoting Wyoming to provide the cleanest natural gas in the country is vital,” he said. “For us to be able to compete and grow in a national and global market, we have to provide the cleanest natural gas possible. This is a first significant step.”

Jonah is working to earn the “Gold Standard” emissions rating from the OGMP, Ulrich said, which will show the steps the company has agreed to take to carefully monitor and reduce emissions.

“The ‘Gold Standard’ says you’ve committed to steps you take for continuous improvement,” he said. “It gives consumers and regulators confidence in and transparency into our market.”

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Family Of Lander Woman Blinded In Hospital Now Suing For Negligence

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The family of a 72-year-old Lander woman whose eye was gouged out by a fellow Lander hospital patient Thanksgiving morning is now suing said hospital for failing to protect the woman from her attacker.

Elaine Tillman died about two weeks following being attacked and blinded by Patrick Rose, 53, of Dubois, while they were both being treated at SageWest Hospital in Lander. Tillman was life-flighted to Salt Lake City shortly after the attack.

Tillman’s daughters are suing Riverton Memorial Hospital, LLC, the company that owns SageWest. The lawsuit doesn’t specifically list the damages the daughters are seeking, but it is in excess of $75,000.

The lawsuit accuses the hospital company of negligence for failing to protect Tillman from harm.

According to the lawsuit, Rose was a psychiatric patient with a history of violence when he was held in the hospital on Thanksgiving morning.

The lawsuit said Rose was insufficiently restrained and supervised at the time, allowing him to leave his room and assault Tillman. The woman’s autopsy listed her cause of death as homicide.

The lawsuit alleged and it had been known for more than a year that SageWest had been “grossly” insufficient when supervising and monitoring of its psychiatric patients. It also accused Riverton Memorial Hospital of not spending the money to assure patients’ safety despite the complaints.

Officials have determined that Rose is not mentally fit to proceed with his case. He was moved to the Wyoming State Hospital in June for further evaluation.

According to media reports, a nurse was outside of Rose’s room when “he ran out of the room, rushed into the next room, and jumped on the elderly female patient before (the nurse) could react.”

Reasons for the attack are unknown but the Associated Press reported that Rose may have stopped taking medication

“People who take psychotropic medications and suffer from mental illness have a tendency to believe they don’t need to take the medication and then quit taking them, and then things go wrong from them,” Lander Circuit Court Judge Robert Denhardt said.

Rose told the judge he had a traumatic brain injury.

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123 New Coronavirus Cases In Wyoming Wednesday; 121 Recoveries, 791 Active

in News/Coronavirus
12212

By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily.

Wyoming’s active coronavirus cases increased by 32 on Thursday from Wednesday. 

Wyoming Department of Health figures showed that the department received reports of 121 recoveries among those with confirmed or probable cases. 

At the same time, the state reported 123 new laboratory-confirmed and 30 new probable cases, leaving Wyoming with 791 active cases, an increase of 32 cases from Wednesday.

Laramie County continued to have the highest number of active cases at 258. Sweetwater had 62; Uinta 53; Fremont 50; Campbell 46; Natrona 44; Converse 36; Carbon 35 and Teton 35; Lincoln 28; Platte 25; Albany 21; Park and Sublette 18; Goshen 16; Sheridan nine; Big Horn and Hot Springs eight; Johnson seven; Washakie and Weston six, and Niobrara two.

Crook County reported no active cases on Thursday.

Active cases are determined by adding the total confirmed and probable coronavirus cases diagnosed since the illness first surfaced in Wyoming on March 12, 2020, subtracting the number of recoveries during the same period among patients with both confirmed and probable cases and taking into account the number of deaths attributed to the illness.

The new confirmed and probable cases brought to 64,141 the number of people diagnosed with coronavirus since the first case was detected in Wyoming in March 2020. 

Of those, 62,584 have recovered.

Worland Airman Welcomed Home After 54 Years

in News
12209

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

In January 1967, U.S. Air Force pilot Lt. Alva “Ray” Krogman was shot down over Laos during the Vietnam War — and his family back in Wyoming was unable to say goodbye.

Until now.

After 54 years, the Worland native has finally returned home. Krogman, a 1964 graduate of the Air Force Academy, was just 25 when he was killed in action during the Vietnam War while serving with the Forward Air Controller (FAC) wing in Vietnam. 

His last transmission, “I’m hit,” was sent Jan. 17, 1967, after his aircraft was struck by 37-mm anti-aircraft fire. Although others flying with him saw his plane go down in flames, his final resting place wasn’t discovered until Feb. 14, 2019, and his remains were identified in July of last year.

After the identification, efforts began to send the decorated airman home to Wyoming, culminating with a grand ceremony at the Billings, Montana, airport on Monday, July 19, followed by a procession, with an honor escort, to Worland.

More than 100 motorcyclists, members of the Patriot Guard Riders, joined in the official procession to bring Krogman home after so many decades.

“He’s been in his plane for the last 54 years,” said Kevin Curtis, the Wyoming state captain for the Patriot Guard. “So it’s time to bring him home, and bring him home right.”

The Patriot Guard Riders made up only a fraction of the huge crowds that traveled with Krogman or lined streets in communities throughout the Big Horn Basin — in 111-degree heat — to welcome the Worland pilot back to his hometown. 

The funeral service was held at the Worland Middle School Auditorium, where hundreds of people gathered to honor the young man who gave all to his country. 

A veteran himself, Gary Hobbs, Patriot Guard Riders’ assistant state ride captain for the procession, said the honor and respect shown by the people along the route were befitting of the decorated war hero.

“All the way from Billings, even through the Big Horn Basin, it was just an outpouring of love and respect,” Hobbs said. “And that’s what is very emotional for me, not only to help bring that veteran home, but to see the support in Wyoming, in Montana. Farmers, ranchers, people standing off, completely the whole way along the route.”

As the lieutenant was laid to rest — finally — at the Riverview Memorial Gardens in Worland on Wednesday, family, friends and community members were there to celebrate his life, and honor his sacrifice.

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Colorado Woman Bit By Coyote Pup After Trying To Pet, Play With It

in News/wildlife
12208

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Colorado woman was bitten by a coyote pup on Tuesday after she and a number of other people were trying to pet and play with it.

While the woman only received minor injuries from the bite, she is now going through rabies treatment, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials. The incident took place in Yuma, near the Kansas and Nebraska borders.

Wildlife officers became aware of the incident after receiving a call from the doctor’s office where the woman was examined after the incident.

Upon investigation, officers determined the young coyote had been fed by people in the area, causing it to become used to humans.

When wildlife officers went to seize the coyote, which had been taken into the shop of another individual, the coyote was wearing a dog collar with a leash.

“This case should serve as a reminder to leave baby wildlife alone and to not feed wildlife,” said Wildlife Officer Josh Melby. “The lady who got bit is going through rabies shots now, which is unpleasant and expensive.”

The coyote pup was killed so a brain sample could be submitted to the Northeast Colorado Health Department for rabies testing, but the results are still pending.

Rabies is a fatal disease of the nervous system. The only way to test for it is through laboratory examination of brain tissue from an animal..

There is no effective treatment for rabies; however, a series of vaccinations and treatments immediately following exposure may prevent an infection in humans.

The feeding of big game animals in Colorado, including coyotes and foxes, is illegal.

Fines start at $100 plus surcharges, but the real consequences often come to members in the community, who may or may not even have taken part in the illegal feeding, CPW officials said.

When wildlife are fed by humans, the animals become habituated and expect to receive a food reward from people. That can lead to aggressive behavior by the animals and even attacks.

Wildlife officers across the state see the problem frequently with deer, elk, bears, coyotes, foxes and more, the CPW said. 

CPW reminds citizens that all wildlife is just that, wild, and animals can act unpredictably.

Wildlife experts urged the public to always leave young wildlife alone and to never attempt to feed wild animals, whether directly by putting out food for them or indirectly by having food sources around your home that they can access.

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Wyoming Obituaries: July 15 – 22

in Wyoming Obituary/News
12207

Here’s a list of recent deaths of Wyoming residents and those with close affiliations to the state for the week of July 15 – 22. Our condolences to family and friends:

July 15: 

July 16

July 17: 

July 18: 

July 19: 

July 20: 

July 21: 

July 22:

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