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Grizzly Bear Captures To Continue At Yellowstone Until October

in Grizzly Bears/News/Yellowstone
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Grizzly bear capture operations in Yellowstone National Park have been extended from Aug. 28 to Oct. 23, the National Park Service announced Monday.

In order to attract bears for research, biologists use natural food sources such as fresh road-killed deer and elk. Potential capture sites are baited with these natural foods and if indications are that grizzly bears are in the area, culvert traps or foot snares will be used to capture the bears.

Once captured, bears are handled in accordance with strict safety and animal care protocols.

Capture operations can include a variety of activities, but all areas where work is being conducted will have primary access points marked with warning signs.
 
Monitoring of grizzly bear distribution and other activities are vital to ongoing recovery of grizzly bears in the Yellowstone Ecosystem.
 
Whenever bear capture activities are being conducted for scientific purposes, the area around the site will be posted with bright warning signs to inform the public of the activities occurring. These signs are posted along the major access points to the capture site.

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Coronavirus Found In Wyoming Wastewater, Including At Old Faithful

in Coronavirus/News/Yellowstone
5865

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The coronavirus has been detected in wastewater from 11 sites across Wyoming, including Yellowstone National Park.

The Wyoming Public Health Laboratory has found that wastewater in areas including in Sheridan, Casper, Laramie and two sites in Yellowstone National Park (including Old Faithful) showed some concentration of the virus.

Many of the locations showed a prevalence under 1%, such as Old Faithful (0.2%), Laramie (0.1%) and Rock Springs (0.8%). However, Jackson showed a prevalence of 2.3%, the highest on the chart.

For each of the sites, the lab has broken the data down into three charts: modeled prevalence, threshold cycle and sample concentration.

  • Modeled prevalence shows the estimate of the trend in the percent of people that are infectious in each community. However, the lab noted there were “a lot” of assumptions factoring into the estimate and the numbers “need to be taken with a grain of salt.”
  • Threshold cycle shows the raw data from the lab, showing if there might have been a higher initial concentration of viral RNA in the wastewater sample.
  • Sample concentration translates the raw cycle threshold numbers.

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Yellowstone Visitations Down 27.5% Compared To 2019

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Visitations to Yellowstone National Park through July of this year are down by 27.5% from last year’s figures.

According to statistics gathered by the National Park System, the park has hosted 1,664,830 recreation visits so far this year, a 27.5% drop from the same period last year.

However, the park did see growth in visitations during the month of July this year, with 955,645 visitors, a 2% increase over July 2019.

The park was closed from March 24 to May 18 due the coronavirus pandemic. The Wyoming entrances opened in May and the Montana entrances opened June 1.

The list below shows the year-to-date trend for recreation visits over the last several years (through July):

  • 2020 – 1,664,830
  • 2019 – 2,294,690
  • 2018 – 2,322,270
  • 2017 – 2,316,542
  • 2016 – 2,427,988
  • 2015 – 2,279,557

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Snake Causes Tourists To Panic In Yellowstone

in News/Yellowstone
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a. If your content is on Facebook: edit post and include, “To use this content, media outlets must contact Naomi@tmx.news.”

Posted by Alisha Archuleta Peterson on Thursday, August 13, 2020

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It’s way too early to tell, but perhaps tourists in Wyoming are beginning to respect wildlife.

After all, the mere sight of a (non-venomous) bull snake in Yellowstone caused shrieking and panic when it was spotted coming out of the engine compartment of someone’s SUV.

Or it might have just been that there was snake coming out someone’s SUV. It’s not a common site.

Whatever the case, a tourist from Utah had stopped in Yellowstone and when she came back from the facilities, she found the hood of her car open.

She said she thought there was something wrong with her car but was told a snake had “crawled into the engine.”

A crowd gathered along with two park rangers. Members of the crowd spent time offering different techniques for trying to get the snake out including reaching into the car’s engine. She told the Idaho Statesman that someone “poking it at” from underneath the car finally coaxed the snake out.

“Good thing because I was not getting in the car until he came out,” she said on her Facebook page.

As for the snake, reports are it escaped unharmed.

As for the tourists, no one qualified — today — for the Darwin Award.

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Park Service Raises Fire Danger In Yellowstone To “Very High”

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It’s worrisome this time of year here in Wyoming when precipitation levels are lower than usual as the risk of fire increases.

Anyone old enough to remember the Yellowstone fires of 1988 recoils at the thought of that happening again.

That’s why travelers to Yellowstone need to be extra careful as the National Park Service has just increased the wildland fire danger to “Very High.” That’s the second highest fire level ranking.

In plain English, this means fires start easily from all causes and may spread faster than suppression resources can travel. 

Flame lengths will be long with high intensity, making control very difficult. Both suppression and mop up will require an extended and very thorough effort. 

Outdoor burning is not recommended.

For the tourists who insist upon building a fire anyway, the park service has laid out strict rules (which we hope people will follow better than they do with being around bison).

Campfires are only permitted within fire rings in our campgrounds and some backcountry campsites. All campfires must be cold to the touch before leaving. Soak, stir, feel, repeat.

Let’s hope we can make it through the summer of 2020 without more unfortunate headlines.

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Yellowstone Biologists To Poison Fish For Restoration Work

in News/wildlife/Yellowstone
5742

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

From Aug. 17 to 23, portions of the upper Gibbon River drainage in central Yellowstone National Park will be closed to allow park staff to poison nonnative fish in the area, according to a news release from the National Park Service.

The closures are necessary for park staff to continue work on a project to eliminate the nonnative fish. Biologists will remove nonnative rainbow trout and brook trout using the fish toxin rotenone.

The toxin is a naturally-occurring chemical compound derived from the roots of tropical plants. Below the treatment area, biologists will add potassium permanganate to the water to remove the effects of the toxin and prevent impacts to downstream waters.

This is the final treatment to remove nonnative fish from this section of the river. The reintroduction of the native Arctic grayling and westslope cuttroat trout will continue as needed to restore these species.

The historic stocking of nonnative fish nearly eliminated the native species from Yellowstone. In recent years, the park has restored the native species to the East Fork of Specimen Creek, Goose Lake and Grayling Creek.

Virginia Cascades Drive and Wolf Lake Trail to Little Gibbons Falls will be closed for the week, but if the project is completed early, closures will be lifted. Campsites in the area will remain open.

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It’s Bison Mating Season Which Means Tourists Will Try To Pet Them

in News/Yellowstone
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Bison fight

Bison mating season is still going on in the park. Male bison are particularly aggressive right now, though all bison and other wildlife can be dangerous. Remember to always keep your distance—25 yards from bison and elk; 100 yards from all other wildlife.#Yellowstone #NationalPark #WhatWildlifeDoWednesday #Bison

Posted by Yellowstone National Park on Monday, 10 August 2020

There’s not an official holiday or anything but this is the season of love if you’re a bison.

Wyoming citizens know that means don’t come anywhere close to the animals (as usual).

But since this is tourist season, Yellowstone National Park is alerting morons our visitor friends that they really need to keep their distance.

To illustrate their point, the park posted a video on its Facebook page showing the raw strength of these animals.

“Male bison are particularly aggressive right now, though all bison and other wildlife can be dangerous,” the post reads.

“Remember to always keep your distance—25 yards from bison and elk; 100 yards from all other wildlife,” they said.

After watching the video, it might be better to stay a mile away from bison.

It’s your move, tourists.

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Two Fires Kick Off Yellowstone Fire Season

in News/wildfire/Yellowstone
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Yellowstone National Park’s wildfire season recently began with not one, but two bangs.

Two lightning-ignited wildfires were started in the park earlier this week, according to a news release from the National Park Service.

The Sour Fire, located near the Mirror Plateau, was spotted by the park’s Mount Washburn Lookout on the afternoon of Aug. 1. Precipitation fell on the fire shortly after detection, and it hasn’t been seen since.

The Soda Fire, located several hundred yards south of the Soda Butte formation in Lamar Valley, was reported by a visitor on the evening of Aug. 3. Fire staff suppressed the fire due to its location.

Fire danger is currently at a high level in the park. However, no fire restrictions are currently in place.

Campfires are only permitted in fire rings at campgrounds and some backcountry campsites. Due to the pandemic, only four campgrounds are open.

The Park Service reminded Yellowstone visitors to take precautions against fire through steps such as making sure all campfires are dead. All campfires must be cold to the touch before abandoning. Soak the fire with water, stir the embers and repeat until the embers are cold.

Wyoming is experiencing an above-average fire season, and humans are the main cause of wildfires.

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Yellowstone Hot Spring Goes Dormant

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

One of Yellowstone National Park’s hot springs has gone dormant, with no real indication of when it will become active again.

According to a Facebook post from Yellowstone National Park, Canary Spring (part of Mammoth Hot Springs) went dormant earlier this week.

While this is a “dramatic” change, this isn’t the first time the spring has gone dormant. According to the post, Canary Spring is known for erratic activity.

The park’s records show the spring going dormant in October 1884, but active again sometime in 1885. It was also inactive from 1914 to 1924.

Between 1925 and 1932, the spring went through many periods of activity and dormancy. There was also a period of great terrace formation right before this, with Canary and Butterfly terraces forming around the spring in 1924.

Records also show the spring was inactive from 1939 to 1948, but active again between 1954 and 1984. In 1991, a 6-inch “spouter” was observed at the very top of the spring.

In the fall of 1993, a travertine formation grew, shifting the water flow toward a wooden observation platform. Between 1995 and 1997, there was increased runoff toward the Mammoth Corrals.

On Sept. 26, 1998, Canary Spring went dormant and the next day, no water was visible. The last time that happened was in 1970.

On Oct. 3, 1998, the main vent began flowing again. In 2006, the spring went dormant for about 24 hours and then over a four-day period, slowly regained activity.

“Will Canary Spring awaken from this dormancy, and if so, when?” the post ended.

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Yellowstone Announces Lottery For Snowmobile Access Program

in News/Yellowstone
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Yellowstone National Park announced Friday that people can soon begin applying for the 2020-21 winter permit lottery to use a snowmobile in the park without a commercial guide.

The lottery will open Aug. 1 and remain open until Aug. 31, according to a news release from the National Park Service.

The non-commercially guided snowmobile access program, which was authorized in 2013, allows groups of up to five snowmobiles to enter from each of the park’s four winter entrances each day.

Successful applicants will be notified in early September. Unclaimed or canceled permits will be made available via www.recreation.gov on a first-come, first-serve basis on Oct. 1. There is no waiting list.

Cancellations may occur throughout the winter season, so snowmobilers are encouraged to check the website often for availability.

Trips can be for a maximum of three days in length, and permits cost $40 per day with a $6 application fee.

Permit holders are considered non-commercial guides and must be at least 18 years old on the first day of their trips.

All snowmobile operators must possess a state-issued driver’s license and successfully complete the free online Yellowstone Snowmobile Education Certification program. Anyone can take the course to learn about park rules that help visitors safely enjoy the unique experience of winter in Yellowstone while also protecting park resources.

All snowmobiles must meet the park’s New Best Available Technology standard.

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