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Cody marks 100 years of the Cody Stampede Rodeo

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Cody is celebrating two things during this long holiday weekend — Independence Day and the 100th anniversary of its world-famous Cody Stampede Rodeo.

Launched as a one-day event in 1919 by community leaders as a way to celebrate the opening of Yellowstone National Park’s eastern gate, the rodeo now runs for five nights and is considered one of the top rodeos in the world.

“As far as in the western world and the world of rodeo, Cody, Wyoming, is way up there on the list,” said Dan Miller, a longtime television rodeo announcer. “It has $480,000 (in prize money) and you get one chance at that here. When you put it in the contest of Cheyenne (Frontier Days), you put it in the context of Pendleton (Roundup in Oregon), the other rodeos, Cody holds its own.”

This year’s event, also featuring parades a craft fair and entertainment, began June 27 with a concert, followed by a professional bullriding competition and then four nights of Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association-sanctioned rodeos.

The events at the rodeo have changed significantly from its first years, said Robyn Cutter, with the Park County Archives.

“They had a lot of different races early on,” she said. “The chariot races, the wild cow milking contests, the different races that we don’t have today. But it’s been very exciting to see how it’s grown and changed over the years.”

Golden Problems, Working Solutions

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Golden eagle talons.
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By Cat Urbigkit, Range Writing columnist for Cowboy State Daily

Imagine being a commercial sheep producer in Wyoming and losing 15 percent of your annual lamb crop to a federally protected predator. Then as each year passes, your livestock losses increase as more of those federally protected predators concentrate depredations on your flocks. The losses climb so that fully half of your lamb crop is lost to these predators. 

That’s the reality for Johnson County’s Tommy Moore of Moore Ranch Livestock, which lost half of its lambs to golden eagles last year. The Moore outfit had about 200 lambs born earlier this year, but 27 lambs are left alive at this point, with 80 percent of that death loss due to golden eagles.

It’s not a sustainable situation and everyone knowledgeable about this case understands that.

That’s why Moore has teamed up with the Wyoming Wool Growers Association, and Mike Barker of the International Eagle Austringers Association (a group of eagle falconers) to organize a coordinated effort to get some of the depredating golden eagles off his ranch. That work has drawn in several federal agencies, the Wyoming Game & Fish Department, the North American Falconers Association, numerous volunteer falconers and scientists from across the country, and U.S. Senator John Barrasso. 

Barrasso – quietly and successfully – amended the federal eagle protection act last fall to require the director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) to “use the most expeditious procedure practicable to process and administer permits” for the take of depredating eagles.[

“That really helped to push this through,” Barker said. 

A golden eagle in flight in western Wyoming.
A golden eagle feeds on a dead pronghorn antelope in Wyoming. (Photo: Cat Urbigkit)

Prior to a mid-1970s study documenting severe eagle depredation on Montana lambing grounds, the public (and some wildlife agencies) were skeptical at rancher claims of eagle depredations.

Bart O’Gara of the Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit documented a similar kill scenario to the Moore’s Johnson County ranch on two Dillon, Montana-area ranches in the 1970s. In one six-hour period, O’Gara found 15 fresh eagle kills on one ranch, and that year, federal officials removed 145 golden eagles from the two ranches, which suffered losses totaling 76% of their lamb crop. Over a period covering three springs, nearly 250 golden eagles were removed from the ranches and depredations began to decline.[

With USDA Wildlife Services confirming the eagle depredations on his Wyoming ranch, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service issued Moore a depredation permit allowing the removal of two eagles. Moore agreed to work with the International Eagle Austringers Association so that the two eagles removed pursuant to his permit would be used for falconry, while other eagles that are captured are to be relocated away from the area.

A total of 27 eagle falconers applied to trap a golden eagle, and two names were drawn, including lucky man Barker and another falconer from New Mexico. Within six days, the trapping team captured a male eagle for the New Mexico falconer, and three days later, caught a female eagle for Barker. Both are immature golden eagles, so they were not part of the breeding population.

Now that two eagles have been removed from the population under the depredation permit, all other eagles captured on the ranch during the 90-day term of the permit will be relocated away from the ranch. Two other eagles have already been relocated, and live trapping efforts continue.

A golden eagle feeds on a dead pronghorn antelope in Wyoming.
A golden eagle in flight in western Wyoming. (Photo: Cat Urbigkit)

Similar efforts to stop eagle depredations on sheep have been successful in South Dakota. Other tactics, such as using scare devices, are generally viewed as ineffective at deterring eagle depredation on range sheep operations.

Eagle depredation on domestic sheep isn’t limited to newborn lambs, as Moore points out. They also attack and kill adult sheep and antelope. Golden eagles also killed a number of Moore’s replacement ewe lambs (weighing about 100 pounds) last fall. For the benefit of those not involved in the domestic sheep business, I’ll add that in my view, replacement ewe lambs are the future of any family sheep outfit.

While the eagle problem on the Moore ranch varies with the weather and with the season, the ranch experienced heavy damage in February (before his depredation permit was issued), and Moore expects problems to increase again this fall, if last year’s pattern is any indication.

The FWS has been hesitant to allow the removal of golden eagles, only allowing up to six goldens to be taken for falconry nationwide, so nearly all the golden eagles used for falconry in the United States were captured in the wilds of Wyoming. But FWS has not allowed any eagles to be taken from the wild since 2011 – until Barrasso pushed through the amendment to the eagle act last fall, and wool growers teamed up with falconers to push for action in Johnson County.

The wool growers/falconry partnership will continue, with numerous volunteer citizen scientists and falconers arriving on lambing grounds in other regions of the state in the coming days to monitor eagle depredations on lambs through the month of June. They will assist USDA Wildlife Services in confirming eagle depredations where problems are reported, which will set the stage for more ranchers to follow Moore’s lead in applying for depredation permits and requesting that falconers be allowed to trap and remove eagles from depredation areas.

The end result is that rather than pushing another domestic sheep producer out of business, the Moore family can continue their ranching heritage, and problem eagles will be removed from the wild, to hunt with their falconry advocates for decades to come.

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.[

‘Rugged individualism’ may contribute to high Mountain West suicide rates, says expert

in Health care/News/Uncategorized
A sense of “rugged individualism” may contribute to the fact that the Mountain West states have some of the highest suicide rates in the nation, according to an expert in Cheyenne.
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By Cowboy State Daily

A sense of “rugged individualism” may contribute to the fact that the Mountain West states have some of the highest suicide rates in the nation, according to an expert in Cheyenne.

Linda Goodman, the chief clinical officer at Peak Wellness Center in Cheyenne, said people suffering from depression or other issues in Wyoming and other rural states resist seeking assistance from counselors.

“The rugged individuality is a big piece of it,” she said. “The mentality that ‘I just need to cowboy up and be tough.’ That rugged individualism says ‘I need to be able to handle my problems by myself.”

In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control set Wyoming’s suicide rate at 26.9 per 100,000 people, the third highest ranking in the country. Wyoming joined Montana, Utah, Idaho and Colorado among the states with the 10 highest suicide rates in the nation.

Nationally, suicides have contributed to what was reported in a Detroit newspaper as a reduction in the life expectancy of Americans.

Author Mitch Albom wrote that death rates are rising among working class people who are middle aged and older, largely from what he described as “deaths of despair,” suicides and complications that arise from alcohol and drug abuse among people who believe they cannot achieve the “American dream.”

Goodman said she believes such feelings are often seen among the children of families who survived the Great Depression and World War II and vowed to give their children everything they needed to live the American dream.

“And for some of us, that is looking less and less like the American dream we had envisioned,” she said. “For some Americans today, it means having to let that dream go and if you don’t have the resilience to have another dream that emerges, then you are left with despair.”

Many people found themselves homeless or broke with the turbulent economies of recent years,” Goodman said.

“For people that had the ability to say ‘I’m going to drop back … I’m going to get back on my feet,’ that was fine,” she said. “But for people who did not have that, they turned to ways to avoid having to deal with those problems. That can be through the use of alcohol, it can be through the use of drugs, it can be through depression …”

Goodman said one thing that can help someone suffering from despair is for those people to help others who are less fortunate.

“There’s nothing that will help you more to feel like you have meaning in your life than to help someone else,” she said.

This story has been updated. A previous version of this story misstated the suicide rate.

Judd Gregg: In praise of Mike Enzi

in Uncategorized
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This guest column is republished with permission from The Hill.
This guest column originally appeared in The Hill on April 8, 2019 and is republished with permission from The Hill.

The federal deficit in February set a record.

It was $234 billion.

Up until 2008, annual deficits — those covering twelve months – rarely reached the level of the deficit the federal government just ran for the month of February.

The deficit for the first five months of this fiscal year is at $544 billion, and we are not even half way through the year.

Most of this deficit was driven by an increase in spending, which is up nine percent over last year’s spending at the same time. Last year, your federal government ran a deficit over $800 billion.

The left points to Republicans’ corporate tax cut and claims tax receipts are the cause of the deficit. But tax receipts have been strong, only less than one percent off last year’s income.

The deficit and the debt it is generating, now over $22 trillion, is unquestionably almost entirely the result of increased spending. 

This spending is being energized by two factors.

First, last year’s budget agreement, which spiked discretionary spending by over $2 trillion over ten years by raising the caps on spending so President Trump could get his defense boost and House Democrats their domestic non-defense spending.

The second more primary force behind this radical growth in spending is health care costs, especially Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare costs are soaring because the number of retired people has doubled while Medicaid costs are exploding because of the ObamaCare expansion.

With all this new debt being generated, one would hope that the president and Congress might put forth budgets for next year and the coming years to bail out a ship that will soon sink from this massive inflow of red ink.

Unfortunately for two key participants in deciding our fiscal future there is no interest in addressing the issues and implications of a nation awash in debt.

President Trump is fond of calling most news reports that are negative about him or his administration “fake news.” It is a catchy phrase and one he should stick on the budget he recently sent to the Congress.

Trump offered a “fake” budget, without a scintilla of integrity, and filled with nothing. Of course, he probably did not read it and since it was barely reported on Fox News likely had no idea what was in it. But had he done so, Trump could easily have dismissed it as fake.

The Democrats on the other hand have a legal responsibility to produce a budget now that they control the House. 

In fact, they have a much higher obligation in this regard than the president, as the budget is a uniquely Congressional event. If Congress agrees on a budget resolution, the president does not get to veto it or sign it. The budget is entirely within the purview of Congress and is its prerogative.

The Democratic Chairman of the House Budget Committee, though, has said he does not expect to be able to produce a budget, meaning House Democrats are abandoning their legislative responsibilities.

The Democratic House leadership is not even going to try to set out a plan to manage the approximately $4 trillion that the federal government will spend next year or the twenty to fifty trillion that will be spent over the next 5 to 10 years.

The reason House Democrats are not living up to their obligation to govern is simple. They do not want to disclose to the American people the incredible increase in spending that they and their party’s candidates are proposing as they shop for votes.

These proposals, including their nationalized medicine plan, their Green New Deal, and promises of free college to name a few, will add tens of trillions of dollars of new spending and dramatically increase the already massive federal deficits and debt.

House Democrats figure it is better to shirk their legislative responsibility and accept that downside, then to tell the American people what they are actually up to and what it will cost.

It is as cynical an approach to budgeting and managing the nation’s fiscal future as one can imagine.

Amidst the carnage around the budget and debt, there is one rational and honest voice: Mike Enzi, the Republican Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.

Wyoming’s citizens have a tendency to send very thoughtful and substantive people to represent them in Congress. Its current delegation includes Enzi, fellow Sen. John Barrasso (R), and Rep. Liz Cheney (R), all exceptional legislators.

Maybe it is because Wyoming is a small state where a great many people rely on the land for their income that their members of Congress are so often “down to earth” people.  

Mike Enzi certainly rises from this mold. He is a hard-working, no nonsense, substantive doer. He is the opposite of the flamboyant model that is so in vogue today.

For these reasons it is not surprising that in putting together the Republican Senate budget proposal he cut through all the gamesmanship and misdirection of the administration and House Democrats to submit a budget that manages the nation’s finances in a responsible and realistic manner.

The Enzi budget will reduce the deficit over five years by $538 billion. It does this without the numerical deceit at the heart of the president’s budget, and does not add, of course, the trillions of dollars of new spending House Democrats are calling for but will not admit to. 

The Enzi budget also has a $94 billion reconciliation instruction. 

This is important because reconciliation is the only viable process for adjusting health care spending, especially Medicare, in a way that costs less but delivers better care and services.  

Since he leaves the reconciliation instructions open, they could also be a place for bipartisan action to tackle our grossly overcomplicated tax code and put in place entitlement reform.

The Enzi budget is honest, as one would expect from the senator, by not projecting that it will balance in the five or ten year window it forecasts, acknowledging that it is not politically or practically possible.

Rather under the Enzi budget the deficits drop to about 2.9 percent of GDP, which is a manageable number.

Mike Enzi wants to try and get bipartisan support for this budget. Bipartisanship, though, is not the first choice for most members of this Congress. 

But Enzi has a low key, dogged approach to resolving issues. His budget, if it had been presented at a different time, would certainly warrant serious consideration across the capital.

Maybe he can be the one who reminds Congress that working together to take on big issues is not all that bad of a modus operandi.  

Getting these deficits and the debt they are generating into a manageable state is certainly as big an issue as we have as a nation if we wish to pass onto our kids a viable economy and growing standard of living.

In any event, we can all take some solace that in these cloudy days of excessive partisanship and declining good governance there is a Mike Enzi still trudging around the Senate.

Good Luck, Mike… you give us hope! 

Judd Gregg (R) is a former governor and three-term senator from New Hampshire who served as chairman and ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, and as ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Foreign Operations subcommittee.

Wyo Legislature’s Management Council doles out interim assignments

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By Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming Legislature’s Management Council, a committee made up of legislative leadership from both parties, met in Cheyenne on Thursday and Friday to assign interim topics to the body’s standing committees. Among the prioritized topics are taxes, education, modernizing oil and gas regulation, and sage grouse mitigation.

Our Robert Geha attended the meeting and spoke with House Speaker Pro Tempore Albert Sommers (R-Pinedale) about why taxes remain a legislative focus for the 2020 Budget Session when no tax legislation reached the Governor’s desk during the 2019 General Session.

“Keeping the momentum of educating the public and educating members on how our economy is changing and how we need to change our revenues as our economy changes,” said Sommers of the rationale for continuing the tax discussion in the interim.

The 2020 Wyoming Legislative Budget session will convene February 10th in the renovated Wyoming Capitol.

For more coverage of Wyoming government plus local stories that impact you, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

#TravelTuesday: Get a long little dogie — and head for the dachshund races at the Wyoming State Winter Fair

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Wyoming Dachsund
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By Cowboy State Daily

A race between long little dogies will highlight this weekend’s activities at the Wyoming State Winter Fair in Lander.

Wiener Dog Races — where organizers promise there will be “no losers … only wieners,” will top the morning’s activities at the Lander Rodeo Grounds on Saturday.

The race is the first of its kind for the 52-year-old State Winter Fair, said Yvette Broadhead, the fair’s president.

“The Fremont County Fair in Riverton is putting it on for us,” Broadhead said. “They called us and said it would be a fun event and we just jumped on board because we thought it was excellent. We’re all excited for it.”

Races featuring 10 dachshunds will be held until the field for a championship race is filled. Broadhead said organizers hope competitors will come from across Wyoming to take part.

Another major event of the weekend will be a miniature bull riding competition.The Ultimate Miniature Bullriding event, put on by Howl Rodeo Bulls, features young athletes — under the age of 15 — competing on bulls that are smaller than those usually seen in rodeos.

Ultimate Miniature Bullriding is a national program designed to help young aspiring bull riders learn more about the sport by giving them a chance to compete.

The competition has been a feature at the winter fair for some years, Broadhead said.

“Those kids are so good,” she said. “The whole crowd just loves them.”

The weekend begins with team roping on Friday and will wrap up Sunday with a horse show at the rodeo grounds arena.

The State Winter Fair was created in 1967 as a way to give people something to do during the long winter months, Broadhead said. The year’s fair had to be held over two weekends because of scheduling issues at various venues. Activities held on Feb. 23 included a duct tape fashion show, live music and a talent show.

For more information, visit the Wyoming State Winter Fair website at WyomingStateWinterFair.org.

Abortion waiting period bill dies in committee

in Uncategorized
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By Cowboy State Daily

A bill that would impose a 48-hour waiting period on women seeking abortions will not be reviewed by Wyoming’s Senate.

HB 140 will not receive a hearing in the Senate Labor, Health and Social Services Committee this session, committee Chair Sen. Charlie Scott, R-Casper, said Thursday.

Scott said the committee has a number of major bills to deal with before Wednesday, the last day for committees to send bills they have reviewed to the floor. He added he does not think the waiting period is a significant issue in Wyoming because most women seeking abortions go to other states.

Under existing Wyoming law, a doctor must give a woman seeking an abortion the chance to see an ultrasound of the fetus and hear a recording of its heartbeat. HB 140 would have required the doctor to wait 48 hours after extending that invitation to perform the procedure.

The bill was approved in the House on Feb. 1 by a vote of 36-22. Without a committee hearing, the bill will die before being reviewed by the full Senate.

In the Platte Valley, ice fishing derby a community affair

in Recreation/Uncategorized
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Video courtesy of Mike McCrimmon.

Ice anglers from several states are on Saratoga Lake this weekend for the annual Saratoga Lake Ice Fishing Derby. The weekend, always the third in January, includes a special Small Fry Derby for children under age 14.

Last weekend Platte Valley kids took to Treasure Island Pond on the Silver Spur Ranch to learn all the basics. And catch fish. Our report is from Cowboy State Daily videographer Mike McCrimmon.

Convention of States seeks constitutional convention

in News/Uncategorized
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A former legislator is heading the effort in Wyoming to hold a constitutional convention to consider amendments to impose fiscal restraints on the federal government and impose term limits on members of Congress.

Nathan Winters tells Cowboy State Daily’s Bob Geha that the Convention of States is a national effort started five years ago to convince 34 states to call for a constitutional convention.

House committee kills hemp extract bill

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Man carrying hemp oil product.

By Cowboy State Daily

A measure that would have allowed adults to possess and use hemp extract was killed Tuesday by a House committee.

The House Judiciary Committee, in a 4-4 tie vote, defeated HB 100, which would have legalized the use of hemp extract by adults.

Under state law, hemp extract can now be used medicinally. HB 100 would have removed the restrictions on its use, including one that people who are prescribed hemp extract or “hemp oil” by a doctor obtain a registration card.

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