Two killed in crash north of Farson (posted 8/26/15)
Wyoming Highway Patrol
FARSON, WYOMING - Two men have died after a two vehicle crash on Monday, August 24, 2015 on US Highway 191 north of Farson, Wyoming. Alexander R. Greene, a 23-year old resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Benjamin K. Darneille, 21-years old from Rochester, Illinois, both sustained fatal injuries from the crash that occurred at 4:05 p.m. near mile post 51 on US 191 approximately 11 miles northwest of Farson.
For reasons unknown, Greene was driving a 2011 Ford Escape northbound in the southbound lane of US 191 exceeding the speed limit. Darneille was the front seat passenger in the Ford with Greene. The Ford was going the wrong way towards a southbound Volvo tractor pulling two trailers being driven by 55-year old Brent Hawkes of Paul, Idaho. Despite Mr. Hawkes efforts to avoid a crash, a head-on collision ensued between the two vehicles.
Greene and Darneille sustained fatal injuries on scene. Hawkes was transported by ground ambulance to Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County in Rock Springs, Wyoming where he was treated and released. All three men were wearing their seat belts at the time of the crash.
Drug use and driver inattention are being investigated as contributing factors in this crash. Mr. Greene and Mr. Darneille marked the 95th and 96th highway fatalities in Wyoming for 2015. There were 99 fatalities in this same time period in 2014.
More info: Sergeant David Wagener, Wyoming Highway Patrol Public Relations and Recruitment, Cheyenne, Wyoming, (307) 777-4306 (Office).
Fire Danger elevated to High (posted 8/26/15)
Fire Danger raised to HIGH
Bridger-Teton National Forest and Grand Teton National Park interagency news release
Teton Interagency fire managers have elevated the fire danger rating to High for the Bridger-Teton National Forest, Grand Teton National Park, and Teton Interagency Dispatch Area. The potential for fire activity has increased due to drying vegetation combined with higher temperatures, low humidity and brisk afternoon winds.
A high fire danger rating means that fires can start easily and spread quickly. When determining fire danger, fire managers use several indicators such as the moisture content of grasses, shrubs, and trees; projected weather conditions (including temperatures and possible wind events); the ability of fire to spread after ignition; and availability of firefighting resources across the country.
The regional fire preparedness level has been elevated to the highest level of five as of today, August 25, and the national preparedness level has been at five since August 13. There are five levels of preparedness typically used at a regional and national level. The National Multi-Agency Coordination Group establishes preparedness levels throughout the calendar year to help assure that firefighting resources are ready to respond to new fire incidents.
As the preparedness levels rise, more federal and state employees become available for fire mobilization if needed. However, higher preparedness levels also mean that nearly all fire resources are in use. The current level of fire preparedness has not occurred since 2007.
To help promote fire prevention efforts, campers and day users should never leave a fire unattended, and always have a shovel on hand and a water bucket ready for use. All campfires must be completely extinguished and cold to the touch before leaving a site.
Campers have abandoned 105 campfires on the Bridger-Teton National Forest and in Grand Teton National Park so far this summer. Campers should be mindful that they could be held liable for suppression costs if their campfire becomes a wildfire. Local residents and area visitors are reminded to "know the risks," exercise caution and practice heightened fire safety at all times.
To report a fire or smoke in Bridger-Teton National Forest or Grand Teton National Park, call the Teton Interagency Dispatch Center at 307-739-3630. For more fire information, please visit www.tetonfires.com.
Wolf News Roundup (posted 8/23/15)
Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
In northeastern Washington, a pack of wolves injured a 90-pound livestock guardian dog that was protecting its sheep flock, and state officials are struggling with the decision whether to classify the incident as a "depredation." The dog had severe injuries to its ears, neck and side. The dog is owned by a livestock producer who lost more than 200 sheep to wolves last year.
The California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) has photographic evidence of five gray wolf pups and two adults in Northern California. After trail cameras recorded a lone canid in May and July, CDFW deployed additional cameras, one of which took multiple photos showing five pups, which appear to be a few months old and others showing individual adults. Because of the proximity to the original camera locations, it is likely the adult previously photographed in May and July is associated with the group of pups.
"This news is exciting for California," said Charlton H. Bonham, CDFW Director. "We knew wolves would eventually return home to the state and it appears now is the time." CDFW has designated this group (comprised of two adults and five pups) the Shasta Pack.
Wild wolves historically inhabited California, but were extirpated. Aside from these wolves and the famous wolf OR7 who entered California in December 2011, the last confirmed wolf in the state was in 1924. OR7 has not been in California for more than a year and is currently the breeding male of the Rogue Pack in southern Oregon. In June 2014, the California Fish and Game Commission voted to list gray wolves as endangered under the California Endangered Species Act. The gray wolf is also listed as endangered in California, under the Federal Endangered Species Act of 1973. Gray wolves that enter California are therefore protected by the ESA making it illegal to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture or collect wolves, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct in California.
CDFW is completing a Draft Wolf Management Plan and will release it soon.
Two men driving in South Dakota's Black Hills were able to videotape a wolf roaming in the area, and although they've shared the video with state wildlife officials, they refuse to reveal the exact location where it was filmed.
Isle Royale National Park's declining wolf population got a small boost with the recent confirmation of two wolf pups on the island. (Isle Royale is located in Michigan.) Even with the recent addition, the wolf population still numbers less than a dozen animals in this isolated population.
Wolves in Sweden
Sweden's population of about 400 wolves is subject to annual wolf hunts, with more than 40 wolves killed per year. That program is under scrutiny and criticism of the European Union, and rural residents are dealing with the same conflicts with wolves as residents in the Northern Rockies.
Meanwhile, officials in Switzerland have issued a kill order for one wolf that is blamed for the death of almost 40 sheep. Federal law in that country allows for the killing of any wolf that kills 25 sheep in one month, or 35 sheep in four consecutive months.
To learn more about any of these stories, check out the links below for full articles.
Washington Wolves Injure Guard Dog - Capital Press
California Pups - CDFW
Isle Royale wolves - Pups discovered
Black Hills - Rapid City Journal
Swedish Farmers & Wolves - New York Times
Switzerland Kill Order - Approval of order to kill wolf
Wolf Watch - by Cat Urbigkit
Smoky skies continue (posted 8/20/15)
August 20, 2015 National Large Fire Map. Source: NIFC
Wildland fires continue to burn actively in the west United States bringing smokey skies to western Wyoming. Large wildfires are burning in Washington (18), Oregon (12), California (13), Idaho (15) and Montana (12), Arizona (1). Smoky conditions are expected to continue through Friday and then clear out with windy conditions over the weekend.
A ridge of high pressure will bring mainly dry conditions and slightly warmer temperatures for today. Gusty winds, combined with dry air, will bring extreme fire weather conditons across southern Wyoming. See the Red Flag Warnings for more details. Smoke from the fires out west will also continue across the state today. An upper level disturbance will approach the region on Friday, bringing warm and windy conditions. This will lead to more elevated fire danger across the state. Showers, and possibly some higher elevation snow, will then be possible Friday night into Saturday morning across northern Wyoming. Cool and mainly dry conditions are then expected during the day Saturday. (National Weather Service)
www.weather.gov National Weather Service
National Large Fire Incident Map U.S. Forest Service
National Fire Incident Management Report
Inciweb Wildfire Incident Information System (interagency)
Non-native fish to be removed from Bare Creek in Wyoming Range (posted 8/18/15)
Bare Creek closed to all water activities from August 24 through August 28, 2015
Wyoming Game & Fish
Fish managers with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department will be removing non-native fish species from Bare Creek in the Wyoming Range west of Daniel August 24-28, 2015. As a result, managers are suggesting anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts help by planning to avoid Bare Creek during that week.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is in the first year of a project to restore the native Colorado River cutthroat trout in the Bare Creek watershed. Bare Creek is a tributary to South Cottonwood Creek in the upper Green River system that includes nine stream miles of currently occupied trout habitat.
Colorado River cutthroat trout populations will be restored within their historic range in Bare Creek, where they can persist and be managed without continual competition and hybridization from non-native fish species. The plan calls for the removal of non-native trout species within the upper headwaters of Bare Creek. Once non-natives have been removed, a self-sustaining Colorado River cutthroat trout population can be re-established through transplants from nearby sources.
Fish managers will be treating the entire length of Bare Creek at one time. This will be done using the piscicide rotenone. This chemical has been used successfully in many stream restoration efforts and has proven highly effective at removing unwanted fish species from aquatic systems with no harmful effects to other plants and animals.
The entire project will continue for the next year with plans to restock native Colorado River cutthroat trout, as well as other native fish species, by the year 2017.
As a reminder, Bare Creek should be considered closed to all water activities during the treatment period from August 24 through August 28. If you were planning to recreate in the Bare Creek watershed during this time, please consider an alternate location. A few suggestions would be to camp and fish in the nearby North Cottonwood or North Horse Creek drainages.
For more information about the Colorado River cutthroat trout restoration project on Bare Creek, or for suggestions of alternate recreational locations, please contact Wyoming Game and Fish Pinedale Fisheries Biologist Darren Rhea at 1-800-452-9107 or 307-367-4347.
Plane crash survivors extracted from Wind River Range (posted 8/18/15)
Search & rescue members stage with the helicopter for a short-haul extraction of two plane crash survivors. Photo courtesy Sublette County Sheriff’s Office.
Sublette County Sheriff’s Office
On August 16, at approximately 1000, the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office was notified of a single-plane crash in the Wind River Mountain range. A second plane, which had been flying with the downed aircraft, was able to circle the crash site, providing detailed information of the location. Tip Top Search and Rescue members were activated for a short-haul mission in order to extract the two passengers. Both men were successfully extracted from the crash site and transported to St. John’s Medical Center where they received care. The crash is being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Click here for more pictures: Plane crash rescue
Stolen antique truck recovered (posted 8/11/15)
Stolen truck recovered.
Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office
ROCK SPRINGS, WYOMING - Thanks to social media and an alert deputy, an antique truck stolen from a ranch near Eden last month has been recovered.
The truck, a green 1940 1 ½-ton Chevrolet flatbed with wooden cargo racks, was parked at the spot where it was stolen just off U.S. Highway 191 for many years and was last registered in the 1970s.
Sweetwater County Sheriff Mike Lowell said a witness reported in July that it was loaded onto a flatbed trailer drawn by a late 1990s to early 2000s black Ford diesel pickup, an extended-cab four-wheel-drive with Wyoming license plates. The black Ford pickup, towing the flatbed and stolen Chevrolet, left the area northbound on Highway 191.
The Sheriff’s Office circulated photographs of the stolen truck on Facebook and in the mainstream media, encouraging anyone with information call in.
Shortly after the photographs were released, a Facebook poster reported that she had seen the truck, loaded on a trailer, northbound on Highway 191. Next, Deputy Sheriff Steve Dunning of the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office saw the Facebook post and realized he’d seen the truck on some property near Marbleton, southwest of Pinedale.
Working with Sublette County authorities, detectives of the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant on the Marbleton property and recovered the truck, which by then had been extensively disassembled. They also interviewed the man in possession of the truck, whom officials are declining to identify for now.
Lowell said his agency’s findings have been submitted to the Sweetwater County Attorney’s Office for consideration of charges, as the investigation continues.
Public’s help sought for information about stolen antique truck July 21, 2015
Western Wolf News Roundup (posted 8/11/15)
Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
Wolf populations in Oregon, Washington and California appear to be increasing. Oregon now has at least 8 wolf pairs while Washington has confirmed 16 packs, and the California Department of Fish & Wildlife has confirmed another wolf roaming that state. State officials captured images of the animal on trail cameras after receiving reports of a wolf they believed entered the state from Oregon. For the details, and to view photos of the wolf, check out the links below.
Washington state ranchers, as well as some in Idaho, have taken different approaches to managing their livestock in the presence of wolves. To learn more, check out the links below.
Northwest Wolf Populations Climb - Jefferson Public Radio
California Department of Fish & Wildlife - Read the report here.
Range Riders in Washington - Seattle Times
Idaho's Lava Lake Institute - Idaho Mountain Express
Wolf Watch - by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
Grand Teton National Park monitoring for noise (posted 8/10/15)
Motorcycles pass the roadside noise meter on the Teton Park Road in Grand Teton National Park. NPS photo.
‘Soundscape Awareness’ efforts underway with temporary roadside noise meter
National Park Service - Grand Teton National Park
Visitors to Grand Teton National Park may notice a new roadside noise meter over the next few weeks. The display provides real-time sound level measurements and is part of the park’s noise reduction program which addresses noise from a variety of sources: vehicles and local traffic; construction work; maintenance activities (garbage collection and road work); transportation (tour buses and delivery trucks); and other park operations. In addition to the noise meter, park entrance stations and visitor centers are providing visitors with information about how to minimize impacts from their vehicles.
The roadside noise meter display is on loan from the National Park Service’s (NPS) Natural Sounds Program office and will be situated at various locations throughout the park for the rest of the summer. As motorists travel past the sign, it displays the approximate sound level of the vehicle on a spectrum from green, to yellow, to red for the loudest vehicles. The goal of the display is to make visitors aware of the impacts of vehicular noise on park resources and other visitors.
In conjunction with the noise meter, the park is also undertaking education and awareness efforts in visitor centers and entrance stations. Around 200 visitors chatted with staff from the Natural Sounds Program at the park’s Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center during the past weekend. Additionally, a new brochure that highlights the importance of natural soundscapes in Grand Teton and provides some tips for making a difference is now available in visitor centers. Motorcyclists entering the park will also receive an information card encouraging them to "ride respectfully."
The NPS hopes to reach motorcycle riders in particular with this information. Riding a motorcycle through Grand Teton is an exciting way to experience the park’s scenic beauty. However, low-frequency sound— like that from some motorcycles—travels farther and can have greater harmful effects on wildlife and park resources than typical passenger cars and trucks. Not all motorcycles are loud, but all riders can be part of the solution by taking actions to minimize their own noise levels. The following tips are easy ways motorcyclists can enjoy their visit while riding respectfully through the park:
• Operate motorcycles as quietly as possible to minimize disturbance
• Obey speed limits and avoid excessive acceleration or revving of the engine
• Avoid traveling in large groups and turn engines off instead of idling
• Use horns only when necessary for safety and turn down radios or use a headset
• Be sensitive when riding near wildlife, campgrounds, lodging, and visitor centers
Just like fresh air and clean water, natural sound is an important resource that the NPS works to protect. Natural soundscapes provide opportunities to experience the serene beauty of nature. They are also essential for wildlife that use natural sounds to establish territory, find mates, nurture and protect young, and find predators or prey.
More information can be found at www.nature.nps.gov/sound_night.
Identity of victim killed in grizzly bear attack released (posted 8/10/15)
Long-time park employee Lance Crosby from Billings, Montana
National Park Service Yellowstone National Park
A 63-year old man from Billings, Montana, has been identified as the victim of last week’s grizzly bear attack in Yellowstone. Around noon on Friday, August 7, Lance Crosby was found dead approximately .5 miles from the Elephant Back Loop Trail in a popular off-trail area in the Lake Village area of the park. Crosby was a long-term seasonal employee of Medcor, the company that operates three urgent care clinics in the park. He had worked and lived in Yellowstone for five seasons and was an experienced hiker.
The investigation into Crosby’s death continues, but the preliminary results show that he was attacked by at least one grizzly bear. His body was found partially consumed and cached, or covered, and partial tracks at the scene indicate that an adult female grizzly and at least one cub-of-the-year were present and likely involved in the attack. While the exact cause of death has not been determined, investigators have identified what appear to be defensive wounds on Crosby’s forearms. DNA evidence was recovered at the scene and will be used to help identify the bear/s involved. A forensic autopsy is scheduled for later today.
Wildlife biologists set bear traps in the area of the attack on Friday evening. One bear was captured during the overnight hours and biologists confirmed later that it was an adult female grizzly. To date, no other bears have been captured and traps remain set in the hopes of catching other bears that are in the area. Biologists have obtained scat samples, paw measurements, and DNA evidence from the bear and this information will be used to determine if the captured bear was the one that attacked Crosby and partially consumed his body. If the bear is determined as having been involved, it will be removed from the population through euthanasia.
"The decision to euthanize a bear is one that we do not take lightly. As park managers, we are constantly working to strike a balance between the preservation of park resources and the safety of our park visitors and employees," said Dan Wenk, superintendent of Yellowstone National Park. "Our decision is based on the totality of the circumstances in this unfortunate event. Yellowstone has had a grizzly bear management program since 1983. The primary goals of this program are to minimize bear-human interactions, prevent human-caused displacement of bears from prime food sources, and to decrease the risk of bear-caused human injuries."
The Elephant Back Loop Trail, Natural Bridge Trail, and the immediate area is closed until further notice. All of Yellowstone National Park is considered bear country. Hikers are advised to stay on designated trails, travel in groups of three or more people, carry bear spray, be alert for bears, and make noise to help avoid surprise encounters.
Man killed by grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park (posted 8/8/15)
National Park Service - Yellowstone National Park
Preliminary results of the investigation into the recent death of a hiker in Yellowstone National Park show that the man was attacked by a grizzly bear. While the exact cause of death has not been determined, investigators have identified what appear to be defensive wounds on the victim’s forearms. The victim’s body was found partially consumed and cached, or covered, in the vicinity of the Elephant Back Loop Trail near Lake Village on Friday afternoon. Based on partial tracks found at the scene, it appears that an adult female grizzly and at least one cub-of-the-year were present and likely involved in the incident.
The name of the individual is being withheld pending family notification. The Montana man was a long-term seasonal employee of Medcor, the company that operates three urgent care clinics in the park. He had worked and lived in Yellowstone for five seasons and was an experienced hiker. He was reported missing on Friday morning when he did not report for work. A park ranger found his body in a popular off-trail area he was known to frequent, approximately .5 miles from the Elephant Back Loop Trail. Additional park rangers and wildlife biologists responded to the scene and gathered evidence for bear DNA recovery. The investigation will continue, although heavy rains in the area Friday evening and Saturday morning have made additional evidence recovery difficult. A forensic autopsy is currently scheduled for Monday.
Wildlife biologists set bear traps in the area on Friday evening. If bears are trapped and identified as having been involved in the attack, they will be euthanized. "We may not be able to conclusively determine the circumstances of this bear attack, but we will not risk public safety," said Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk. "We are deeply saddened by this tragedy and our hearts go out to the family and friends of the victim as they work to cope with the loss of someone who loved Yellowstone so very much."
The Elephant Back Loop Trail and immediate area is closed until further notice. Signs are posted and maps of the closure area are available at park visitor centers.
All of Yellowstone National Park is considered bear country. Hikers are advised to stay on designated trails, travel in groups of three or more people, carry bear spray, be alert for bears, and make noise to help avoid surprise encounters.
For more information contact Julena Campbell or Amy Bartlett, (307)344-2015, YELL_Public_Affairs@nps.gov.
www.nps.gov/yell Yellowstone National Park
Another grizzly bear relocated from north of Pinedale (posted 8/8/15)
PINEDALE - The Wyoming Game and Fish Department trapped and relocated an adult male grizzly bear Monday, August 3, 2015.
The bear was captured for killing sheep on a U.S. Forest Service grazing allotment north of Pinedale, WY. In cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Shoshone National Forest, the bear was relocated to the Sunlight Creek drainage, approximately three miles from the Forest Service gate on the Sunlight Creek Road (Forest Service Road 101) and approximately 15 miles southwest of Crandall, Wyoming. The release site is located in currently occupied grizzly bear habitat.
Grizzly bear relocated from north of Pinedale (posted 8/8/15)
Wyoming Game & Fish
PINEDALE - The Wyoming Game and Fish Department trapped and relocated an adult male grizzly bear Sunday, August 2, 2015.
The bear was captured for killing cattle on a U.S. Forest Service grazing allotment north of Pinedale, Wyoming. In cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Shoshone National Forest, the bear was relocated to the Mormon Creek drainage approximately five miles from the east entrance of Yellowstone National Park within the North Fork of the Shoshone River drainage west of Cody. The release site is located in currently occupied grizzly bear habitat.
Grizzly bear relocation is a management tool afforded bear management personnel to minimize conflicts between humans and grizzlies. The decision to relocate and the selection of a relocation site is made taking into consideration the age, sex, and type of conflict the bear was involved in. Since grizzly bears are listed as "Threatened" under the Endangered Species Act, consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the appropriate land management agency is also made to minimize the chance of future conflicts and maximize the survival potential of the relocated grizzlies. Bears are relocated in accordance with federal law and regulation. When selecting a relocation site, the department makes every consideration to minimize potential conflicts with livestock and people. Bears can create conflicts after they have obtained food rewards. Game and Fish continues to stress the importance of keeping all attractants (food items, horse feeds, bird seed, and others) unavailable to bears. Reducing attractants reduces human-bear conflicts.