Monthly Archives: October 2013

Tailgate before the final home game

by nathan oster

A number of local businesses are joining forces to throw a big tailgate party on the evening of the final home football and volleyball contests of the season on Friday, Oct. 18.

The schedule calls for a tripleheader of volleyball matches between Greybull and Lovell at Buff Gym, with the varsity contest projected to start around 5 p.m., as well as the regular season home finale for the Greybull Buffs, who play Big Piney at 7 p.m.

The tailgate party will start at 5:30 p.m. on the concrete basketball court between GHS and GMS.  Fans can enjoy free cheeseburgers, hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, drinks and ice cream while cheering on the Buffs.

Sponsors of the tailgate party include the Bank of Greybull, Big Horn Co-op, Big Horn Federal, Big Horn Rural Electric Company, Greybull Building Center, Greybull Standard, Murdoch Oil and Ron’s Food Farm.

 

 

Charges against restaurant owners dropped

by nathan oster

A judge has granted the state’s request to dismiss all criminal charges against Myles Foley and Lori Davis, the owners of The Speakeasy in downtown Greybull.

Foley and Davis had each been charged with selling alcohol without a license in a case that began when the Greybull Town Council, on which Foley is currently serving a four-year term, decided to suspend The Speakeasy’s liquor license.

Foley held a liquor license when he ran for a seat on the town council, but was unaware at the time of the state statute that prohibits sitting council members from holding liquor licenses in the communities that they serve. He was elected in November of 2012, joined the council this past January and served into the summer before being informed of the state statute.  Soon after, the council voted to suspend The Speakeasy’s license until it could be transferred to Davis alone.

The arrest of Foley and Davis in July on charges that they had served alcohol, in violation of the verbal notice of suspension provided by the council, triggered a public outcry, which included a torrent of letters to the editor, most of them in support of the two business owners.

The latest chapter unfolded Oct. 10 when special prosecutor Timothy J. Blatt, the deputy Park County and prosecuting attorney, filed a motion in the Circuit Court of the Fifth Judicial District in Big Horn County.

In it, Blatt said, “It is in the best interests of justice that this matter be dismissed without prejudice.”

In his order, Judge Harrington wrote, “The Court, having reviewed the motion and being fully informed in the premises, finds that good cause exists to grant said motion.”

Blatt did not immediately return phone calls left with his office in Powell seeking comment.

Big Horn County and Prosecuting Attorney Michelle Burns issued the following statement:  “The charges were dismissed without prejudice, meaning they are subject to re-filing; as such, it is not appropriate for this office to make comment at this time.”

Blatt was appointed as a special prosecutor in the case on Aug. 22.

In the motion she filed with the Circuit Court, Burns cited the letters that appeared in the Standard as the reason behind her decision to seek a special prosecutor.  Burns alleges that the Standard did not check the accuracy of the claims made by the letter writers and that it should not have published any of the letters while a criminal case was pending. She said that by doing so, it “put her in a position of not being able to effectively carry out her duties as a prosecutor.”

Foley said he and Davis are “thankful that our justice system saw the truth and that they came to the correct decision,” adding, “I want to the thank the people of this community for all of their support and well wishes.”

 

 

 

 

Study considers impact of wildlife warning reflectors

Study determining effects of wildlife warning reflectors on wildlife-vehicle collisions moves to Big Horn County

The Wyoming Department of Transportation and Conservation Research Center of Teton Science Schools are continuing a three-year study this fall and winter to evaluate the effects of wildlife warning reflectors on wildlife-vehicle collisions in Big Horn and Fremont counties.

This fall and winter’s study is limited to the areas between Basin and Greybull on U.S. 16/20, and west of Riverton on U.S. 26.

Part of the study involves covering wildlife warning reflectors with bags to study deer behavior with and without the reflectors working as they are intended.

“The researchers are studying the reflector installations about one mile at a time at night — both with the reflectors uncovered and with the reflectors covered with white canvas bags,” according to Cody Beers, WYDOT public relations specialist in Riverton.

Field research on the three-year study is occurring this fall and winter in Big Horn and Fremont counties. The Teton Science Schools research team will be parking near the highway this fall and winter to conduct its research.

In 2007, WYDOT began installing wildlife warning reflectors (deer delineators) throughout Big Horn, Hot Springs and Fremont counties. Between 2007 and 2010, wildlife warning reflectors were installed west of Riverton on 4.7 miles of U.S. 26 between Kinnear and Riverton, and just north of Kinnear; on six miles of U.S. 16/20 between Greybull and Basin; on 3.3 miles of U.S. 20 between Wind River Canyon and Thermopolis; and on 8.9 miles of U.S. 20 between Thermopolis and Lucerne.

“More than 75,000 wildlife-vehicle collisions have been recorded in Wyoming during the past two decades, and of these, 7,500 have occurred within a 60-mile buffer of Thermopolis,” said Morgan Graham, Conservation Research Center Geographic Information Systems manager and principal investigator of the study.

More than 17 million vehicle miles driven are recorded daily in Wyoming, and Fremont, Big Horn and Hot Springs counties rank seventh, 18th and 23rd, respectively, as counties with the most daily vehicle miles driven. But Big Horn, Hot Springs and Fremont counties also rank first, third and sixth, respectively, in the most wildlife-vehicle collisions per vehicle mile driven in Wyoming.

Graham said the study will determine the effect of the wildlife warning reflectors on the wildlife-vehicle collision rate; will quantify factors that influence wildlife-vehicle collisions; and will examine the effects of wildlife warning reflectors on deer highway crossing patterns and behaviors.

“A properly installed modern wildlife warning reflector system consists of a series of roadside posts with unique reflectors mounted to face across the roadway,” Graham said. “As vehicles pass with headlights on, light is reflected in a moving pattern across the road at various angles. Approaching wildlife will notice the reflected light, causing them to halt until the vehicle and lights have passed.”

The manufacturer of the reflector system (Strieter Corp.) reports a 78 to 90 percent reduction in deer-vehicle collisions, but results of independent studies have varied on systems installed throughout the United States.

“Current information does not provide a definitive conclusion on whether modern deer delineators are effective, nor is it clear if they influence deer behavior,” Graham said. “Our study will provide much-needed data on deer delineator efficacy as a wildlife-vehicle collision mitigation tool. It will address the effect of deer delineators on roadside deer behavior, and it will develop an understanding of deer road crossing selection.”

Graham said results of the study should help WYDOT make future “informed decisions regarding transportation planning, roadway improvements and mitigation recommendations.”

 

Win keeps Buffs alive in playoff hunt

by nathan oster

There are no “gimmes” this year in the Class 2A West Conference, where parity reigns.

Four conference games were played last weekend, and in three of the four, the margin of victory was eight points or less.  The only “blowout” felt like anything but, as Greybull was forced to tough-out a 26-14 win over an amped-up Kemmerer team celebrating its homecoming.

With two weeks left in the regular season, only Lovell has separated itself from the pack, sitting atop the conference standings with a 5-0 record.  Six of the other seven teams sit within a game of each other — either at 3-2 or 2-3 — bidding for the three remaining playoff spots in 2A.

The Buffs are one of those teams on the playoff bubble — and they needed a win in Kemmerer to keep their playoff hopes alive. It didn’t come easily.  Seeking their first win, the Rangers came out fired up and gave the Buffs their best shot.  It wasn’t enough — even against a banged-up Buff team that was missing two starters in Kason Clutter and Kyler Flock and had several others playing through injuries.

Bernhardt said the Buffs had to rely heavily on their freshman, and that after they worked out the jitters in the first quarter, they performed very well.

Kemmerer scored first, opening an 8-0 lead.  But the Buffs scored twice in the second quarter to take a 12-8 lead into the half.  Bernhardt said he sensed the game turned in Greybull’s favor around the start of the second quarter. “Even though the score suggested it was not a blowout, we felt like we controlled the game from the first quarter on.”

The Buffs scored their first two touchdowns on a 26-yard pass from Calder Forcella to Fabian Davila and a 1-yard run by Paul Stewart.  They added to it in the third quarter, going up 18-8 on an 18-yard pass from Forcella to Wyatt Nielson.

Kemmerer closed the gap to 18-14 with a touchdown of its own before the Buffs sealed the deal with 2-yard Forcella run which came with 3:26 to play in the fourth quarter. The two-point conversion that followed, on a pass from Forcella to freshman Cade Dooley, accounted for the 26-14 final.

Bernhardt said the stats don’t do justice to the kind of game Forcella played at quarterback.  “He was on like never before,” the coach said of his junior signal caller. Forcella finished 17 of 25 for 139 yards, but had several passes dropped.

The Greybull ground game, meanwhile, churned out an average of 6.2 yards per attempt, with Forcella finishing with 131 yards and Stewart 64.

“I think our offensive line played its best game of the year,” said Bernhardt, noting that in addition to bulldozing holes for the backs, the line also gave Forcella time in the pocket to pick apart the Ranger defense. The Buffs finished with 334 yards of offense.

On the defensive side, the Buffs did a good job of slowing Kemmerer and its wing T offense, Bernhardt said.  It all added up to a Greybull win, its second in conference play to go against three losses.

“It was probably one of the better feelings I’ve had, as coach, since I’ve been here,” said Bernhardt. “We’ve had several tough losses this season.  After the Lovell game, I added it up and the four teams that beat us were a combined 20-4.  In each of those games, we fought all the way to the end.

“I’m proud of the kids for winning in Kemmerer.  It shows what we’re capable of. Kemmerer was a good football team.  A good bunch of kids. To go on a long road trip like that and get a win, with as many freshmen that contributed, it was a good feeling for everyone — the entire team and all the coaches.”

 

This week

Bernhardt emphasized that it’s now the one-game-at-a-time point of the season, where teams on the playoff bubble run the risk of paying too much attention to what other teams are doing and not enough attention to their own business.

The focus for the Buffs this week will be Big Piney — and that’s it, said the coach.

“Big Piney is one of the teams that pulled off an upset last week by beating Pinedale,” said Bernhardt. “We have to bring our A game. They’re a much improved football team with a good quarterback and they’re going to be coming in here on a high note.  We need to take care of business and get this win. Then we’ll see how things look when we go to Lyman.”

 

Greybull 26, Kemmerer 14

G — Fabian Davila 26 yard pass from Forcella.

G — Paul Stewart 1 yard run.

G — Wyatt Nielson 18 yard pass from Forcella.

G — Forcella 2 yard run (Cade Dooley pass from Forcella).

RUSHING — Greybull 31-195 (Forcella 19-131, Stewart 12-64, Davila 1-0).

PASSING — Greybull (Forcella) 17-of-25 for 135 yards.

RECEIVING — Nielson 7-15, Davila 5-52, Dooley 1-8, Dustin Fox 2-9.

DEFENSIVE STANDOUTS — Payton Gonzalez turned in one of the best games of the season by any Buff, finishing with 32 defensive points on 12 assisted tackled, six solos, two tackles for loss and a pass breakup.  Cody Strauch followed with 24 points, which included 15 assisted tackles.  Logan Jensen followed with 22, which included a sack.  Other defensive leaders included Bryce Wright, 15 points, and Paul Stewart and Fabian Davila, with 14 apiece.

 

 

 

 

Robert Eugene “Gene” Riddle

April 14, 1926 – Oct. 9, 2013

Funeral services for Robert Eugene Riddle were held Oct. 12 at Bryant Funeral Home in Worland. Gene, 87, died Oct. 9 at Spirit Mountain Hospice in Cody.

He was born April 14, 1926, in a small cabin in Ten Sleep, the oldest of four children of Robert Leroy and Frances Riddle. When he was 9 years old he and his younger sister built a child-sized log cabin on the mountain.

Gene enlisted in the U.S. Navy when he was 17 and served on the U.S.S. Sabik in the Pacific. He was present at both the Battle of Leyte Gulf and the atom bomb test at Bikini Island. After his discharge, he returned to Ten Sleep and helped his father run their trucking company. He also sprayed crops in his Piper airplane.

He married Barbara Brown Sept. 17, 1950, in Cody.

He was employed by Mobil Oil Company for 32 years. When he retired in 1986, he was senior production supervisor of a multi-state area, but was based in Wyoming. Innovations he made in the field are still being used today.

He and Barbara moved from Big Piney to Basin after he retired.

Gene enjoyed playing golf with his children and grandchildren, watching the Colorado Rockies play baseball, and was an accomplished fisherman, pilot, carpenter and mechanic.

His parents and two sisters, Lois Mulholland and Joan Riddle, preceded him in death.

He is survived by his wife, Barbara; two sons and daughters-in-law, Darrel and Grace Riddle of Rapid City, S.D. and Dale and Cathy Riddle of Springville, Utah; two daughters and sons-in-law, Jan and Bob Goodrich of Spearfish, S.D., and Joyce and Al Watson of Enid, Okla.; one brother, Kenneth Riddle of Shawnee, Okla.; 10 grandchildren, eight step-grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Memorials will be donated to Special Olympics of Utah (BYU Cougars) Provo, Utah, Worland Ambulance and the Worland Senior Center in care of Bryant Funeral Home, Box 524, Worland, WY 82401.

 

Donald H. Olson

July 29, 1927 – Oct. 15, 2013

Funeral services for Donald H. Olson will be held Saturday, Oct. 19 at 11 a.m. at Atwood Family Chapel in Greybull. Don, 86, died Oct. 15 at Bonnie Bluejacket Memorial Nursing Home from complications of cancer.

He was born July 29, 1927, at Emblem, the son of Olive and Henry Olson. The family later moved to a small place north of Greybull where Don spent most of his life.

He received his education in Greybull and graduated from Greybull High School with the Class of 1945.

He enlisted in the U.S. Navy and was issued his military clothing on V.J. Day.

He married Dawn Van Winkle in 1950. They slowly built a grand house on the home place north of Greybull, and Don resumed his career with the railroad, which began in high school when he worked on a section crew. He served as a clerk from the old CB&Q days, with steam, to the new slick computers of Burlington Northern Santa Fe. He retired in 1989.

Throughout his railroad career he continued to run the small family farm.

Don was a lifetime member of BPOE 1431.

He had an easy smile and a keen sense of humor. In his later years he enjoyed having coffee with his friends at the Sugar Shack.

His parents, Olive and Henry Olson, and sister Florence preceded him in death.

He is survived by his wife Dawn of Greybull; two sons and daughters-in-law, Donald “Bruce” and Peggy Olson of Miami, Fla., and Barry and Ruth Olson of Williamsville, N.Y.; sister and brother-in-law, Frances and Merrill Johnson of Peoria, Ill.; seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

 

Halftime lead vanishes against Bulldogs

by nathan oster

The Greybull Buffs led the No. 1 ranked Class 2A team in Wyoming 12-7 at halftime but couldn’t hold on, surrendering three touchdowns in a 9 minute, 20 second span in the second half of a 28-20 loss to the unbeaten Lovell Bulldogs.

“We knew they were good, but after seeing them in person, they’re even better than we thought they were,” said Coach Justin Bernhardt, whose team dropped to 1-4 overall and 1-3 in Class 2A West Conference play.

One player who certainly stepped for the Bulldogs was their senior running back and linebacker Dillon Pickett, who finished with 205 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries while anchoring the Lovell defense with 13 assisted tackles and four solo stops.

Pickett did most of his damage in the second half.

Early on, though, the Greybull defense held him in check.

In fact, if it weren’t for a momentum-swinging play midway through the second quarter, Lovell might not have scored at all in the first half.   The Bulldogs were facing a fourth-and-long situation at the Greybull 30.  Quarterback Beau Green dropped back to pass, but when the Buffs broke through the line, he was forced to his left. With four Buffs closing in, Green managed to get off a pass, but a Greybull defender got a hand on it, sending the ball skyward.

Had the fallen harmlessly to the ground, the Buffs would have regained possession. Instead, it landed in the arms of Pickett, who turned and raced across the field, making it all the way to the Greybull 1-yard line to set up a first-and-goal for Lovell.  Pickett cashed it in, scoring from a yard out. With the extra point, Lovell moved on top 7-6.

“You’re thinking it’s going to be a sack for a loss of 10 yards and our ball,” said Bernhardt, calling it one of the two plays that turned momentum toward Lovell. “Then that happened … it was kind of like a nightmare in slow motion.

“But that’s kind of been the thing for us this season, especially on defense. Four guys around the ball. It was as if each of them were waiting for someone else to make the play instead of making a game changing play themselves. Kudos to Lovell though for making the play.”

The Buffs got some momentum back before halftime, though.  Wyatt Nielson picked off a Lovell pass with 2:01 to play in the second, giving the Buffs the ball at their own 40-yard line.  Aided in part by a roughing the passer penalty, the Buffs marched all the way to the Lovell goal line.  Calder Forcella capped the drive, scoring on a 4-yard-run with 18 seconds to play in the quarter.

The score sent the Buffs into the locker room with a 12-7 lead, and Bernhardt said he sensed “a good vibe” from the kids at halftime, especially since Greybull was going to be receiving the second-half kickoff.

That drive didn’t go as planned, however.  A fumble gave Lovell a short field, and the Bulldogs took advantage of it, scoring on a 3-yard run by Colin McArthur with 8:15 to play. It was the first of three second half touchdowns for the Bulldogs, who also got runs of 62 and 3 yards by Pickett. Pickett’s final TD scamper came with 10:55 remaining in the game.

The Buffs didn’t go down without a fight.  Calder Forcella and Wyatt Nielson connected for a 27-yard touchdown pass with 2:28 to play.  With the two point conversion, a toss from Forcella to Kason Clutter, the Buffs pulled within a score.  But rather than attempting an onside, the Buffs kicked it deep, hoping they could get a stop.  The Bulldogs didn’t cooperate, picking up a couple of first downs, which allowed them to run out the clock.

“We played with them blow for blow, but those two plays — the deflected pass and the fumble — they killed us,” said Bernhardt.

Lovell finished with a big statistical edge, generating 462 total yards to Greybull’s 298. It took a big second half, though.  The Bulldogs were credited with just 77 rushing yards in the first half, but cranked it up in the second half, generating 253 on the ground for a total of 330.

Bernhardt credited his kids for their resiliency, saying, “They continue to show fight right to the end, which is something we didn’t always see last year.  We’ve played three different No. 1 teams this year, and at no point in any of those games have I sensed any give-up from our kids. They just keep playing, believing, which is impressive.  It would sure be nice to get one of these in the win column, though.”

 

This week

The Buffs suffered two key injuries on Friday night, losing both Kyler Flock and Paul Stewart to shoulder injuries.  Bernhardt said he expects Flock to miss this week’s game; Stewart’s status was uncertain as of Monday.

The longest road trip of the season to date looms this week, as the Buffs will be boarding a bus before sunrise on Saturday morning to make the long trip to Kemmerer, where a 2 p.m. kickoff is planned.

With a 1-3 record, the Buffs will need to take care of business and get some help if they want to make the playoffs. But in the topsy turvy 2A West, stranger things have happened.

“If we pick up wins these next two weeks against Kemmerer and Big Piney, we’ll be right back in the playoff mix,” said Bernhardt.  “Some things have happened — like Pinedale beating Thermopolis the other night — that have clouded the picture a little.  But we just need to do what we can and win the games that are in front of us.”

Through the first four weeks of conference play, Kemmerer is 0-4 and Big Piney 1-3. With wins, the Buffs would move to 3-3 in the conference, which would like setting up a “playoff game of sorts” with 3-1 Lyman in the final week of the regular season.

 

Lovell   0 7 14 7 — 28

Greybull 6 6 0 12 — 20

G — Paul Stewart 3 yard run.

L — Dillon Pickett 1 yard run (Teter kick).

G — Calder Forcella 4 yard run.

L — Colin McArthur 3 yard run (Teter kick).

L — Pickett 62-yard run (Teter kick).

L — Pickett 3 yard run (Teter kick).

G — Wyatt Nielson 27-yard pass from Forcella (Kason Clutter pass from Forcella)

RUSHING — Lovell 55-330; Greybull 29-113 (Calder Forcella 17-77, Paul Stewart 12-36).

PASSING — Lovell 8-of-17 for 132 yards; Greybull 16-of-27 for 185 yards.

RECEIVING — Greybull Kason Clutter 7-101, Fabian Davila 2-8, Wyatt Nielson 1-27, Paul Stewart 1-3, Kyler Flock 4-37, Dustin Fox 1-9.

DEFENSIVE STANDOUTS — Paul Stewart and Bryce Wright tied for the team lead with 20 defensive points.  Included in Stewart’s total were a sack and a pass breakup. Wright led with 14 assisted tackles and 3 solo tackles.   Other point leaders included Wyatt Nielson and Kason Clutter with 19 apiece, and Cody Strauch with 17.

 

Hunters asked to assist in brucellosis surveilance

by nathan oster

From the alphabet soup of diseases that have reared their ugly head to several season modifications that have been adopted by the Game and Fish Department, there’s a lot for hunters to know as they head out into the field in search of their big-game animals.

Big Horn County Game Warden Bill Robertson and Wildlife Biologist Tom Easterly, based in Greybull and Shell respectively, said the animals are out there — especially elk ­— and that the recent storms which brought snow to the Big Horns should help drive them out of the high country.

But the elephant in the room, for hunters who drew elk tags anyway, is the additional level of brucellosis testing that is being required this year in the elk areas 38, 39 and 40. In each of those areas, hunters who drew tags have been sent kits for collecting blood samples.

Easterly emphasized that the two positive tests reported after last year’s fall hunting season showed only that the critters had been exposed to the virus — and not that they were carrying the disease, which of course is a major concern for area livestock producers.

All elk hunters are asked to help with the surveillance effort by not only collecting the blood samples, but by ensuring those samples don’t get too hot or too cold and are sent into the state or dropped off at a G&F collection point.

“We’ll have coolers and signs at a lot of main roads, and we’ll be flooding the area with lots of personnel on the weekends and early in the seasons,” said Easterly.

Easterly said that the positive tests prompted the G&F to make changes to the elk hunting seasons in the Big Horns.

“We were asked to create as much opportunity to harvest elk as we could,” said Easterly. “That’s why we have set Oct. 1 as a start date for some cow hunting seasons.  The bull hunters don’t like it; they don’t think they’ll have the element of surprise on their side if people have been out hunting.

“But those are the elk we need to get tissues from,” noted Robertson.

Easterly said all agencies want to collect as much information as they can about the extent of the brucellosis exposure because this area is presently outside the designated brucellosis watch area.   If the results show that it’s a problem, that area may have to be extended.

“They’ll look at three years worth of data, at a minimum,” said Easterly. “If just one case had been found, a case could have been made it was a coincidence.  But to have two…it suggests there may be something going on.”

One good sign, he said, is that the calf population doesn’t seem to have been impacted. That’s telling because brucellosis, be it in cattle or elk, brings a rise in aborted fetuses.

Both Easterly and Robertson emphasized that elk with brucellosis pose no health risk to humans, and that this time of the year, it’s not a concern because the bacteria is dormant. “It’s not until later in the pregnancy from February on, that it starts to flare up and it can become an issue,” said Easterly. “That’s why we don’t have seasons that go past February.”

Easterly said 500 cow licenses were made available this year in area 38.  Far fewer — 100 in one area, 75 in the other — were made available in areas 39 and 40, in part “to alleviate the concerns of bull hunters.”

In addition to brucellosis, hunters also need to be aware of CWD, chronic wasting disease, as well as EHD, epizootic hemorrhagic disease.

While brucellosis surveillance is the top priority, G&F officials still plan to man check stations and collect samples to test for CWD.  “Not as big of a deal now as it was before, especially since we’ve found some deer with it in the area,” Easterly said. “But we’re still going to be collecting samples.”

Nothing can be done about the EHD problem, however. It is a disease that mostly impacts whitetail deer, but antelope can also be struck down by it. There have been reports of dead deer and antelope being found not only around the Big Horn Basin, but statewide.

“Last year, it hit the Black Hills pretty hard,” said Easterly.

Deer and antelope pick up EHD from gnats, which carry the virus.  Once the animal has been bitten, the virus spreads.  Once again, humans need not worry; EHD affects only the animal that carries it and cannot be spread to humans by consumption.

“There’s not a lot that can be done,” said Easterly. “We do know about it.  Enough samples have been sent in. We know conclusively that it’s here.  We haven’t found the virus yet that causes bluetongue in domestic sheep.  All our indications are that this isn’t bluetongue.  But since it’s been in the area, and could flare up at any time, producers need to be aware that (EHD) is here.

“The threat will go away with a hard freeze.  Gnats will be less active and animals won’t be getting bit as much.”

Animals with EHD hemorrhage internally and bleed to death, said Easterly.  “They get feverish and usually try to get close to a water sources;  that’s why we usually find them by rivers and irrigation ditches.”

Both Easterly and Robertson said night surveys suggest that there are still plenty of whitetails out there for hunters to harvest.  “It hasn’t impacted the population enough where we are going to change the hunting seasons at the last minute,” said Robertson. “But hunters may see fewer of the animals out there.”

 

Seasons

Game officials said that when it comes to specific season information, hunters are always best served by consulting the regulations, which are available at licensing agents throughout the county.

In some cases, hunt areas have been combined.  One example would be the elk area formerly known as area 42; it has been eliminated, through incorporation into a new area 41. “There’s no longer a boundary issue there,” said Robertson.

“Similarly,” added Easterly, “A couple of deer areas have been combined.”

In other areas the G&F has lengthened or shortened seasons, increased or decreased tag types, to address concerns such as crop depredation. While deer numbers are down, crop depredation, if anything, is up.  “It’s the paradox of the wild,” Robertson said.

Easterly said that while deer hunters can expect to find fewer, buck ratios have remained stable.

Elk numbers, meanwhile, are stable to increasing.  “It’s still a thriving population,” said Easterly. “But there again, we have seasons in place to address that growing herd.”

Last spring the G&F held public meetings to discuss the increase in the elk population.

“For the longest time, (the management goal) had been 3,000; we were proposing to move it to 4,000,” said Easterly. “However, there was enough concern about the elk numbers still on the ranges and on private lands that the proposal didn’t go through.  The population objective didn’t change and we will continue to manage for 3,000 in the Medicine Lodge herd unit.”

Added Robertson, “One way to increase the harvest in the herd unit is to attempt to get hunters onto private land.  Last year our Spanish Point hunt management unit was successful enough we were able to continue it this year and expand it to include two other landowners.

“Those areas open with the beginning of the late cow season on Nov. 23.  Permission slips and maps are available through the Game and Fish webpage.”

 

Other seasons

Good news for bird hunters.

Pheasant numbers are good, according to both Robertson and Easterly, and two research projects on sage grouse in the Big Horn Basin reported average to good nesting success for sage grouse, which they both feel should translate over to good success for Hungarian and chuckar partridge as well as turkeys.

The turkey population in the area is doing so well, Easterly said, that there was a proposal in the spring to change the Big Horn Basin and the entire state to general license seasons, meaning hunters could buy them over the counter.

“We had mixed input on that,” said Easterly. “Some were against it, some were looking forward to it. We’ll be taking public comment on it again this spring. (If approved) it would likely mean we’d do away with the fall hunting season we have had the last several years.

“So this may be the last fall season we have in the Big Horn Basin for a while.”

Wellness Center benefits from fundraiser

An estimated $1,400-$1,500 was raised at the annual “Pink Game” between the Lady Buffs and Lady Rebels played Thursday at Buff Gym.

The Lady Buffs might have won the volleyball match, but the real winner was the Women’s Wellness Center in Cody, which will receive all the receipts and use them to fund free mammogram screenings.

Money was raised from sale of pink T-shirts, a bake sale, silent auction and the “money war” waged between Laura Irwin Elementary, Cloud Peak Middle School and Riverside High School.

Rebel Coach Lindsay Schaffner explained that jars were placed in all three schools to see which could collect the most coins during a two-week period.

“By Thursday afternoon (Oct. 3) it was such a close race the students wanted to extend the deadline,” she said. Not really fair, she laughed, because elementary kids don’t have access to “loose change.” At the end of the extended deadline the collective jars contained $500 (RHS won the “war”). A gift basket was auctioned during the weekend volleyball duals and an additional $72 went into the coffers.

The fundraiser is held every year during Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Judge sends Whaley road petition back to commissioners

by karla pomeroy

A road petition that was denied by the Big Horn County commissioners in 2011 is now back in their lap after a district court ruling.

According to a Fifth Judicial District Court ruling by Judge Robert Skar, filed Sept. 23, the issue of a private road petition originally filed by Mary and Patrick Whaley of Shell and Buffalo, is “remanded back to the Board of County Commissioners who shall proceed with Petitioners’ (Whaleys) application for a private road by appointing viewers and appraisers pursuant to Wyoming Statute.”

Big Horn County Attorney Michelle Burns, who met with the Big Horn County commissioners last week in executive session, said “Since it is pending litigation I have no formal comment at this time.”

Whaley’s attorney Greg Goddard said, “The judge’s opinions speaks for itself. He will do a final order, but my understanding, in relation to his opinion, is this will go back to the commissioners to appoint viewers and appraisers.” He said they will locate the most convenient road that does the least amount of damage. There are also other requirements, including if road improvements are needed and the road will be appraised the land for before and after the road is established.

“I expect the commissioners will act with reasonable dispatch,” Goddard

The appeal and civil case was filed by the Whaleys against Flitner Limited Partnership. Flitner Limited attorney Randy Royal said the court will issue a final order that there is to be a private road. The commissioners will then have to determine where that road will be. In that process there is also a determination how much will be paid for the road.

Royal said his client can appeal the judge’s ruling but a decision has not been made at this time.

He said there is also a question of jurisdiction with the Wyoming Legislature changing state law this year with all private road questions bypassing the commissioners and going to district court. While the case was originally filed under the old statute, they are discussing how to proceed in light of the new legislation.

According to the 11-page appeal decision, the Whaleys originally filed an application for a private road with the county commissioners after exhausting other avenues including attempting to purchase easements through private property owned by Flitner Limited Partnership.

The Whaleys are seeking the establishment of a private road from their property easterly along an existing road to a point where the existing road intersects with Forest Service Road 17, commonly referred to as upper Black Mountain Road.

The commissioners denied temporary access on July 14, 2011, and on Nov. 22, 2011, denied the Whaleys’ application for the private road due to “lack of good faith in evaluating an alternative route, specifically lower Black Mountain Road.”

According to court records, the Whaleys land in the Big Horn Mountains east of Shell is surrounded on all sides by other private landowners. There are no easements with the property.

Skar ruled that it is clear that the Whaleys do not have legally enforceable access to their property and that  “it was not reasonable” for the commissioners to rule that it was not clear whether they did or did not have legally enforceable access.

Skar wrote that the evidence presented at the Nov. 8 hearing before the commissioners shows they do not have legally enforceable access because the Whaleys’ property is surrounded by private property and while Flitner Limited Partnership stated in their response that the Whaleys can “reach the lower portion of the Black Mountain Road from an ‘old BLM road’ accessible from Whaleys property in order for Whaleys to access Black Mountain Road they must cross private property.

The judge then addressed the commissioners’ ruling that the Whaleys did not show good faith in providing an alternative route. He ruled, “This court finds there is evidence in the record that the (Whaleys) brought their application for a private road in good faith.” Skar wrote that according to testimony on Nov. 8, 2011, hearing, witnesses for the Whaleys and Flitner Limited, there are two ways to access the Whaleys’ property — lower and upper portions of Black Mountain Road. Mary Whaley testified on Nov. 8, according to the court documents, “she considered both the upper and lower portions of the Black Mountain Road before determining the upper portion was the best route.”

Whaley testified, according to the court record, that the lower portion is harder to travel and difficult to haul a trailer. She also testified the road is rougher and the jolts are hard on her husband’s back.

Skar wrote, “The evidence in the record supports a finding that (the Whaleys) do not have legally enforceable access to their property, and they brought their application for a private road in good faith, with a request for a route that is reasonable and convenient.”