Latest from The Spokesman-Review
HUNTING — Anyone who's tried to get a coveted big-game hunting tag in a state special permit drawing will relate to the satire in this video. Be sure to watch it all the way through to the clever ending.
I howled with laughter.
HUNTING — Wyoming hunters could use sound suppressors on firearms for all types of hunting under a bill that cleared the state House of Representatives on Wednesday, according to the Casper Star-Tribune.
The House stripped an amendment it had adopted earlier this week that would have allowed silencers for hunting predators and small game but not for big game species such as elk and deer. It passed the final bill 44-14.
The measure earlier cleared the Senate and now heads to Gov. Matt Mead for his consideration.
HUNTING — What are the chances that Wyoming legislators will listen to wildlife enforcement professionals and landowners and keep rifle sound supressors off-limits for hunting?
"The suppressors themselves might not be a total fair chase issue, but when you're talking about extremely long range rifles now, and special high powered scopes, and range finders, and now you throw suppressors in, you're starting to get into a situation where, are you hunting or are you just killing?. And we feel that suppressors are just another step in the wrong direction for that. And we feel it's an issue for the future of hunting."
Roger A. Bredehoft, lobbyist for the Wyoming Game Wardens Association, speaking against legislation that would allow hunters to use silencers on their rifles. - Casper Star-Tribune
SHOOTING — A tip of the hat to a Wyoming newspaper editorial for standing up in the volatile world of firearms debate to call for reasonable limits that would help wildlife enforcement.
The Wyoming House's decision to kill a bill that would have allowed hunters to use sound supressors on their guns seemed like the right decision, but the Senate has reworked to legislation to make it even worse. —Casper Star-Tribune
IN MONTANA, however, the state House of Representatives Tuesday voted 68-32 to allow the use of rifle silencers while hunting wolves after the end of the general elk and deer season.
Supporters said ownership of silencers is highly regulated by the federal government, ensuring against abuse, and argued they would make for a quieter hunting experience. Opponents unsuccessfully argued that landowners should be able to hear where shots are being fired from.
HUNTING — Tough times for deer in a corner of Wyoming, similar to the outbreak that swept through portions of Montana two years ago:
Whitetail deer die-off in NE Wyoming worst in decades
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department said epizootic hemorrhagic disease, or EHD, a disease spread by a biting gnat, has caused the worst die-off of whitetail deer in northeast Wyoming in decades.
FROM PULLMAN — Tweeted this earlier but simply forgot to post it on the blog. Washington State announced today that it will play a home-and-home series against Wyoming, beginning with a game in Pullman in 2015.
The Cougars return the trip in 2018 with a game in Laramie.
Here's a news item from the Associated Press: CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) ― Two environmental coalitions have filed notice that they intend to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the agency's decision to end federal protections for wolves in Wyoming. Both coalitions filed notice Monday in U.S. District Court in Washington, DC, that they intend to sue the agency. The groups are concerned that the state of Wyoming has classified wolves in most of the state as unprotected predators that could be shot on sight. The state has scheduled a trophy wolf hunt in the area around Yellowstone National Park starting Oct. 1. Congress specified that there could be no legal challenges to the recent federal action ending protections for wolves in Montana and Idaho, but there has been no similar protection yet for Wyoming. Click below for a full report from AP reporter Ben Neary in Cheyenne.
The Republicans had Clint Eastwood.Maybe the Democrats should invite Bill Murray to their convention this week. Because the Obama administration produced its version of “Groundhog Day” Friday by removing wolves from the endangered species list in Wyoming. Just like in the movie, the early-morning alarm clock went off for the Northern Rockies and Sonny and Cher began singing “I Got You Babe.” In this case, the environmental rhetoric machine cranked up and brought back disappointed wolf lovers’ favorite lines. “This administration is rewinding the clock and setting wolf recovery back at least a decade based on the numbers alone,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, president of Defenders of Wildlife and a former director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “The goal should be to sustain a fully recovered wolf population, not put it right back on life support”/Rocky Barker, Idaho Statesman. More here.
Question: I believe the reintroduction of wolves into Idaho, Montana and Wyoming was one of the worst environmental moves ever foisted on the states by the federal government. But that's probably the dairy kid in me talking. What do you think?
The federal government will end protections for wolves in Wyoming, the Associated Press reports; today's announcement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service endorses a plan that allows the wolves to be shot on sight in most parts of the state, while retaining protections in certain areas. The move quickly sparked promises of legal challenges from environmental groups. Click below for a full report from AP reporter Bob Moen in Cheyenne. The state would take over management of wolves Sept. 30, and it already has scheduled wolf hunts to start Oct. 1.
Meanwhile, Idaho's wolf hunting season opened yesterday statewide, and runs through January, March or June, depending on the zone.
Harlan J. Edmonds has harbored a major bugaboo against Wyoming RINOs (Republicans in name only) since he first came to the state in 1993 while working for the U.S. Department of Defense at F.E. Warren Air Force Base. He arrived with the expectation of finding “a conservative sanctuary,” he told Liberty’s Torch, a monthly Cheyenne newspaper. Instead, he was bitterly disappointed. “I found the state’s political system to be lousy with liberals and political opportunists.” Not to be confused with rhinos, RINOs, as Edmonds defines them, are counterfeit Republicans — liberal and moderate members of the party and even some closeted Democrats — who somehow have insidiously entrenched themselves in the Wyoming Republican Party’s “big tent.” Edmonds and the five-month-old political action committee he chairs, CROW (Conservative Republicans of Wyoming) want the flaps of the big tent closed to all but true red, white and blue conservatives/Laton McCartney, WyoFile. More here. (Wikipedia illustration)
Question: Izzit just me — or do a lot of self-described "conservative" individuals who are hellbent on purifying the GOP come from some place else?
ENDANGERED SPECIES — The federal government plans to announce an end to Endangered Species Act protections for wolves in Wyoming later this month.
Rather than ending years of wrangling between state and federal officials, however, the move promises to spark legal challenges from environmental groups outraged that the state plans to classify wolves as predators that can be shot on sight in most areas.
Read on for details in a story from the Associated Press.
How will Idaho ever survive without Rex Rammell? Says the itinerant politician who abandoned eastern Idaho for the promise of elective office from north central Idaho: You'll just have to try. After this region turned thumbs down on his legislative ambitions in the May 15 primary, Rammell decided to head into the sunset - make that, sunrise - and go east, young man, to Torrington, Wyo. He's lined up a new career as a veterinarian at the Torrington Livestock Auction. "I've kind of given up on Idaho, to be right honest with you," Rammell told the Tribune's Kathy Hedberg. "Nothing's ever going to change here and people are just going to continue to suffer and I don't want to be a part of it." Nor is this the first batch of sour grapes from Rammell/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here. (SR file photo of Rex Rammell in Sandpoint)
Question: Now that Rex Rammell has left Idaho … who do you think is the most annoying current Idaho politician?
Rex Rammell, unsuccessful candidate for the U.S. Senate, Idaho governor and the Idaho Legislature, and who once joked that Idaho should sell "Obama tags" to hunters, has said he's leaving the Gem State. This morning's Lewiston Tribune reports that Rammell said he plans to move to Torrington, Wyo., next week, when he takes a new veterinary job at the Torrington Livestock Auction. Rammell made the announcement shortly after having four misdemeanor Fish and Game charges dismissed in Idaho County. Rammell had been accused of hunting with a suspended license. He had previously been convicted in 2011 of poaching an elk in Bonneville County. "If I do anything with politics, it won't be in Idaho," Rammell told the Tribune. "I've kind of given up on Idaho, to be right honest with you"/George Prentice, Boise Weekly. More here.
Question: Good riddance?
Girl Scout Bailey Zundel, 10, stacks boxes of Girl Scout cookies for Troop 2132 in the back of a moving truck as they pick up their order of 4900 boxes Tuesday. According to Girl Scouts of Montana and Wyoming, Girl Scouts have sold 157,000 boxes of cookies in Yellowstone County, Mont. They will be delivered over the next couple of weeks. Booth sales by troops start this weekend, and continue through the end of April. (AP Photo/Billings Gazette, Casey Page)
Question: Which kind of Girl Scout cookie is your favorite — Samoas/Caramel deLites, Savannah Smiles, Shout Outs, Tagalongs/Peanut Butter Patties, Thanks-A-Lot (Animal Treasures or All Abouts), Thank U Berry Much, Thin Mints, or Trefoils?
FROM PULLMAN — Our game story is filed and we're back to wrap up WSU's 61-41 win over Wyoming in a CBI quarterfinal.
FROM PULLMAN — OK, so the Zebras are here figuratively. Unless you're counting the officials. For more on WSU's quarterfinal game against Wyoming in the College Basketball Invitational by Zebra Pen, read on.
FROM PULLMAN — The headline is in reference to the question Vince posed in this blog post a few days ago. Seemed like a rhetorical question at the time, huh?
FROM PULLMAN — We haven't done a question-and-answer session with an opposing team's beat writer in quite a while. But since Robert Gagliardi of the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle made himself available this week, we asked him a few questions about the Cowboys. Read on for his answers.
FROM PULLMAN — An opponent, a location and a time has been set for Washington State's second-round game in the College Basketball Invitational. Read on.
PREDATORS — Idaho Fish and Game Department plans to use helicopter gunners and government trappers to kill wolves roaming the Lolo Zone, a remote, rugged area in the north-central part of the state once populated by some of Idaho's biggest elk herds.
Trapping efforts will begin later this month, coinciding with the current hunting and trapping season for wolves, said Dave Cadwallader, the agency's regional supervisor in Lewiston. Helicopter gunning will begin later this winter.
See more details from the AP report.
Montana wildlife commission extends wolf hunt season to Feb. 15
At its meeting on Thursday, the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission voted to extend the state's wolf hunt season from Dec. 31 to Feb. 15, since only 106 of the state's quota of 220 wolves have been killed thus far.
Montana FWP OKs plan to let ranchers use hunters to remove wolves
The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission approved a policy that will allow ranchers to use hunters, as well as federal wildlife agents, to remove problem wolves.
— Helena Independent Record
WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead has budgeted more than $800,000 to manage wolves in the state during the next two years.
That's less than half of what Idaho and Montana are spending with federal support that's likely to evaporate in the next couple of years.
The $808,099 he recommended to the Legislature includes $608,099 for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to manage wolves in the state’s trophy game area in the northwest corner of the state, according to the Jackson Hole News & Guide. Another $200,000 would go to the Wyoming Department of Agriculture to kill wolves involved in livestock depredations in about 85 percent of the state where they are classified as predators.
The wolf management money would come from the Wyoming's general fund. Typically, money for Wyoming Game and Fish comes from hunter revenues.
Here in Washington, it's not clear where the money for managing wolves under the recently approved Wolf Conservation and Management Plan will be generated.
And there's only about $25,000 set aside for compensating ranchers for livestock losses at this time.
FISHING — A channel catfish, of all things, has set the record for traveling the longest distance of any fish in Wyoming fish-tagging history.
Wyoming Game and Fish Department official say the catfish was tagged in June 2007 just below the Kendrick Diversion Dam on Clear Creek east of Sheridan.
Last month, the fish was caught 415-miles away by an angler on the Yellowstone River near Pompey’s Pillar, Mont.
The fish likely traveled down the Powder River into Montana aided by this year’s high water and then turned upstream in the Yellowstone.
Wyoming and the U.S. Department of Interior have announced a deal for delisting wolves in that state, which previously had been excluded from delisting because of its shoot-on-sight policy declaring wolves predators; that still would be allowed in most of the state under the tentative agreement, the Associated Press reports today. Click below for a full report from reporter Ben Neary of the AP in Cheyenne, Wyo.
A nice fellow named Paul Nolan called to say he endorsed the idea of putting an image of the late broadcaster Curt Gowdy on the Wyoming state flag (if the other 49 states were going to go with faces on their banners).
Nolan grew up in Cheyenne in the 1940s, where Gowdy was getting his career started.
Nolan eventually went off to war. When he came back to Wyoming, his high school sweetheart had moved to Spokane. So that's where he headed.
She passed away not all that long ago. But they were married for 62 years.
City of Laramie coroner Kathleen Vernon poses next to the coroner's truck in Laramie, Wyo., last Wednesday. Vernon is the youngest coroner in the state of Wyoming. Since she took office in January, Vernon has worked to win over skeptics, and she’s won praise from Albany County residents and her fellow coroners alike. Story here. (AP Photo/Casper Star-Tribune, Dan Cepeda)
Question: Do you know anyone (besides Digger) who began working in the funeral business at a young age? Have you ever had a desire to be a mortician?
Edgar Steele's lawyers want his murder-for-hire trial moved to Wyoming. A change of venue request filed by Robert McAllister and Gary Amendola cites “negative pre-trial publicity” that will hinder finding an impartial jury in North Idaho. The lawyers say ongoing news coverage, including the release of phone calls that are the basis for a witness tampering charge against Steele, was assisted by the U.S. government or Spokane County Jail officials. “There was no need for anyone to release evidence in a criminal case to the media other than to gain an unfair advantage,” according to the motion/Meghann Cuniff, Sirens & Gavels. More here.
Question: Can Edgar Steele get a fair trial in Kootenai County?
Edgar Steele's lawyers want his murder-for-hire trial moved to Wyoming.
A change of venue request filed by Robert McAllister and Gary Amendola cites "negative pre-trial publicity" that will hinder finding an impartial jury in North Idaho.
The lawyers say ongoing news coverage, including the release of phone calls that are the basis for a witness tampering charge against Steele, was assisted by the U.S. government or Spokane County Jail officials.
"There was no need for anyone to release evidence in a criminal case to the media other than to gain an unfair advantage," according to the motion.
The phone calls were actually made from the Kootenai County Jail - not Spokane, where Steele has since been housed. The Spokesman-Review obtained the recordings after they were played in open court at Steele's bail hearing last June.
McAllister and Amendola want the trial moved to U.S. District Court in Cheyenne, Wyo., where potential jurors who "know nothing about the negative and highly prejudicial pre-trial publicity" are available. If the request is denied, the lawyers want to conduct "careful and deliberate voir dire examination" regarding pre-trial publicity.
Federal prosecutors have until Thursday at 5 p.m. to respond.
Steele is accused of hiring a hitman turned FBI informant to kill his wife, Cyndi Steele. Prosecutors say he was involved with another woman overseas. In a prepared statement, Cyndi Steele says she knew of the woman, who she says was contacted by her husband as part of his ongoing legal work to stop human trafficking.
The trial is set to begin March 7.
The Daily Beast has ranked the states in terms of most tolerant (Wisconsin) to least tolerant (Wyoming). Idaho finished 45th of 50 states — or as the sixth least tolerant state in The Daily Beast rankings. You can see Boise Weekly's story about the rankings here.
- 41. Kentucky
- 42. North Dakota
- 43. Arizona
- 44. Utah
- 45. Idaho
- 46. Ohio
- 47. Nebraska
- 48. Kansas
- 49. Arkansas
- 50. Wyoming
Question: Are you surprised that Idaho finished below all southern states but Arkansas?
State legislators in the neighboring states of Wyoming and Montana are working on bills that would end teacher tenure. Not everyone is happy about the prospects of the change, especially teacher associations in the two states. Besides sharing geographic borders, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho all share another trait – heavily-Republican legislatures. With the anti-tenure ideas coming from Republicans in the other states, one might wonder if a similar plan could – or should – come to the Gem State anytime soon. Rep. Steve Thayn, R-Emmett, is a member of the House Education Committee. Thayn says that he would like to have the discussion about enduing tenure, but wouldn’t make a firm commitment to supporting the idea/Dustin Hurst, Idaho Reporter. More here.
Question: Would you like to see Idaho end teacher tenure?
WILDLIFE — A federal judge says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was wrong to refuse to turn management of gray wolves over to the state of Wyoming.
Judge Alan B. Johnson of Cheyenne today ordered the federal agency to consider again whether Wyoming’s wolf management plan would be adequate to meet federal recovery goals for wolves, according to an Associated Press report.
Environmental groups and others have criticized the Wyoming plan for specifying that wolves would be classified as predators that could be shot on sight in most areas. The Wyoming plan would protect wolves only in the northwestern part of the state.
Concerns over Wyoming’s plan recently prompted a federal judge in Montana to strip Idaho and Montana of their authority to manage their own wolf populations. The decision forced the two states to cancel hunting seasons established to help keep the wolf numbers in check.