From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 3, Number 6 - May 8, 2003
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Bad skeeter problem tackled

by Cat Urbigkit

It might have been cold outside, but the inside of the Sublette County Courthouse was abuzz with mosquito problems Tuesday.

Sublette County Commissioners broached the mosquito problem at three different points in their deliberations.

Karen Harrower and Peggy Winters spoke to the commissioners about the Pinedale mosquito abatement district.

Harrower said both she and Don Tegeler are resigning from the district board due to concerns with West Nile Virus.

Harrower feels the county needs to get a more adequate program in place, perhaps combining the county's mosquito abatement districts.

"For now, I think more needs to be done," Harrower said, to combat the threat posed by the virus.

Dr. J. Thomas Johnston, county public health officer, told the commission, "To my way of thinking, the only logical way of dealing with the problem ... is to control mosquito larvae," as well as adult mosquitoes.

Johnston said while there is a vaccine for horses, the risk that needs to be addressed is to humans.

Commissioner Betty Fear said it is her understanding that the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management will not allow spraying on lands administered by those agencies.

"If you're concerned about public health, you can put the squeeze on them," Johnston said, to change such a policy, if it exists, noting it is a public health issue.

Johnston said if the county wants to develop an effective program, perhaps it needs to hire a reputable person to head the effort in a separate county division, with the potential of having eight or nine employees to handle the issue countywide.

"We can't take care of mosquitoes without another empire, is that what you're saying?" Fear asked.

Johnston suggested the commission needs to decide about the issue of doing the greatest good for the greatest number of people because "if you're going to be all things to all people, you can't do anything." He suggested the better tactic is to "do a certain amount for the most you can do it for," by providing a high-intensity program during the height of mosquito season in human population densities in the county."

Johnston was among several people who suggested Les Burrough might be just the person to develop Sublette County's program. The commission agreed to offer Burrough $1,000 to outline a Sublette County program by the commission's May 20 meeting. The commission also formally appointed Johnston to a four-year term as the county public health officer, a position he has held since 1959.

Later Tuesday afternoon, Randy Bolgiano and Jim Bousman came to talk to the commission about West Nile Virus. They were pleased to learn the commission had already agreed to make the offer to Burrough.

"There is no question he is the man for the job," Bousman said.

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