From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 4, Number 32 - November 4, 2004
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Reporter’s Notes

by Cat Urbigkit


Dr. Bret Combs of the U.S.D.A. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service said in an interview Monday that although he has offered a person the newly created federal vet job for western Wyoming, whether that person intends to take the job isn’t yet know. Combs was hopeful that he would know if the position has been filled within the week.

Animal health officials are still a week or two away from knowing the final results on either blood or tissue samples taken from two Teton County cows that recently had field-positive bleeds for brucellosis. After the preliminary positive tests, both of the cows were slaughtered last Wednesday so that tissue samples could be harvested. The National Veterinary Services Center lab is conducting further tests on the blood and the cultures. The two cows were in a herd of about 150 that were classified as a “contact” herd with the Teton County herd that was found to have brucellosis last summer and was subsequently depopulated.

The portable vet lab used in Sublette County earlier this year to examine blood drawn from about a half-dozen county cow herds won’t be coming back to the county this month, while animal health officials bleed two more cow herds. Combs said the lab isn’t set up for use in the winter.

K-8 school

Sublette County School District No. 9 Superintendent Weldon Shelley said in an interview Monday that things went well with the Wyoming School Facilities Commission last week. It was at that meeting that No. 9 officials asked the commission to drop any plans for the Big Piney schools from the state’s five-year plan. The preliminary plan called for a K-8 school in Big Piney and construction of a new school at LaBarge. The delay, if approved by the commission, will allow the district some extra time to learn what impact growth associated with natural gas development will have on the Big Piney schools, while allowing the LaBarge project to move forward.

Wyoming School Facilities Commission Director Jim “Bubba” Shivler concurred with No. 9’s request, Shelley said. The commission is slated to decide the matter at its Nov. 15 meeting, but Shelley expects, with Shivler’s backing, the commission will agree with No. 9.

Wolf litigation

Attorneys for the Wyoming Wolf Coalition filed a motion in federal court last week asking that the coalition’s lawsuit be consolidated with the lawsuit filed by state officials. The state lawsuit challenges the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s rejection of the state wolf management plan.

Wolf Coalition Attorney Harriet Hagemen reported that she consulted with Wyoming Attorney General Pat Crank, who stated that he did not object to the consolidation of the cases, so long as the briefing schedule for the state’s challenge of the rejection of the wolf plan stated intact. Other aspects of the Wolf Coalition case may take longer and be subject to discovery.

The Wolf Coalition has three main contentions: FWS violated law in rejecting the state wolf plan; FWS violated law by failing to manage and control the wolf population in Wyoming; and FWS violated law by failing to prepare a supplemental environmental impact statement to address the impact of wolves occurring outside the Greater Yellowstone region. Hagemen noted that since the two cases involve common questions of law and fact, the court should consolidate the cases and hear them together.

The Greater Yellowstone Coalition, National Wildlife Federation, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, Predator Conservation Alliance and Wyoming Outdoor Council are intervenors in the state lawsuit, siding with federal officials. Park County officials are involved in the litigation as well, challenging the rejection of the state plan.

Both cases have been assigned to be heard by U.S. District Court Judge Alan B. Johnson. The state wolf lawsuit is set for oral argument on Feb. 4, 2005.

Dead wolves

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: “Since October 2003 until the present time, law enforcement special agents in Montana and Wyoming have investigated the deaths of 13 wolves. Two were killed incidental to lawful predator management programs and were not ruled as illegal kills. One was caught in a neck snare set for coyotes and the other pulled an M-44 device set for coyotes. Two other wolves were hit by vehicles, another was a natural mortality, and the cause of death for two others are still being investigated. Six deaths were believed to represent unlawful takings and are under active law enforcement investigation. There is one active prosecution, involving two subjects who killed a wolf in 2002, but the wolf’s carcass was not discovered until 2003. Charges have been filed in the District of Wyoming.”

Split estate

The Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Judiciary Interim Committee will meet at The Inn in Lander on Nov. 11 and 12. On the agenda for the Friday, Nov. 12, afternoon session is proposed legislation dealing with split estates.

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