Wyoming News Exchange 

Wyoming News Briefs, Friday, Feb. 28


February 27, 2020

Woman sues VA for wrongful death

CHEYENNE (WNE) — The Cheyenne Veterans Affairs Medical Center and other VA agencies are being sued for wrongful death over alleged medical negligence.

Victoria Pike, as the wrongful death representative for William Pike, filed a lawsuit Feb. 18 in U.S. District Court against the United States and the Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration and related agencies. William Pike was 66 years old when he died July 10, 2018.

The lawsuit is demanding a jury trial and is alleging two negligence claims, a wrongful death claim and a loss of consortium claim.

Samuel House, public affairs officer with the Cheyenne VA, said the VA cannot discuss ongoing litigation or issues that revolve around litigation. Bruce Asay, attorney for Victoria Pike, said he cannot comment on the case at this time.

According to court documents, William Pike had medical issues, including Agent Orange-related diabetes and a non-healing wound to his lower-right leg. During his treatment in 2015, his wound became infected, and stents were implanted in it by VA medical personnel in Denver to help with circulation.

The lawsuit alleges the stent implants caused the infection to spread and were misplaced, which created further leg damage. It also alleges that the following year when William Pike visited the Cheyenne VA Medical Center complaining of a severe cough, his requests for a chest X-ray was disregarded. When an X-ray was later taken, according to the lawsuit, it was misread, causing a failure to detect lung cancer until the cancer was “advanced and aggressive.”

Before his death, William Pike filed a claim with the VA over his mistreatment, and his claim for mistreatment was denied. He appealed that denial, and was denied a second time, which allowed for this lawsuit.


Jonah Energy cuts back jobs, drilling

PINEDALE (WNE) – Jonah Energy cut its local workforce by seven field positions recently and will not renew its contract for two drilling rigs that have been positioned in the Jonah Field.

“We have two existing rig contracts we are not renewing in a couple of weeks,” said Jonah Energy vice president Paul Ulrich. “Without an active drilling program, some positions are no longer needed.”

Ulrich said the company would renew the rig contracts full time in July, after the winter wildlife stipulation season ends, citing the natural gas market’s “near historic lows.”

“We have a responsibility to our Sublette County work force to make the hard decisions that keep us in business here,” he said Thursday. “Our responsibility is what’s best for long-term viability so we can keep going strong.”

He emphasized that the company is financially strong.

“We still have more than 100 employees in Sublette County working on behalf of Jonah Energy and a tremendous amount of contractors.”

Jonah Energy also eliminated 11 positions in Denver, he said.


Grand Teton National Park speaks on goat kill: 36 removed

JACKSON (WNE) — Four days after hired gunners flew what unexpectedly became a one-day mission, Grand Teton National Park released results.

“Thirty-six of the approximately 100 mountain goats were removed,” the park announced in a series of bullet points emailed Tuesday. “No additional aerial operations are planned. The closure of the central Teton Range is lifted.”

After U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt intervened Friday, Grand Teton suspended the long-planned operation to eradicate nonnative goats. On Tuesday the park announced that the agency would instead develop a “skilled volunteer culling program” using “trained volunteers” and “ground-based methods” as early as fall 2020.

The park’s bullet points make the case that the cull will not resemble a traditional hunt.

Participants won’t be able to keep their “trophy,” the statement said, though the meat “may” instead be distributed to the volunteers themselves or to food banks after it’s screened and deemed suitable for consumption. Licenses will not be sold for the program, and the culling will be conducted “under controlled circumstances with the supervision of National Park Service personnel.”

Park officials declined an interview request for this story and have declined to answer questions or make Acting Superintendent Gopaul Noojibail available to the media since the operation started.

Jackson Hole resident Joan Anzelmo, a retired National Park Service public affairs specialist and superintendent, was appalled at the lack of transparency surrounding the goat removal operation. Park officials withholding basic information for several days about the operation — one not related to an ongoing investigation — is “very extreme and unprecedented,” she said.


Officials seek information in poisoning deaths of eagle and ravens

ROCK SPRINGS (WNE) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department continue to seek information in the poisoning deaths of a golden eagle and ravens in Sweetwater County nearly four years ago.

In March of 2016, investigating officials responded to an area southwest of Wamsutter, west of the Eureka Headquarters. They recovered the bodies of one golden eagle and four ravens along with poison-laced baits, according to a press release.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is asking for the public’s help and offering a reward of up to $2,000 for information leading to the successful arrest and conviction of the people associated with the poisoning of these and other animals in Wyoming. Individuals submitting information leading to a conviction can be eligible for a reward through the Wyoming Wildlife Protector's Association as well. People who report information can remain anonymous.

The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act protects bald and golden eagles, and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act protects eagles and ravens. Golden eagles are considered a declining species in many areas of the United States, and the poisoning incident further imperils the species.

Those who have any information about this or any wildlife poisoning in Wyoming can contact the Lander Office of Law Enforcement at 307-332-7607 or [email protected] or contact the WGFD Stop Poaching Hotline at 1-877-WGFD-TIP (1-877-943-3847). Calls will be accepted day or night and on holidays. Violations can also be reported contacting local game wardens or by by texting “WGFD” to TIP411 (847-411) or through wgfd.wyo.gov.


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