Wyoming News Briefs MARCH 30
March 26, 2020
Game and Fish: shed season start nudged to noon
JACKSON (WNE) — Antler gatherers and the wardens who police them will no longer have to deal with the darkness as they set out on Wyoming’s shed hunting season.
Instead of midnight May 1, the season will from now on open at 12 p.m. May 1 on public lands in western and southern Wyoming, where shed hunting is banned from December through April.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission made the decision back in January, when it also expanded the seasonal closure zone to southeast Wyoming’s Snowy Range and Sheep Mountain. The department announced the change with a press release Wednesday.
“My local guys sit at the gate at midnight with 10 or 12 guys sitting there waiting,” Commissioner Ralph Brokaw, of Arlington, said at the January meeting. “I think they’re family men and women, and I don’t think they should be out in the dark doing that.”
Brokaw suggested amending the start time to 8 a.m., an idea that received a favorable reaction. Then Mike Schmid, of La Barge, proposed pushing it to midday.
“It just gets everybody out there in the broad daylight at a reasonable time of day,” he said.
Other commissioners and one member of the public who spoke up were on board with changing the start time, hopeful that it will be safer and that it will cut down on the chaos and illegal pre-midnight activities.
One man pointed out a 2015 incident in Teton County when a shed hunter’s horse drowned while he was trying to ford the Gros Ventre River at night.
Shoshone National Forest campgrounds closed at least through April 30
RIVERTON (WNE) — The Shoshone National Forest began closing all campgrounds on Friday, March 27, for the health and safety of visitors and staff. SNF officials said campgrounds will be closed until at least April 30, at which point they will be reevaluated.
The Shoshone National Forest continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation and evaluate potential impacts and adjustments to reservations and reservation policies through Recreation.gov.
Reservation holders will be notified via e-mail and/or cell phone text messages of any changes affecting their reservation.
“In the event of delayed openings of some, part or all of the campgrounds and cabins to ensure safe social distancing, a six-foot physical distance, you will receive a full refund for your reservation,” said SNF public information officer Kristie Salzmann.
Given the demonstrated risk of exposure to coronavirus from large, concentrated gatherings of people, USDA Forest Service officials are temporarily discouraging continued recreational use on the national forests and grasslands.
“Safe and responsible use of national forests and grasslands will reduce impacts to local communities who may be at risk from the virus,” Salzmann said. “Crowded conditions at parking areas, trailheads, and popular forest destinations are creating a risk of further spread of coronavirus and undermining this country’s critical efforts to contain the spread.
“By closing campsites and group recreation sites, the USDA Forest Service is taking necessary measures to safeguard the health of employees and the public.”
For the most current and accurate information about the COVID-19 outbreak, the SNF recommends contacting local health officials. Or, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at http://www.cdc.gov.
Teton County sheriff: crime is down amid pandemic
JACKSON (WNE) — A DUI arrest Saturday didn’t result in the usual overnight stay in the Teton County Jail.
The offender’s car was towed, detention officers took a booking photo and then a sober friend came and agreed to take responsibility for the defendant. The “third-party release” as the Teton County Sheriff’s Office calls it, is a new effort to lessen the chance of exposing inmates and jail staff to the coronavirus.
“We are trying to give as many cite and releases as possible,” Lt. Chett Hooper said.
Defendants then are assigned a court date so that accountability isn’t lost in the process. There are only 12 people in custody in Teton County as of Tuesday, and most have been there since before the start of the worldwide pandemic.
Violent offenders are still being arrested, but the jail has a quarantine protocol in place under which the new inmate will stay in a holding cell for five days and then be transferred to a block of the jail that officers have set aside as the quarantine area.
On any given weekend up to four people would be in what’s commonly referred to as the drunk tank, but because area restaurants and bars are closed there haven’t been as many public intoxication arrests.
“With all the bars closed we don’t have the bar crowds to deal with at all right now,” Hooper said. “The numbers of public intoxications and DUIs are drastically reduced.”
The Sheriff’s Office has also suspended in-person inmate visitation, which will be reassessed next week.
Of the dozen inmates currently housed at the Teton County Jail, none are showing symptoms of COVID-19, Hooper said.
Sheridan City Council passes emergency ordinance allowing liquor delivery
SHERIDAN (WNE) — Liquor license holders in Sheridan County affected by the COVID-19 closures will be able to deliver packaged wine, malt beverages and liquor within city of Sheridan limits following Sheridan City Council unanimously authorized an emergency ordinance Friday afternoon.
The ordinance goes into effect immediately until the next regularly-scheduled board meeting April 6.
Several liquor license holders tuned into the discussion Friday, including the liquor license dealers association attorney, Tony Wendtland.
Dealers spoke up and said their customers wanted hard liquor delivered as well, so council amended the ordinance to reflect liquor to be included in delivery options for liquor license holders.
Council voted unanimously against limiting patrons receiving liquor purchases to a certain amount, outside of not receiving kegs via delivery. Delivery items may include malt beverages, wine and liquor items only in their prepackaged vessels. Mixed drinks cannot be delivered under this ordinance.
State statute does not allow liquor dealers to sell for the purpose of offsite consumption, but Kerns said he learned from other professionals the city may use “home rule” for this, thus instituting the emergency ordinance.
Sheridan City Councilor Patrick Henderson said this action by council allows for greater economic viability for those businesses suffering under current closure laws, which Gov. Mark Gordon announced Friday would be extended until April 17.
“By doing this we’re going to hopefully keep some payroll and some jobs,” Henderson said. “I think from a social distancing standpoint this is good, and we can nuke it after 30 days, so I support it.”