Virtual wolf meeting hijacked by heckler
December 10, 2020
POWELL (WNE) — Not even an obscure Zoom meeting of the Wyoming Animal Damage Management Board could escape 2020 unscathed.
As about 16 state and federal officials discussed the compensation offered to producers who lose livestock to wolves in certain parts of the state, their progress was briefly slowed by an outburst from an unknown person in attendance at Tuesday’s virtual meeting.
The board was carefully considering how to respond to a portion of a four-part comment on the compensation program when a man only known as “Robert” voted nay. His vote went largely unnoticed, being in the vast minority.
But as the board considered their reply to another portion of the public comment, Robert interrupted with a largely unintelligible string of profanities and racial slurs.
While there have been many documented cases of people crashing Zoom meetings since the start of the pandemic, it was a bit shocking to most in attendance that someone found the group replying to comments on wolf depredation compensation within Wyoming’s predator zone — let alone spent time attempting to sabotage the meeting.
It was about 14 minutes into the board’s discussion that the profanities and slurs began.
“Oh good, that’s handy,” Doug Miyamoto, co-chair of the board and director of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture, sarcastically remarked.
Jerry Johnson of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, who was administering the meeting, eventually was forced to remove Robert and the board continued after apologies and a couple chuckles.
“That was a first for me,” Johnson said.