Wyoming Briefs Oct. 13, 2023


October 12, 2023

Chronic wasting disease again detected near Jackson

JACKSON (WNE) — The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has detected chronic wasting disease in a mule deer in a hunt area that includes Bondurant and stretches north, south and east from the small town.

The location in question is Hunt Area 154, which includes the Dell Creek drainage and Jack Creek Basin north of Highway 191. It also includes Rim Draw to the east and Noble Basin and Coyote Gulch to the south. The hunt area is bordered by three other hunt areas where chronic wasting disease has already been detected: 142, 152 and 155. Hunt Area 155 includes the National Elk Refuge.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department newly detected chronic wasting disease in Hunt Area 155 in 2022, finding it in a hunter-harvested mule deer in the Gros Ventre mountains east of the refuge.

The deer that tested positive in Hunt Area 154 this year was a buck killed by a hunter this September.

Chronic wasting disease is 100% fatal for deer, elk and moose that have been infected. State wildlife officials and federal health experts recommend that hunters test their animals for the disease.

Health experts warn that people shouldn’t eat contaminated meat.

While there has never been a case of chronic wasting disease transferring to humans, the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention don’t want to take the chance. A study has shown the disease can spread to chimps that eat infected meat.

The primary way Game and Fish tracks the progression of CWD in the state is through hunter harvest.

This story was published on October 12, 2023.


Wyoming Insight report says mining sector revenues improve

CHEYENNE (WNE) —- Wyoming’s mining sector has strengthened, according to the September issue of The Wyoming Insight, an energy index and business indicators report for the state.

“The West Texas Intermediate monthly average price for crude oil was $89.43 per bbl. in September,” said Dylan Bainer, principal economist for the state’s Economic Analysis Division. Average active oil rigs were 18 in September, and the conventional gas rig count was four.

A year ago, there were 20 oil rigs and four conventional gas rigs.

“Natural gas spot prices at the national benchmark (Henry Hub) increased slightly,” Bainer said. “Spot prices at the Opal Hub, which mostly reflect markets in the West (particularly California), fell compared to last month.”

This is the 25th consecutive month mining sector collections have increased year-over-year. Total collections summed to $87.7 million, $2.3 million (+2.7%) more than September last year.

Oil and gas employment is still down compared to pre-pandemic levels but is slowly improving.

“Oil and gas employment in the state numbered 9,200 jobs in August 2023, 300 more than August last year,” said Bainer.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic started to have a large impact on the economy in April of 2020, oil and gas employment in the state numbered nearly 12,000 jobs.

Mining employment is still down compared to pre-pandemic levels.

“Relative to February 2020 (before the pandemic hit the labor market in March 2020), total employment has surpassed pre-COVID levels, but employment in the mining sector has still not fully recovered,” said Bainer. Compared to February 2020, employment in the mining sector in August 2023 was down 2,600 jobs.

This story was published on October 13, 2023.


Missing man found safe in North Dakota

JACKSON (WNE) – Family and friends are breathing a sigh of relief now that a missing 56-year-old man is confirmed safe.

Jackson police confirmed that Mike Pursel is now living in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The Police Department sounded the alarm that Pursel was missing Oct. 4 after friends and family hadn’t heard from him since late September.

Pursel was working at a downtown hotel and living in Jackson for three months at the time he disappeared. His mother, Linda Goeppinger, who lives in the Mojave Desert in California, said she last heard from him Sept. 17.

Grand Forks law enforcement contacted Jackson police, who then notified Goeppinger on Wednesday morning that her son was safe, although she said she was hesitant to believe the news until she heard her son’s voice Wednesday evening.

“He lost his phone and lost his eyeglasses,” Goeppinger said. “He was walking to his camp and they fell out of his pocket.”

Pursel left Jackson Sept. 28 because the snow was coming and he had no accommodations. Goeppinger confirmed Pursel had been camping in the area and has been unhoused for 20 years. Pursel, an outdoorsman who enjoys traveling, has been coming in and out of Jackson since the 1970s.

In Grand Forks “he was lucky to get housing, so that made him really happy,” Goeppinger said. “I think he’s tired of camping out.”

Pursel also picked up a new phone. Goeppinger didn’t know if Pursel had plans to return to Jackson.

She shared that Pursel was surprised at the response his disappearance received.

“I really didn’t realize that many would miss me,” Goeppinger recalled Pursel saying. “He didn’t realize he had so many friends and people that cared.”

This story was published on October 13, 2023.


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