State Briefs

Game and Fish reduces allowable female grizzly kills to one

JACKSON (WNE) — State wildlife managers have halved the number of female grizzly bears that hunters could target this fall, a change that means hunters will be limited to one-at-a-time access in the core of the species’ range in Wyoming.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department announced Thursday that it downsized its female grizzly hunt quota from two bears to one during the 2018 season. It’s a significant change because it means the grizzly hunt in much of the Yellowstone region will now be shut down after a single sow is killed. The reduction came after a debate over whether Wyoming rightly “rounded up” its 1.45-bear share of the female grizzlies that can be legally hunted in the tristate Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Game and Fish Chief Game Warden Brian Nesvik said the change is not a concession that Wyoming erred, but was rather made out of caution.

“It seemed like a conservative approach and the right thing to do,” Nesvik said.

Montana and Idaho officials agreed during a winter meeting that Wyoming could hunt two female grizzlies, he said.

“We all agreed at that meeting … that we would start with two female bears,” Nesvik said. “And that hasn’t changed. We still believe that is the agreement and that is the authority that exists.”

Outside an ecosystem-interior “demographic monitoring area,” Wyoming has more leeway over its grizzly hunt, and there is no separate cap on the number of female grizzlies. A total of 12 grizzlies could be killed in the outskirts area, known as hunt zone 7, this fall, and, technically, all could be grizzly sows.

Saratoga’s water named best in state

SARATOGA (WNE) — There’s nothing like a good glass of water to go with a boiling hot day during the summer.

Saratoga residents will be drinking what’s considered the best water of the state this year as they were named the 2018 Best Tasting Drinking Water winner in the state of Wyoming during the 27th annual Wyoming Association of Rural Water System Technical Conference and Industry Trade Show in Casper.

Wyoming Rural Water Executive Director Mark Pepper said independent judges checked for odor, clarity and taste during the competition and judged the elements on a 10-point scale.

“The odor could range from, ‘Can you smell the different disinfection in it or does it have any kind of a smell, sulfur?’ Anything like that,” Pepper said. “Then it moves to the clarity.

According to Pepper, clarity judging is done by checking the water for traces of particles and bacteria.

Pepper said finalists included Chugwater, Saratoga, Ten Sleep and the Aspen-Pines Water and Sewer District.

“They have been in the finals repeatedly,” Pepper said. “I think this might have been their eighth or ninth trip to the finals, so it was kind of fun to see Saratoga win.”

Saratoga Mayor Ed Glode said the city transitioned nine years ago from using river water to using five wells east of town as a result of cleaning difficulties during the summer and the water has been good ever since.

Saratoga topped 20 other registered entries, but Pepper added that there are 334 municipal/public water systems in Wyoming and not everyone entered.

Saratoga will compete in the Great American Taste contest in Washington D.C. next February.

Gillette man dies after being injured in rollover

GILLETTE (WNE) — A 21-year-old Gillette man who rolled his vehicle several times near the Gillette Thunder Speedway at about 6:30 p.m. Thursday has since died at Campbell County Memorial Hospital, said Highway Patrol Lt. Will Zilka.

Cody Sams was driving east on Highway 51 at about 85 mph and went into the westbound lane to pass a vehicle that also was heading east but was traveling about 55 mph, Zilka said. While he was in the westbound lane, he saw a vehicle heading toward him at about 55 mph.

To avoid a head-on collision, he swerved quickly back into the eastbound lane and lost control of his 1991 Suburban. Sams, who wasn’t wearing a seat belt, then went off the side of the road and rolled several times down a steep embankment.

The two other vehicles were not involved in the crash.

Sheriff’s officers, Highway Patrol troopers and the Campbell County Fire Department all responded to the crash. Highway Patrol is completing a crash investigation. The Fire Department helped emergency medical services put Sams in an ambulance and he was then taken to the hospital.