State Briefs

Cheyenne jail near capacity as Frontier Days nears

CHEYENNE (WNE) — Laramie County’s jail was nearing capacity Friday, just a week before thousands of people flock to the area for Cheyenne Frontier Days.

As of Friday afternoon, about 300 people were housed in the Laramie County jail, with about 16 to be released that afternoon through court orders and several more to be picked up by the Wyoming Department of Corrections, according to Detention Division Security Lt. Shawn Olsen.

Jail capacity usually sits at about 334 people, he said. “[Having all 334] would be pretty tight.”

Frontier Days almost certainly will mark an increase in the number of people being arrested by law enforcement, but it doesn’t necessarily mean there will be a significant amount of intakes at the jail.

“Every year is different; we never know what we’re going to get,” Olsen said. “The last few years have been normal business, a little heavier than usual.”

People stay in jail for a number of reasons. They may be serving time on a misdemeanor offense, unable to post a bond set by a judge or awaiting transport to a Wyoming Department of Corrections facility.

Olsen said while it’s hard to pin down why numbers have remained steadily high recently, drug offenses have been especially prevalent.

“[Local law enforcement] has been averaging about ten arrests a night, which is a lot,” he said.

“It’s a lot more drugs involved, and those people generally sit in jail for a little bit longer.”

If the jail gets filled to capacity, deputies will transport people to jails around the state while Laramie County foots the bill.

Claims could be submitted for damage done by trophy game

PINEDALE (WNE) — An amended state regulation could add gray wolves to the list of wildlife that cause property damages that owners could claim for compensation by the state.

Wyoming Game and Fish posted the draft version of Chapter 28 regulation “Governing Big or Trophy Game Animals, Game Bird or Gray Wolf Damage Claims” on July 9.

Trophy game animals are black bears, grizzly bears or mountain lions – or gray wolves in the state’s trophy-game areas.

The newly edited regulation removes the word “landowner” and inserts “claimant” to include those leasing private land or adjacent to it.

People who seek compensation for damages to livestock, feed, crops and other property caused by big game and game birds – and possibly trophy game and gray wolves if the regulation is approved – must allow hunting the species on the property to be eligible.

For example, a claimant cannot apply for compensation for elk damages to haystacks without allowing elk hunting in season at no charge, to the number estimated to have caused the damages. The damages must be confirmed and verified by Game and Fish as “more likely than not” that a particular animal caused them.

The draft regulation adds a section on livestock damages by trophy game animals or gray wolves, how and when injuries and kills should be reported and how compensation is calculated.

The calculations for sheep and cattle “believed to have been damaged” in areas occupied by wolves and grizzlies are included. For example, individual sheep and calves are each compensated at seven times the market value of the livestock.

A public meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, July 24, at 6 p.m. at the Casper Regional Game and Fish Office. Game and Fish is accepting written comments through 5 p.m., Aug. 20.

Grand Teton’s Hidden Falls closed

JACKSON (WNE) — Grand Teton National Park officials say there is no estimate for when the park’s popular Hidden Falls area will reopen to the public.

The 100-foot waterfall on the southwestern shore of Jenny Lake is one of the park’s most popular hikes. Park rangers closed the falls to public access on Tuesday after detecting a growing and potentially unstable 100-foot-long crack in the rock buttress above the viewing area for the falls.

Park staff is monitoring the crack daily and consulting with U.S. Geological Survey specialists from afar but, so far, have not been able to confidently say if the area is safe for the masses.

“We’re really going to need a few more days of data to make a solid determination if the rock is still moving,” park spokesman Andrew White said Friday.

Following data collection, park rangers will conduct a “risk assessment” to determine if the area can be reopened, he said. White emphasized that much of the Jenny Lake area remains open. Jenny Lake Boating is operating, and other sites on the west side of the lake, including Cascade Canyon, remain accessible.

The Hidden Falls viewing area and hiking route to Lower Inspiration Point recently underwent major renovations as part of the $19 million Jenny Lake Renewal Project, now in its fifth and final year of construction.

Exum Mountain Guides staff first observed the fissure on the buttress above Hidden Falls on Monday while training guided climbers for Teton ascents. By the next morning the gap had widened, and park rangers decided to close the area in “an abundance of caution” to ensure visitors wouldn’t be in the path of potential rockfall.