wolves evade capture

By Jim Stanford on March 13, 2012

Comments: 26 Comments

A federal biologist has been unable to shoot the wolves by helicopter because they are staying near residential areas.

Two weeks after a federal wildlife manager said he planned to kill them, wolves are still roaming the south end of Jackson Hole near residential areas and ranches.

Mike Jimenez, wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said there are just two wolves — one white and one black, possibly a mating pair. The predators remain comfortable on the periphery of the Indian Trails, Indian Springs and Cottonwood Park neighborhoods and even south Wilson, near Fall Creek Road, he said.

Because the wolves often are in these areas, Jimenez has been unable to fly in a helicopter and shoot them with darts.

“It’s just not a place we can do anything,” he said. There have been no reports of wolves harassing pets, people or livestock since an Indian Trails homeowner posted a video Feb. 23 of wolves crossing his backyard, Jimenez said.

Jimenez has been tracking the wolves from the ground and by airplane. The animals have ranged from the southern end of the valley, near the South Park elk feedground, across Highway 22 to the north and as far west as Wilson. Their behavior is consistent with wolves establishing a home territory, he said.

“We know where they are, but they’re in small pockets at the far end of a field, or in someone’s backyard, and that’s not an appropriate spot” to capture and euthanize them, he said.

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Posted under Environment, Politics, Wyoming Legislature

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South Park wolves to be exterminated

By Jim Stanford on February 27, 2012

Comments: 64 Comments

This photo of wolves in Indian Trails by Tim McClure, shared on Facebook and published in the Jackson Hole Daily in January, first sounded the alarm among South Park residents and prompted a flood of calls to authorities.

After being inundated with complaints, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has decided to kill the small group of wolves roaming the South Park area.

Mike Jimenez, the service’s wolf recovery coordinator for Wyoming, plans to dart three or four wolves by helicopter in the coming days, once the predators move into a suitable area away from a residential neighborhood.

The decision follows standard practice, Jimenez said today in a phone interview. The agency has had to take similar action in other towns around the region, although this is the first time in Jackson, he said. With wolves inside the city limit, passing through the Indian Trails neighborhood and even using streets, conflicts are inevitable, he explained.

“At some point, there’s a line where we’ve gotten an unbelievable amount of calls,” Jimenez said.

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Posted under Environment, Politics, Wyoming, Wyoming Legislature

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stimulus for sorcerers

By Jim Stanford on November 9, 2011

Comments: 2 Comments

Wyoming lawmakers could do just as well paying Shoshones for a raindance.

It seems any enterprising engineer or dreamer looking for an easy handout from state government could hit up the Wyoming Water Development Commission.

On the heels of recommending $300,000 for a Green River watershed study — possibly an end run for yet another ill-advised dam proposal — water managers are seeking $2.4 million for more cloud seeding.

Yes, cloud seeding. The latest request comes on top of nearly $12 million the Wyoming Legislature has given the agency to pump silver iodide into the clouds above the Wind River, Medicine Bow and Sierra Madre mountains, with no measurable results and in violation of wilderness protections.

The goal is to boost snowpack and increase runoff in the Green and Wind rivers, presumably to graze more cattle in the desert. Barry Lawrence, project manager for the Wyoming Water Development Office, calls cloud seeding a “long-term water management strategy,” the News&Guide reported.

Lawmakers might as well be wandering the desert with a forked stick.

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Posted under Economy, Environment, Politics, Republican Party, Weather, Wyoming, Wyoming Legislature

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open range for open space

By Jim Stanford on October 12, 2011

Comments: 3 Comments

Chase Lockhart confronts one of his bulls on a summer pasture in Buffalo Valley, as Mount Moran looms in the distance. Click to enlarge.

While working on a story recently for the new Jackson Hole food magazine, Dishing, I learned that agriculture is making a comeback in Teton Valley, Idaho. As the real estate market has imploded, landowners are turning to raising pigs, beef and even goats to help feed their families and earn a few extra bucks.

Groups such as Slow Food in the Tetons, which hosts its SlowToberFest beer and appetizer tasting tonight at Q Roadhouse, have nurtured this movement, which holds promise for any semblance of a “sustainable” lifestyle in these parts.

On his blog A Vivid Eye, photographer David Stubbs has posted a photo essay from a summer spent documenting brothers Chase and Cody Lockhart on their Jackson Hole Hereford Ranch. Once a stream monitor for the Forest Service, Stubbs re-evaluated some of his perceptions about ranching and its impact.

“Here was a small family business conserving open space and wildlife habitat by producing local food on some of the most valuable rural real estate on earth,” he writes, “a unique piece of Jackson history evolving from its roots with two fifth-generation ranching brothers — legitimate, local cowboys.”

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Posted under Economy, Environment, Food

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TV premiere test of tax board judgment

By Jim Stanford on September 21, 2011

Comments: 19 Comments

Locally, a lot of people who ordinarily would take no interest in Modern Family will be watching tonight’s premiere, only not for the reasons the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce is hoping.

Residents will be weighing whether the $70,000 the Jackson Hole Travel and Tourism Board put up to lure the show here is worth the exposure. (One half of the hour-long show was filmed at Lost Creek Ranch last month.) Will Jackson Hole be featured prominently, or serve as just a Hollywood set?

At the time, I was inclined to think the fee was worthwhile, although I had never heard of the show until the News&Guide started making such hullabaloo about the prospect of filming. For the tourism board, it must have been hard to pass up the chance to have Jackson Hole placed before some 12 million viewers.

Yet why would one of the highest-rated sitcoms, on a network, ABC, whose parent Walt Disney Co. reaps more than $4 billion a year in profits, need a handout from a small town in Wyoming?

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Posted under Economy, Entertainment, Politics

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