Wyoming news briefs for June 22


Cheyenne looks at more regulation for short-term rentals like AirBnB

CHEYENNE –  Short-term rentals like AirBnB and VRBO have exploded in popularity recently – with the number of listings increasing 15-fold over the last decade – but in Cheyenne, the city doesn’t currently have any licensing or permitting power to regulate such advancements.

The city’s Planning and Development Department hosted a work session Friday with Granicus, a government technology company, detailing what these types of rentals qualify as and how many there already are in the community. From online listings, the city has about 260 short-term rentals right now in the city, with the possibility that will increase during Cheyenne Frontier Days.

That can affect neighborhood standards, emergency responders and even affordable housing in the community. 

So the hope, department director Charles Bloom said, is that the city council can bring forward an ordinance in the future to better equip the department to handle this market change.

Since the majority of AirBnB stays are less than a month, Bloom said they are classified as short-term rentals. 

But the similar types of developments already addressed in city code, like Bed and Breakfast regulations, don’t cover the unique setup of AirBnB-type locations – where customers normally stay in someone’s house or apartment. Some rentals even include renting a private room in someone’s home.

Some of the issues that can arise with short-term rentals are late night calls with guests who are being too loud, which can often end up reaching the non-emergency law enforcement lines. 

Regulations can also help eliminate party houses, reduce the short-term rental impact on neighborhoods and ensure building safety.

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Campbell County Weed and Pest transitioning toward becoming independent district

GILLETTE – Campbell County Weed and Pest will officially become its own service district July 1.

In April, the Weed and Pest board voted to make the district completely separate from Campbell County government.

The move stems from increasing pressure from the state for special districts to become completely independent.

Although Campbell County Weed and Pest has its own mill levy, it also had been tied into county government. Its employees got health insurance through the county, and the county’s IT department provided tech support for the Weed and Pest building.

Weed and Pest also had access to the County Attorney’s Office for legal representation, and the county took care of maintenance on its building.

Now the district will have to pay for those costs out of its own budget.

Weed and Pest Director Quade Schmelzle estimated that becoming an independent district would add about $61,000 in expenses to Weed and Pest’s budget the first year, most of it in one-time startup costs. In following years, the cost is expected to be an additional $35,000.

Because it’s breaking off completely from the county, the Weed and Pest District will pay for a new IT service provider, accounting software, phone systems and insurance.

And because it’s now separate from the county, Weed and Pest will have to have its own budget hearing.

While Campbell County Weed and Pest will be its own district, that doesn’t mean it can do whatever it wants with no one holding it accountable.

Each of the board members is appointed by the commissioners. Board members must be nominated by a petition signed by at least 10 landowners in their district. Commissioners then make appointments based on the nominations.

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Black bear captured in Sheridan Sunday

SHERIDAN — Wyoming Game and Fish Department personnel captured a black bear on the east side of Sheridan near the Holly Sugar building at approximately 7:30 a.m. Sunday. 

With assistance from the Sheridan Police Department, personnel followed the bear along Little Goose Creek until it eventually climbed a tree and accessed the roof of a business, where they were able to immobilize it.

The bear, a male estimated at two years of age, was healthy and in good condition. It was later released in the Bighorn Mountains.

“A jogger reported seeing the bear a little before 6 a.m.,” Sheridan wildlife biologist Tim Thomas said. “Because he had likely not been in town for long and we have no reports of him accessing garbage or other food rewards, he was a good candidate for relocation. We appreciate the public for notifying us quickly of bear sightings or suspected bear activity near residential areas as that gives us more management options.”

Any sightings of bears in residential or developed areas should be reported as soon as possible to the Game and Fish Regional Office at 307-672-7418 during regular business hours or to a local law enforcement agency.   

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Yellowstone's first bison goring in '21

JACKSON — An inglorious and painful, though hallmark, sign of Northwestern Wyoming summer passed by over the weekend near the shoreline of Yellowstone Lake.

The unfortunate, typically annual event that unfolded was a Yellowstone National Park tourist being gored by a bison. 

Public Affairs Officer Linda Veress confirmed over email that a 30-year-old female from Ann Arbor, Michigan, was hiking with a partner on the Storm Point Trail when there was a wildlife interaction that turned dangerous.

“We’re not clear how the encounter with the bison occurred,” Veress wrote in an email. “The female sustained significant injuries and was flown to Eastern Idaho Medical Center in Idaho Falls, Idaho.”

There is no more information available about the incident, she said.

Although it’s unclear what led to the goring, oftentimes incidents with bison that don’t work out favorably for Yellowstone visitors are precipitated by people getting way too close. 

Park regulations demand that visitors keep at least 25 yards away from bison, elk, moose, bighorn sheep, deer and coyotes, and 100 yards away from bears and wolves.

Of course, tourists don’t always buy into the park’s guidance or heed bison warning signs. And sometimes, they get charged — or worse.

Veress wasn’t privy to the nature of the Michigan woman’s injuries but pointed out that they were severe enough that she had to be airlifted to a hospital.

Yellowstone typically sees one or two bison gorings a year, park officials have told the Jackson Hole Daily in the past. 

But that’s the average, and there have been unusually goring-filled years, like 2015, when five visitors were injured by bison by mid-July.

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Young Lovell man dies in Bighorn Lake

POWELL — A 19-year-old Lovell man drowned in Bighorn Lake on Friday afternoon. 

Dominic Hunder had been swimming with friends near Barry’s Landing in Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area when he became fatigued and slipped underneath the water, the National Park Service said in a news release. 

Hunder was unable to be rescued and did not resurface. 

“We are saddened by this unfortunate event,” said Raymond McPadden, Bighorn Canyon’s acting superintendent. “Our thoughts and prayers go to the family and friends of the victim.” 

The incident was reported to authorities around 4:25 p.m. Friday. 

Friends, family, park rangers and personnel from Lovell Fire Department, ambulance crew, Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office and Big Horn County Search and Rescue searched the area until 1 a.m. Saturday morning, but found no sign of Hunder. 

They resumed the search later that morning, joined by the Carbon County, Montana, Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Water Rescue Dive Team, with divers finding his body around 2:30 p.m. 

The Park Service said it “strongly recommends” that visitors wear life jackets when recreating in Bighorn Canyon, noting that swimming and boating conditions can be hazardous. 

Visitors are required to have a properly fitted life jacket on board for all occupants of vessels — including canoes, kayaks, rafts and paddleboards.

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