Wyoming news briefs for May 18

UW to further ease COVID-19 restrictions this summer

SHERIDAN – The University of Wyoming will further ease some COVID-19 requirements this summer as it transitions to a traditional fall 2021 semester.

Starting Monday, UW will follow the current Wyoming Department of Health order requiring masks in educational settings indoors only when social distancing can’t be maintained. 

This is an expansion of the university’s earlier decision that, starting May 8, masks are no longer required outdoors on campus — and it follows new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that people who are fully vaccinated can go without masks or physical distancing in most cases, even when they are indoors or in large groups.

Additionally, when the WDH order expires, or if the university receives an exception to the order, UW will not require masks and social distancing for those who are vaccinated — and will only recommend masks and distancing indoors for those who are not vaccinated — for both indoor and outdoor settings on UW properties. 

The state health order currently extends through May 31.

The adjustment to the summer plan was approved Friday by the UW Board of Trustees.

UW announced earlier that it is proceeding with plans for face-to-face classes at maximum capacity this fall, along with face-to-face student engagement programs, in-person athletics experiences and the like. 

The board of trustees voted March 26 to "fully reopen” the university “consistent with the health policy guidelines and directives of the state and federal governments regarding COVID-19.”


First wild horse and burro adoption slated at new facility in Wheatland

GUERNSEY – The Bureau of Land Management will hold its first ever adoption event at the new Wheatland Wild Horse and Burro OffRange Corral in Wheatland on June 5, 2021, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

The BLM will offer approximately 50 wild horses and burros for adoption, with a viewing of the animals taking place on June 4 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  

The horses will be available for adoption on a first come, first-served basis. Those wishing to adopt a wild horse must fill out an application, be able to conform to the BLM’s minimum adoption requirements and have their application approved by the BLM. Wild Horse and Burro specialists will be on hand to answer questions and assist with adoption applications. 

The facility is located approximately 12 miles north of Wheatland at 1005 North Wheatland Highway, Wheatland, WY. To learn more about the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program and adopting a Wyoming wild horse, visit [email protected] or contact the national information center at 866-468-7826. 


Cody man re-arrested after being caught with marijuana again

POWELL — Days after appearing in court on allegations that he possessed marijuana wax with intent to deliver it, a 19-year-old Cody man was again caught with the substance. 

Joseph “Alex” Wooden was arrested by Cody police following a Thursday afternoon traffic stop. Police say they found several containers of THC wax, a few pills of Adderall and pipes in Wooden’s vehicle. 

The arrest came two days after Wooden was arraigned on allegations that he possessed drugs, a stolen pistol and alcohol in April. Wooden contended in court that the drugs he was caught with on Thursday were items left over from his April arrest and that he had been in the process of cleaning out his car. 

However, Circuit Court Judge Bruce Waters saw things differently. 

“It’s clear that you’re not getting the seriousness of these charges, and you’re not taking them seriously, and you don’t give a rip one way or another,” the judge told Wooden at a Friday hearing. 

Between the allegations from April and from Thursday, Waters ordered that Wooden be held in jail until coming up with $11,000 in cash as bail. Wooden, who said he couldn’t afford even $1,000, asked to be released on his own recognizance, as he had been earlier in the week; Wooden noted that he wouldn’t be able to make money to pay off bills or court penalties while in jail. 

“This isn’t about money,” Waters responded. “This is about you complying with the law.” The judge noted the bond could be modified later, “but at this point, I’m not sure that’s going to happen.” 

The discussion wound up being academic, as an individual posted the $11,000 on Wooden’s behalf hours after the hearing and he was released again. 


Grizzlies out and about more

CODY — Yellowstone area grizzlies are making more appearances as the weather warms, including a video captured last week that shows a grizzly bluff-charging a nearby woman filming three bears in the Park.

In Washington, D.C., Wyoming elected officials are continuing to push for the species to be delisted.

As part of ongoing efforts to monitor the population of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department will conduct grizzly bear capture operations in areas of northwest Wyoming beginning this spring and continuing through early fall.

Department biologists will trap in both front and backcountry areas. All areas will have major access points marked with warning signs. All trap sites will be posted with area closure signs in the direct vicinity of trap sites. It is critical that all members of the public heed these signs. When captured, animals are collared, released on site, and monitored in accordance with strict guidelines developed jointly by G&F and the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team.

The annual monitoring of this population is vital to the ongoing management and conservation of grizzly bears in Wyoming. Information obtained through these efforts is used to assess the status and health of grizzly bears in the ecosystem and provides insight into population dynamics critical to demonstrate the continued recovery of the Greater Yellowstone population.

Officials are also working with the public to keep encounters to a minimum.

G&F reminds people to be cautious around wildlife during the spring. They may be encountering wildlife that hasn’t seen humans in months, so practicing safety and outdoor awareness is important.


Man crashes while driving 40-45 mph on Powell residential street

POWELL — Police say a Powell man was looking at his cellphone and going well over the speed limit when he crashed on a residential street Thursday evening. 

Riley Birky, 20, had been traveling east on Sunlight Drive, approaching its intersection with North Gilbert Street, when he looked down at his cellphone, said Powell Police Chief Roy Eckerdt. 

Birky looked up to see that he was about to hit a 2006 Ford Mustang parked on the opposite side of the street, Eckerdt said. 

Birky reportedly attempted to avoid the Mustang, but overcorrected. He slid into the front of the sports car, dealing substantial damage, and then spun around roughly 180 degrees. 

Before the crash, Birky was traveling roughly 40 to 45 miles per hour, Eckerdt said; the speed limit on the curved street is 25 mph. 

Police ultimately cited Birky for careless driving, driving with a suspended license and possession of marijuana. He’s due to answer to the careless driving allegation in Powell’s Municipal Court on June 16, while being scheduled to appear on the other two misdemeanor citations in Park County Circuit Court on June 29.