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Wyoming Elk, Antelope Adapt Better To Housing, Energy Developments Than Mule Deer



Wyoming Elk, Antelope Adapt Better To Housing, Energy Developments Than Mule Deer

Being set in their ways could be a disadvantage to Wyoming’s mule deer as housing and energy development continues in parts of the state, a wildlife biologist said.

“Elk are very plastic (flexible) in their movements. Pronghorn are a little less plastic, but they’re able to roll with the punches. With mule deer, they almost put their hooves in the exact same place their mothers did,” Kristen Barker told Cowboy State Daily.

She’s the Cody-based research coordinator for the Beyond Yellowstone Program, a collaborative effort between the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the University of Wyoming and the University of California, Berkeley.

The group recently completed a study of how land development affects big game in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Research was conducted around Cody, Pinedale and along big game migration corridors in the Red Desert.


It revealed that for the most part, critters avoid development, she said.

“Even if there’s good stuff right around the development, if the animals are going to avoid it, it doesn’t really count as habitat anymore,” Barker said.

Avoidance Tactics

Development for housing or energy can have a big effect on how elk, deer and antelope behave, according Beyond Yellowstone Program’s research brief.

“Our work reveals land development is one of the strongest single influences on migratory big game, affecting everything from where herds live within the broader landscape to where individual animals walk each day,” the brief states.

And it doesn’t take much. A little as 3% of the land in a given area being developed can be enough to disrupt animals’ movement patterns, according to the brief.


But there doesn’t seem to be a one-size-fits-all pattern for Wyoming’s premier big game species — elk, mule deer and antelope, Barker said.

Elk seem to be best at just avoiding human activity and are willing to go out of their way to do it, she said.

“Those Cody elk herds, they can still make big, broad movements” to avoid human activity, she said.

Antelope, not so much. But they still might alter their routes to get around things.

Stubborn Mule Deer Take Long Journeys

But mule deer are “set in their ways and very loyal” to their ingrained migration routes, Barker said.


That’s why people might see mulies showing up in their back yards, she said. It might not be that the deer are completely comfortable being around people, but because homes were built along migration routes, and the deer were just too darn stubborn to change their ways.

And those who see mule deer in their yards should appreciate they might have come from a long way off and still have a long journey ahead of them.

Some deer herds in Wyoming frequently travel great distances as they move between summer range, typically high in the mountains, and winter range in lowlands such as the Red Desert, Barker said.

One Wyoming long-distance record-holder is a mule deer doe, Deer 255, which logged 242 miles one way during her seasonal migration, according to radio collar data.

The Curious Case Of The Estes Park Elk

Of course, many rules in nature have exceptions. As Barker noted, her group’s research indicates that as a general rule, elk like to avoid development.


But here are the huge elk herds that spend part of the year camping out right in the middle of Estes Park, Colorado. Those elk trace their ancestry back to Wyoming. During migrations in and out of Rocky Mountain National Park, they take over the town, grazing in city parks and loitering in downtown business parking lots.

“The situation in Estes Park shows how flexible elk are. One reason they’ll hang out in an area where there’s a bunch of people is, there’s also a bunch of food there,” Barker said. “If there’s not a big cost associated with them being around people, if they’re not being hunted or they’re not being chased around by dogs, they will stick around if the food rewards are there.”

With mule deer, however, their hard-set migration routes might hurt their food supply, she said.

They’ll likely still go through developed spots on their migration routes, but they’ll hurry through. So, they might miss the prime growth periods for certain types of forage along the way, Barker said.

What’s Next

It’s evident that big game animals prefer a “buffer zone” between themselves and human development, Barker said. But just how much distance is required for which species remains unclear, so that could be the subject of further research.


How research might affect policy isn’t up to the Beyond Yellowstone Program, Barker said.

“We’re more of a research group than an advocacy group. We have a mission of getting the information out there in a way that is more digestible than typical scientific research papers,” she said.

And there needn’t be a zero-sum “either-or” between development and wildlife movement, she added.

“It’s possible to have both. It’s possible to have good, solid development and to preserve wildlife migration routes, if we do it the right way,” she said.

Mark Heinz can be reached at


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Judge Tosses Wyoming Woman’s Claim Employer Tried To Have Her Committed



Judge Tosses Wyoming Woman’s Claim Employer Tried To Have Her Committed

A federal judge has dismissed the lawsuit of a Wyoming woman who claimed her employer, a hospital in Weston County, tried to have her involuntarily committed for trying to expose bad financial practices.

Amanda McDade didn’t specifically warn Weston County Health Services, a governmental entity, of her plan to sue it, though Wyoming law generally requires doing so before suing the government, U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl wrote Friday in an order dismissing McDade’s lawsuit against the hospital.

McDade’s other claims that the hospital discriminated against her as a whistleblower and as a person with a disability also failed, because McDade did not back the former with relevant law or the latter allegation with evidence, Skavdahl’s order says.

“To the extent Plaintiff asserts Defendant’s alleged actions are ‘obviously’ illegal, the Court disagrees with such a conclusory statement,” wrote Skavdahl.


What She Alleged

McDade had alleged in a December civil complaint that while working as a human resources generalist for Weston County Health Services, she noticed money mismanagement.

She reported her concerns to the hospital board president and was allegedly asked to alter the records to conceal the wrongdoing. After that, a hostile work environment festered around her, her lawsuit says.

McDade’s own doctor, Dr. Sara Thurgood, approached her Oct. 14, 2021, saying she wanted to address concerns she’d heard from others, and that their shared employer was worried about McDade and considering having her involuntarily committed.

In a December interview with Cowboy State Daily, Thurgood acknowledged that she broached others’ concerns with McDade, but said hospital authorities tried to use her, Thurgood, as a “pawn” against McDade.

Rattled, McDade fled the office and later quit her job.


You Gotta Warn The Government

The Wyoming Governmental Claims Act is the mechanism by which people can sue the state government and its entities, generally. When plaintiffs don’t comply with it, courts dismiss their cases.

McDade said she gave the hospital notice of her claims against it Dec. 5, 2023, which the hospital denied. Either way, that falls after the two-year deadline for filing those notices prior to suing governmental entities.

McDade argued back that documents and evidence she gave to the Department of Labor Standards should have been enough notification for the hospital.

Skavdahl characterized that as unrealistic.

“(The hospital) would be put in the untenable position of combing through documents in search of potential claims and then reading McDade’s mind to determine which of those claims she may want to pursue,” the judge wrote.


Wrong Law

McDade alleged she was discriminated against for being a whistleblower regarding the hospital’s alleged misdeeds.

She cited a state law forbidding Wyoming licensed health care facilities from retaliating against whistleblowers who report wrongdoing to the appropriate division of the state Department of Health.

The law doesn’t provide a mechanism to launch a lawsuit, however, Skavdahl wrote.

This Is Not The KKK

McDade’s lawsuit had invoked a federal law, 42 USC 1985 (3), a portion of the Ku Klux Klan Act banning class-based hostility. The act was written to protect African Americans and people who championed their cause from Ku Klux Klan’s violent, post-Civil War discriminatory conspiracies.

Skavdahl didn’t effectively narrow the act’s use in Wyoming to protecting African Americans, but he pointed to the U.S. Supreme Court’s frequent questioning of whether the KKK Act could ever fall outside that goal.


In either case, it can’t be used to protect someone on the basis of having a disability, which was the use to which McDade’s lawsuit attempted to apply it, the judge wrote.

But It Is Familiar

The KKK law is familiar: Former Campbell County Library Director Terri Lesley is invoking that same federal statute in her lawsuit against the Bennett family, whom she’s accusing of conspiring against her and perpetuating injurious falsehoods about her.

Lesley’s conflict with the Bennetts stems from the Bennetts raising alarms about sexually graphic books in the library system, followed by a turnover on the library board and the board firing Lesley.

The Bennetts raised some of the same concerns about Lesley’s use of that statute as Skavdahl raised about McDade’s.

What Disability?

McDade accused the hospital of not accommodating her disability.


Skavdahl’s response to that was essentially, what disability?

McDade alleged that she had a health diagnosis that her employer was aware of, but didn’t name her alleged disability in her complaint.

Other claims, such as McDade’s allegation the hospital created a hostile work environment, also failed due to McDade invoking a legal application that didn’t match her actual claims, and because of McDade’s description of one traumatizing day not being enough evidence of a hostile work environment, the order says.

Clair McFarland can be reached at

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Crusaders top Wyoming Lee in Alliance match-up | Local Sports Journal



Crusaders top Wyoming Lee in Alliance match-up | Local Sports Journal MUSKEGON – The Muskegon Catholic Central baseball team blew by Wyoming Lee, 16-1, on Tuesday. Bode Zygmuntowski posted the win on the mound and allowed just one hit. Zygmuntowski and Owen Lyonnais each had three hits and three RBI, while Croix Klint added two hits and two RBI. Landon Luchies scored two runs. Muskegon

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Cowboy State Daily Video News: Wednesday, April 24, 2024



Cowboy State Daily Video News: Wednesday, April 24, 2024

It’s time to take a look at what’s happening around Wyoming! I’m Wendy Corr, bringing you headlines from the Cowboy State Daily newsroom, for Wednesday, April 24th. 

Wyoming homeowners are reporting skyrocketing insurance premiums that have doubled or tripled in the last year. 

Cowboy State Daily’s Renee Jean reports that other homeowners are getting dropped by companies altogether, for reasons completely out of their control.

“the insurance industry says what’s happening here is just really a perfect storm. Inflation has driven up costs for everything from lumber to labor, when it comes to rebuilding these homes. And then… On top of that, you’ve had all these wildfires, and it’s not just Mountain State, Texas had that big million and a half acre fire in the prairie, Colorado had a big wildfire. California, you know, of course, lots of big losses there. And so all of these things, have insurers really taking a second look at what their risks are, where their risks are located, and how they can better spread that around so that they can afford to pay out the claims when they come.”


As a result of double and triple price spikes, some states are looking at capping insurance rates, and possibly even requiring policies be written so insurers can’t just drop customers in areas they don’t want to cover any more.

The first enrolled Northern Arapaho officer hired by the Riverton Police Department is suing the department alleging racial discrimination, retaliation and the perpetuation of a hostile workplace.

Former RPD Detective Billy Whiteplume’s civil complaint was filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for Wyoming, according to Cowboy State Daily’s Clair McFarland.

“There have been Native American officers sworn in Riverton Police Department before But Billy Whiteplume is the first enrolled Northern Arapaho tribal member to sign on there. So, he resigned here several months ago, but he attributes that decision to what he calls a hostile work environment, racial discrimination and retaliation for his disagreement with disciplinary actions against him.”

Whiteplume is asking for a jury trial, judgment in his favor and monetary compensation for damages stemming from his resignation.


Natrona County School District 1 board members got an earful from passionate parents and residents about how the district is failing students who are bullied, attempt suicide and refuse to go to school out of fear.

Cowboy State Daily’s Dale Killingbeck reports that several people insisted that school district policies to prevent bullying, suicide and to deal with crises such as the recent stabbing of a 14-year-old, are not working.

“One woman spoke about terror, about sending her child back to school, the same school where Bobby my hair went. Another parent who lives next to that school said she sees fights in the alley. There another parent at different schools, they expressed a lot of concern about how policies in the school district are not working regarding suicide, a woman’s spoke about her sister, who was bullied in the school district that committed suicide at 15. So there was just a lot of different comments and concerns that the school district needs to really buckle down and look at their policies and and do something that’s going to be effective to help students feel safe in the school district.”

One woman who lives across from Dean Morgan Middle School has sent videos to school officials of children being beaten up behind her house — often in the alleys after school or during lunchtime.

There’s a new spinoff on exploiting Wyoming’s trust laws that give business entities some of the nation’s strongest privacy rules, and this time it comes with a mix of limited liability corporation filing laws.


Fremont County Assessor Tara Berg told Cowboy State Daily’s Leo Wolfson that  she’s been investigating an influx of out-of-state businesses filing with the state as LLCs to addresses in her county. 

“After doing some investigation, she found that a number of these out of state businesses that are filing with often are pretty much always filing with third party registration services are using addresses, unbeknownst to the actual owners of the properties that belong to these addresses, and are just using it basically as a shield. So that they can register in Wyoming, which has a variety of reasons for that as well. This is definitely illegal, what she’s been seeing, but it’s difficult to track. Because a lot of these people that own these addresses often don’t know that this is going on.” 

Wyoming has some of the most lenient and private corporate business filing laws in the country, and some of the lowest associated fees for LLCs.

No one likes a story where a Girl Scout doesn’t win a prize for selling cookies.

But that’s just what nearly happened when a by-the-book municipal code officer in Pinedale slapped a Girl Scout and her mom hundreds of dollars in fines for selling cookies.


Cowboy State Daily’s Pat Maio reports that 13 year old Emily McCarroll and her mom found themselves fighting City Hall because mom parked in her parents’ driveway so that Emily could sell cookies.

“the mom parked her car in a driveway next, in between the post office and the the main park there the veterans park. That driveway is owned by her mommy and daddy. And the Girl Scout her daughter was selling cookies in front of the car. Well, three straight days they did this. At the end of three straight days. The code enforcement officer in Pineville said that she had warned them not to park there because she had not gotten permission from the owner of the driveway, which was her mommy and daddy remember? Yeah. So she was slapped the $400 in fines all together.” 

Mom’s advice? Beware of the spot where you sell Girl Scout Cookies. It could end up costing $658 in legal bills and having to pay a citation for violating city code.

And that’s today’s news. Get your free digital subscription to Wyoming’s only statewide newspaper by hitting the subscribe button on I’m Wendy Corr, for Cowboy State Daily.

Radio Stations


The following radio stations are airing Cowboy State Daily Radio on weekday mornings, afternoons and evenings. More radio stations will be added soon.

KYDT 103.1 FM – Sundance

KBFS 1450 AM — Sundance

KYCN 1340 AM / 92.7 FM — Wheatland

KZEW 101.7 FM — Wheatland


KANT 104.1 FM — Guernsey

KZQL 105.5 FM — Casper

KMXW 92.5 FM — Casper

KBDY 102.1 FM — Saratoga

KTGA 99.3 FM — Saratoga


KJAX 93.5 FM — Jackson

KZWY 106.3 FM — Sheridan

KROE 930 AM / 103.9 FM — Sheridan

KWYO 1410 AM / 106.9 FM  — Sheridan

KYOY 92.3 FM Hillsdale-Cheyenne / 106.9 FM Cheyenne


KRAE 1480 AM — Cheyenne 

KDLY 97.5 FM — Lander

KOVE 1330 AM — Lander

KZMQ 100.3/102.3 FM — Cody, Powell, Medicine Wheel, Greybull, Basin, Meeteetse

KKLX 96.1 FM — Worland, Thermopolis, Ten Sleep, Greybull


KCGL 104.1 FM — Cody, Powell, Basin, Lovell, Clark, Red Lodge, MT

KTAG 97.9 FM — Cody, Powell, Basin

KCWB 92.1 FM — Cody, Powell, Basin

KVGL 105.7 FM — Worland, Thermopolis, Basin, Ten Sleep

KODI 1400 AM / 96.7 FM — Cody, Powell, Lovell, Basin, Clark, Red Lodge


KWOR 1340 AM / 104.7 FM — Worland, Thermopolis, Ten Sleep

KREO 93.5 FM — Sweetwater and Sublette Counties

KGOS 1490 AM — Goshen County

KERM 98.3 FM — Goshen County

Check with individual radio stations for airtime of the newscasts.


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