Wyoming news briefs for June 17

Woman dies near Steamboat Point

SHERIDAN –  A woman has died after allegedly falling off Steamboat Point in the Bighorn Mountains. 

Sheridan resident, Calli Aust, 28, died after falling more than 200 feet while on a planned sunrise hike with her husband Tuesday morning. 

Sheridan County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Levi Dominguez said his office received a report at around 5:50 a.m. of a female who had fallen off of Steamboat Point. Aust was found on the southwest side of Steamboat Point. 

The reporting party was not sure where she was, and cellphone service remained an issue, so SCSO deputies responded to the site along with Dayton Fire-Rescue, Sheridan County Search and Rescue and Sheridan Fire-Rescue, attempting to locate the reporting party and victim. 

The couple made it to the top of Steamboat Point and, for unknown reasons, the victim fell and landed at the base of Steamboat Point, where she was found by her husband and rescue crews, according to SCSO's Dominguez.

At this point in the investigation, Dominguez said in a press release Wednesday, there are no indications of foul play and the death is being considered accidental. 

The investigation is being led by SCSO with assistance from Wyoming Highway Patrol and Bighorn National Forest law enforcement. The Sheridan County Coroner's Office is conducting a concurrent investigation. 

Steamboat Point is an abandoned fire lookout in the Bighorn National Forest. There is an old pipe rail just west of what remains of the building's concrete footers, BNF Public Affairs Officer Sara Kirol said. 

"It is not a safe barrier, but merely a remnant of the lookout tower," Kirol said of Steamboat Point's fire lookout remains.


Mother allegedly hurt son with pipe

CODY —A Cody mother is being accused of stomping a glass meth pipe into her son’s hand, causing a laceration that required 12 stitches.

Christy Knopp, 44, is being charged with domestic battery from the incident on June 6. She is currently being held at the Park County Detention Center on a $5,000 cash-only bond after being arrested June 7.

Her adult son, Bryan Floyd, who lives with his mother, told authorities the event occurred when he was trying to take the meth pipe away from his mother. He said his mother threw the pipe on the floor but when he tried reaching for it she intentionally stomped down on his hand, “causing the glass meth pipe to shatter and lacerate the ring finger on Bryan’s right hand,” the affidavit said.

Hospital records confirmed Floyd received stitches on June 6.

At the Detention Center, Knopp admitted to using meth “off and on.” When asked if she had smoked meth the day of the incident, she told officers she smoked something but didn’t know what it was.

Knopp claimed the pipe was Floyd’s, and she put it on the floor to break it. She denied he was trying to take it away from her and said she just took it to burn out all its contents.

Knopp has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is scheduled for a July 26 pretrial conference.

She was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and controlled substances, breach of peace and interference with a peace officer in 2018.


Crook County declared disaster area

SUNDANCE — Crook County has been designated a primary natural disaster area by the U.S. Department of Agriculture due to the ongoing drought conditions in this area. Along with those in 20 other counties in Wyoming, producers in this area are now eligible for emergency credit to assist in recovering from the disaster.

The county was automatically found to be eligible for this status because it was recorded by the U.S. Drought Monitor as having suffered from severe drought for eight or more consecutive weeks during the growing season.

Farm Service Agency loans can be used for recovery needs including replacement of essential items, including livestock; reorganization of a farming operation; or refinancing of certain debts. Loan applications are available through the agency’s website, and the application deadline for loans is November 19.

The University of Wyoming’s Water Resources Data System reports the precipitation seen in Crook County over the week of June 2 to 8 as less than 5 percent of the average between the years of 1991 and 2020. Snow water equivalent was also recorded at less than 5 percent of average on June 9.

Meanwhile, Gov. Mark Gordon announced the launch of a website that will provide updates on drought conditions as well as resources and information for sectors impacted by drought, including tourism, recreation, municipalities and water utilities. The state’s website can be found at drought.wyo.gov.


Game and Fish reduces antelope license quotas

BUFFALO — The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission has approved reduced antelope license quotas for the 2021 hunting season. In and around Johnson County, license quotas were reduced in Hunt Areas 16 and 23. License quotas in Hunt Areas 10, 22, 102 and 113 remain unchanged from 2020.

In Area 16, the quota was reduced from 600 to 400 for type 1 (any antelope) and 300 to 200 for type 6 (doe or fawn). In Area 23, type 1 and type 6 remained the same from last year, while the type 2 (any antelope valid on private land) quota was reduced from 1,600 to 1,300 and the type 7 (doe or fawn valid on private land) quota was reduced from 1,200 to 800.

The new quotas in areas 16 and 23 are the result of disease and extreme winter conditions and drought, according to Zach Turnbull, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department wildlife biologist in Buffalo.

Elevated levels of mortality from the winter, low fitness levels from the drought and fatal diseases all contribute to this year's reduction, Turnbull said.

In contrast to the bitter cold, extreme hot and dry conditions can also have negative impacts, leading to a decreased availability of food.

On the population scale, antelope are highly resilient and typically have high reproductive capacity, which leads Doug Brimeyer, deputy chief of wildlife for Game and Fish, to be optimistic that a conservative year of licenses will help pronghorn rebound — and quickly. According to Brimeyer, nearly 98% of does have twins each year, and that could amount to population increases as high as 30 percent by 2022 if conditions on the ground are supportive.


Fire near Ten Sleep grows quickly 

WORLAND — The Brokenback Creek Fire that started out as a half-acre fire quickly blew up to 1,300 acres in about five hours on Tuesday. 

Ten Sleep Fire Department was dispatched at 11:19 to the initial fire call that is now being handled by the Bureau of Land Management with assistance from the Washakie County firefighters and Bighorn National Forest firefighters. 

The Brokenback Creek Fire is burning in grass and brush about five miles northwest of Ten Sleep near the Tensleep–Hyattville Road, according to the BLM. BLM Wind River/Bighorn Basin District public affairs officer Sarah Beckwith said that the fire, as of about 3:30 p.m., was at 1,300 acres. 

Residents are asked to avoid the Ten Sleep-Hyattville road to allow firefighters easy access to and from the fire. 

Beckwith said the fire appears to be primarily on BLM land, but a closer examination of the perimeter would be completed later in the week to determine if there are other landowners involved. 

She said the fire did start on public lands. 

There was a Type 1 helicopter and a few single engine air tankers (SEATs) that had been mobilized to the fire. The fire was moving northeast. 

No structures are immediately threatened, according to Beckwith. The cause of the fire is under investigation.


Deaver man trampled in ranching incident

LOVELL — A ranching accident killed a Deaver man the morning of Tuesday, June 8.

According to Park County Coroner Tim Powers, John Seitz, 71, was found in critical condition at his Road 1 North Deaver property at 12:34 p.m. Seitz was rushed to North Big Horn Hospital and declared dead later that afternoon.

Powers said the cause of death has been determined to be blunt traumatic impact, causing chest and back injuries. Seitz was thought to be in the process of separating a cow, calf and a bull on his ranch when at least one of the cattle trampled him. There were no witnesses at the time of the accident. 

“We all assumed it was

probably the bull,” Powers said. “But we really don’t know. It could have been any of the three of them.”

A service for Seitz was held on June 15 at the Deaver Community Center. He is survived by his wife Peggy, son, daughter and two grandchildren.