Wyoming news briefs for May 30

Monsters take over downtownRock Springs

ROCK SPRINGS — RAAAAAAAWWWWRRRRRR!!!! Monsters are taking over downtown Rock Springs this summer. 

Eight whimsical monsters, created by local artist Kaye Tyler, will take up residency at various locations around downtown throughout the summer. 

The Broadway Theater will be showing Pixar Animation Studios/ Walt Disney Pictures movie Monsters, Inc. at 2 p.m. on Thursday, June 2. Following the movie, everyone is invited to go on a scavenger hunt to find each downtown monster. 

Upon finishing the scavenger hunt, participants can stop in the Rock Springs Main Street/Urban Renewal Agency office for a special prize. 

The Rock Springs library will also have special monster-themed activities all summer long. In July, it will have a voting booth set up for kids to choose their favorite downtown monster. The prize for voting will be a small button/ pin with their favorite monster image on it. In July, kids can make a floating Loch Ness monster at the library, and in August, they can visit the library and pick up a packet of monster crafts and activities to take home.

For more information on the program, contact the Rock Springs Main Street/URA at 307-352-1434 or visit its website at DowntownRS.com.


Percentage of out-of-compliance health inspections doubles in Sheridan County

SHERIDAN — The percentage of out-of-compliance health inspections at Sheridan County businesses more than doubled during the first five months of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021.

According to the Wyoming Department of Agriculture website, 22 of 73 routine health inspections conducted in Sheridan County between Jan. 1 and May 23 were out of compliance. 

This means roughly 30.1 percent of Sheridan County inspections were out of compliance. During the same period in 2021, 13 of 92 Sheridan County routine health inspections — or 14.1 percent — were found to be out of compliance.

The county’s increase in out-of-compliance inspections comes as the Wyoming Department of Health reports viral gastroenteritis has increased in Wyoming, particularly in Sheridan and Park counties.

Park County experienced a similar but smaller increase than Sheridan County in out-of-compliance health inspections, increasing from 24.8 percent during the first five months of 2021 to 26.9 percent during the same period in 2022.

The increases in out-of-compliance inspections in Sheridan and Park counties are contrary to state-wide trends. Wyoming’s out-of-compliance inspections declined from 261 during the first five months of 2021 to 233 during the first five months of 2022.

Health inspections are conducted by the Wyoming Department of Agriculture/Consumer Health Services inspection specialists in most of the state with the exception of Laramie, Natrona, Sublette, Sweetwater and Teton counties, which have individual health departments.

All food establishment inspection reports from the Department of Agriculture are broken into two categories: food-borne illness risk factors and good retail practices. For more information on the out-of-compliance businesses, see wda.safefoodinspection.com/Inspection/PublicInspectionSearch.aspx.


Wolverines once again proposed for Endangered Species Act protection

JACKSON — Wolverines are once again proposed to be listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act.

That’s the result of a Wednesday ruling in federal court that marked the latest swing in a decades-long see-saw over the mustelids’ status under federal law.

Judge Donald Molloy, of the U.S. District Court for Montana, said in a 15-page decision that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must revisit a 2020 decision in which it decided against listing the species as “endangered” or “threatened.” Molloy said that “serious errors undermine the Service’s decision” and gave the agency 18 months to reconsider its ruling.

Molloy’s order came after environmentalists challenged the 2020 decision to withhold protections. They argued that wolverines face localized extinction as a result of climate change, habitat fragmentation and low genetic diversity. 

The 2020 decision, which came under the Trump administration, was based on research suggesting the animals’ prevalence was expanding, not contracting. 

Biologists estimate that fewer than 300 wolverines exist in the lower 48 states, where environmental groups are calling for them to be listed. Populations in Canada and Alaska are relatively healthy.

Wednesday’s decision doesn’t offer wolverines protection under the Endangered Species Act.

It also won’t change much of how wolverines are managed in Wyoming. The state considers them a “Species of Greatest Conservation Need” and manages them as non-game species, meaning hunting them is prohibited. 

Between 2001 and 2008, researchers identified four adult wolverines regularly inhabiting the Tetons, with kits — in the years they were reared — beefing the population up to seven. But in 2015, researchers trying to determine the impacts of backcountry recreation on wolverine numbers in the Tetons were only able to find one animal. 

State wildlife officials were unavailable Friday to update those numbers.


Cheyenne police shoot, kill homicide suspect

CHEYENNE — Local law enforcement shot and killed a suspect in a Nebraska homicide, the Cheyenne Police Department announced Saturday afternoon. 

The incident occurred just after noon on Saturday near the 2500 block of East 11th Street, CPD said in a news release distributed by email. 

Members of the Cheyenne Police-Laramie County Joint SWAT Team responded to the incident involving the homicide suspect, Davin Darayle Saunders, according to CPD. 

The police department here recently advised the public that he was believed to be in the area, after officers were dispatched to the Walmart at 580 Livingston Ave. for a report of a domestic disturbance with a firearm.  They searched the area but could not find the suspect, who had reportedly fled the scene on foot.  

“Further investigation revealed Saunders was located at a residence,” in the area where he was ultimately shot and killed, CPD said Saturday. 

The SWAT team went to the location Saturday with a warrant to enter the residence and asked Saunders to leave the building, CPD said.  When he refused, the officers deployed gas to flush him out of the home.  Saunders responded by pulling a firearm, and officers fired on him, killing him. 

No one else was injured, according to CPD. 

Police officials in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle that Saunders was wanted in connection with several shootings in that area. 

“Saunders has an extensive history of violence,” Scottsbluff Police Chief Kevin Spencer wrote on the department’s Facebook page, adding that he should be considered armed and dangerous.

Around May 13, Saunders allegedly shot his sister in the foot at the home of their grandfather, Spencer recounted. He allegedly then killed his aunt, Karen Cooper.