3 injured, 1 killed after flash fire at natural gas well site in SW Wyoming (posted 9/24/14)
Information is still emerging on an accident that occurred Tuesday (Sept. 23) at an EOG natural gas facility south of LaBarge, Wyoming. Initially reported as an explosion, reports today describe the incident as a flash fire. Workers were cleaning a storage tank at a well site approximately two miles from the EOG Shute Creek Plant when a flash fire ignited.
Four people were injured from the flash fire. Three victims with serious burns were transported to a burn facility in Salt Lake City, Utah. One of three victims has reportedly died from his injuries. A fourth person with less serious injuries was treated at local facility and released on Tuesday. According to the Casper Star-Tribune, an EOG spokesperson identified two of the victims as EOG employees and two as contractors.
A truck was also reportedly destroyed by the fire.
According to the Kemmerer Gazette, the University of Utah Hospital has confirmed the identity of the man who was killed as Jared Loftiss of Marbleton, Wyoming. The two other victims that are being treated in the Burn Center have not been identified as per the request of the patients' families.
Sublette County sent ambulances, fire trucks and emergency management personnel to assist in response to the initial report. The ambulances were later turned around as not needed. Two fire units and the Sublette County Emergency Management Coordinator responded to the incident site, but were later released by Lincoln County officials who had the fire and situation under control.
See the links below for more stories on this accident.
1 dead, 2 critical after W. Wyoming natural gas fire Salt Lake Tribune, 9/24/14
One dead after fire at EOG Resources' Wyoming natgas tank Reuters, 9/24/14
Kemmerer Gazette Facebook page
Updated: Four injured in western Wyoming gas field explosion Casper Star-Tribune, Sept. 23, 2014
FWS: Livestock producers back under rules (posted 9/24/14)
Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
Mike Jimenez of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said in an interview Wednesday that in light of yesterday's federal court decision once again giving federal protection to wolves in Wyoming under the Endangered Species Act, livestock producers are under stringent rules on take or harassment of wolves. Wyoming wolves are once again classified as a non-essential, experimental population. That means that the ONLY time a wolf may be taken is if it is caught in the act of killing livestock, and this only applied to deeded property. In no other circumstance is a livestock producer allowed to kill or injure a wolf.
The FWS can issue shoot-on-sight permits to landowners in areas with a history of chronic wolf problems, but these permits must be approved by FWS before any action is taken against wolves depredating on livestock. Wyoming's wolf hunting season has been cancelled, and the state's defense-of-property law no longer applies, Jimenez said.
Here's the specifics of the 1994 federal rules under which wolves are now managed in Wyoming:
"No person may take this species in the wild in an experimental population area except as provided in paragraphs (i) (3), (7), and (8) of this section.
"(i) Landowners on their private land and livestock producers (i.e., producers of cattle, sheep, horses, and mules or as defined in State and tribal wolf management plans as approved by the Service) that are legally using public land (Federal land and any other public lands designated in State and tribal wolf management plans as approved by the Service) may harass any wolf in an opportunistic (the wolf cannot be purposely attracted, tracked, waited for, or searched out, then harassed) and noninjurious (no temporary or permanent physical damage may result) manner at any time, Provided that such harassment is non- lethal or is not physically injurious to the gray wolf and is reported within 7 days to the Service project leader for wolf reintroduction or agency representative designated by the Service.
"(ii) Any livestock producers on their private land may take (including to kill or injure) a wolf in the act of killing, wounding, or biting livestock (cattle, sheep, horses, and mules or as defined in State and tribal wolf management plans as approved by the Service), Provided that such incidents are to be immediately reported within 24 hours to the Service project leader for wolf reintroduction or agency representative designated by the Service, and livestock freshly (less than 24 hours) wounded (torn flesh and bleeding) or killed by wolves must be evident. Service or other Service authorized agencies will confirm if livestock were wounded or killed by wolves. The taking of any wolf without such evidence may be referred to the appropriate authorities for prosecution.
"(iii) Any livestock producer or permittee with livestock grazing allotments on public land may receive a written permit, valid for up to 45 days, from the Service or other agencies designated by the Service, to take (including to kill or injure) a wolf that is in the act of killing, wounding, or biting livestock (cattle, sheep, horses, and mules or as defined in State and tribal wolf management plans as approved by the Service), Provided that six or more breeding pairs of wolves have been documented in the experimental population area and the Service or other agencies authorized by the Service has confirmed that the livestock losses were caused by wolves and have completed agency efforts to resolve the problem. Such take must be reported immediately within 24 hours to the Service project leader for wolf reintroduction or agency representative designated by the Service. There must be evidence of freshly wounded or killed livestock by wolves. Service or other agencies, authorized by the Service, will investigate and determine if the livestock were wounded or killed by wolves. The taking of any wolf without such evidence may be referred to the appropriate authorities for prosecution."
Livestock producers experiencing problems with wolves must now rely on agency control. Producers may call Wyoming Game and Fish Department to investigate depredation events, or call USDA Wildlife Services. FWS will make the decision about what action is appropriate in each case.
USDA Wildlife Services can be reached at:
307-261-5336 State Office
307-362-7238 Rock Springs Office.
Rod Merrell is western Wyoming's Wildlife Services Supervisor, and his cell
number is 307-320-5109.
For those with further questions, Mike Jimenez's cell number is 307-330-5631.
Governor signs Emergency Wolf Rule (posted 9/24/14)
Wyoming Governor Matt Mead press release
In response to the ruling by US District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson placing the gray wolves back under the protection of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Governor Mead today (Sept. 24, 2014) signed and filed an emergency rule establishing that Wyoming’s commitment under its management plan is legally enforceable. The emergency rule has the full force and effect of law immediately and is effective for 120 days or 240 if extended by the Governor.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission initiated the formal rulemaking process set forth in the Administrative Procedures Act that will make this emergency rule permanent. The Commission expects to complete the process in November.
The Attorney General also filed a motion with the US District Court today asking the Court to recognize Wyoming's management commitments are legally enforceable.
"Now that Wyoming has resolved the Court’s concern, I hope the Court will amend its ruling and allow Wyoming’s continued management of gray wolves," Governor Mead said.
Wolf Watch By Cat Urbigkit
WG&F to refund wolf licenses (posted 9/24/14)
Wyoming Game & Fish Department
A ruling by a federal district court judge in Washington, D.C. places gray wolves in Wyoming under federal protection. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department notifies residents and hunters that this suspends the take of gray wolves in Wyoming.
The State of Wyoming anticipates filing a motion to stay this decision this week.
"There are many positives in Judge Jackson’s decision. However, she held that Wyoming’s plan was not sufficiently formalized to support the Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2012 rule allowing limited take of gray wolves. We believe an emergency rule can remedy this, and I have instructed the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and the Attorney General to proceed accordingly," Governor Matt Mead said.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has suspended all sales of gray wolf licenses and will establish a system to refund hunters who have already purchased a 2014 gray wolf license. Hunting in the trophy game area in northwest Wyoming scheduled to begin in October is suspended pending the outcome of the motion for stay. The judge’s decision also impacts year-round hunting in the predator area and landowners protecting livestock and pets.
"The Game and Fish Department believes in our sound management of wolves over the last two years. Today, we want all wolf hunters and landowners to know that the take of wolves in Wyoming – hunting and lethal take provisions in Wyoming statute – are suspended because of the federal court ruling," said Scott Talbott, WGFD director.
If changes to the status of gray wolf hunting and other lethal take arise, they will be immediately announced by the State of Wyoming.
Wolf Watch By Cat Urbigkit
Beware of fake lottery scams (posted 9/24/14)
Wyoming Lottery Corporation warns Wyoming residents to be on guard against scams trying to trick consumers into providing money or personal financial information in order to claim a fake lottery prize.
"The Wyoming Lottery never asks winners for money in order to claim their prize," stressed Jon Clontz, CEO of the Wyoming Lottery Corporation. "We don’t notify people if they’ve won, they notify us."
A current scam involves an individual making phone calls, claiming to be the Wyoming Lottery and announcing to the person on the phone that they have won $2.5 million from either Powerball® or Mega Millions®. Then the caller asks for $800 to process their claim and pay the taxes.
Tips to keep from being scammed:
- The Wyoming Lottery does not know who the winners are until they come forward with a winning ticket. We do not notify you, you notify the Wyoming Lottery.
- The Wyoming Lottery never requires the payment of any money in order to claim a prize.
- No one should ever send any money to pay any ‘processing fee’ or any other requested fee in order to claim a prize.
- Never deposit any check sent to you that is accompanied by a request that you send or wire money to cover processing or claiming fees. The check that you’ve received is fraudulent and will bounce.
- Never provide any personal or financial information to a scammer, especially Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, and credit card numbers.
You cannot win the Wyoming Lottery if you have not bought a lottery ticket.
If told to verify your prize by calling a certain number, don't call it as that number may be part of the scam. Instead contact the Wyoming Lottery Corporation at 855-995-6886 (855-WY-LOTTO).
Who to contact with questions or to report a lottery-related scam:
Report any attempted scam to the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP or at the FTC Consumer Information website. If you need further information or have questions, contact the Wyoming Lottery Corporation at 855-995-6886 (855-WY-LOTTO) or 307-432-9300
National Public Lands Day Sept. 27th means free entry into National Parks (posted 9/24/14)
Saturday, September 27th is National Public Lands Day, 2014. All national park sites typically offer free entry on this day in an effort to encourage individuals, families, and communities to explore and appreciate America’s great outdoors. The fee for a 7-day pass into Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks by a single, private vehicle is normally $25.
"The fall color display is especially vibrant this year at Grand Teton National Park, and watching wildlife with their seasonal activities adds a special dimension to a late September visit," said Superintendent David Vela. "I highly encourage folks to visit the park this weekend and experience the splendor of the fall season with an added bonus of free entry on Saturday, September 27th."
National Public Lands Day began in 1994 with a purpose to increase awareness of the value of all public lands, to foster shared stewardship of America’s national resources, and to encourage people to volunteer their time. Many people will lend a hand to help the land and spend part of their day participating in work projects across the country. Volunteers are expected to plant trees, clean watersheds, remove invasive plants, replace signs, and otherwise beautify 2,000 public sites. Visit www.publiclandsday.org for more information.
National Public Lands Day is the only time that entrance fees are systematically waived on ALL public lands across America. Fees will be waived at national park units, as well as other land management sites including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and U.S. Forest Service areas. In addition to National Public Lands Day, entrance fees are waived on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in January, Presidents Day in February, National Park Week in April, National Park Founder’s Day in August, and Veterans Day in November.
Visitors are reminded that the fee waiver applies to entrance fees only and does not include use fees for camping, boating, or backcountry permits. For more information on fee-free opportunities in park units around the U.S., visit www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm.
Explosion at Shute Creek Plant results in injuries (posted 9/23/14)
An explosion occurred at a storage tank owned by EOG Resources around 1:56PM on Tuesday, September 23rd. The tank stored natural gas and was undergoing cleaning when the explosion occurred. There were several injuries, but no fatalities, according to Stephen Malik, Public Information Officer for Lincoln County, Wyoming. Malik said the fire is under control and further operations are being turned over to EOG. The plant is located between Kemmerer and LaBarge. Several emergency response units from Sublette County were sent to assist with the incident.
Wyoming wolf management overturned (posted 9/24/14)
Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
Wolf advocates are rejoicing that a federal court in Washington, D.C. has set aside Wyoming’s authority to manage wolves in the state, bringing the species back under protection of the Endangered Species Act. The lawsuit challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision to delist wolves and transfer management of the species to the State of Wyoming was brought by the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Fund for Animals, Humane Society of the United States, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Sierra Club.
There were three major points to the lawsuit:
• the decision was arbitrary and capricious because Wyoming’s regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to protect the species
• the level of genetic exchange shown in the record does not warrant delisting
• and the gray wolf is endangered within a significant portion of its range.
The court sided with wolf advocates on only the first point, but that was enough to overturn the state’s management authority. The decision stated, "The Court will grant plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment in part and deny it in part and remand the matter back to the agency because it finds that the Service could not reasonably rely on unenforceable representations when it deemed Wyoming’s regulatory mechanisms to be adequate. Given the level of genetic exchange reflected in the record, the Court will not disturb the finding that the species has recovered, and it will not overturn the agency’s determination that the species is not endangered or threatened within a significant portion of its range. But the Court concludes that it was arbitrary and capricious for the Service to rely on the state’s nonbinding promises to maintain a particular number of wolves when the availability of that specific numerical buffer was such a critical aspect of the delisting decision."
The rub of the court decision focuses on the fact that Wyoming’s commitment to manage for a wolf population above minimum management targets was spelled out in an Addendum to the Wyoming Wolf Management Plan – instead of regulation.
The court explained: "The Service’s stated recovery goal for gray wolves in the northern Rocky Mountain region is "[t]hirty or more breeding pairs comprising some 300+ wolves in a metapopulation (a population that exists as partially isolated sets of subpopulations) with genetic exchange between subpopulations." FWS divided the overall numeric goal among the three states that comprise the Northern Rocky Mountains, so Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming are each required to have a minimum of ten breeding pairs and 100 wolves. And because the "numerical component of the recovery goal represents the minimum number of breeding pairs and individual wolves needed to achieve and maintain recovery," the 2009 rule requires that Montana and Idaho each maintain a fifty percent buffer above their individual minimum requirements. "In other words, Montana and Idaho must each manage for at least fifteen breeding pairs and 150 wolves. This "buffer above the minimum recovery target" provides an "adequate safety margin, recognizing that all wildlife populations, including wolves, can fluctuate widely over a relatively short period of time."
In delisting the gray wolf in Wyoming, though, the Service took a different approach. Rather than explicitly requiring the state to maintain a fifty percent buffer above its minimum goal, the Service recognized the fact that a significant portion of wolf habitat in Wyoming falls outside the jurisdiction of the state, in federally controlled park land and Native American reservations, and it determined that the wolf population in those areas within the state’s borders could serve as the buffer. So the Service set a minimum goal for Wyoming of ten breeding pairs and 100 wolves – instead of the 15/150 as in Montana and Idaho – but explained that the wolves found in Yellowstone National Park and on the reservation would not be counted towards achieving that goal."
"The Service also concluded, though, that Wyoming would need to manage the population in state-controlled lands above the minimum requirement in order to meet the requirement. "Wyoming will, and must, maintain a buffer to consistently meet its minimum management targets." But rather than identify a specific percentage or numeric buffer, as in Idaho and Montana, the Service relied upon the representations in the Addendum that Wyoming intended to manage above the minimum target to buffer the wolf population."
The Addendum stated this:
"Wyoming is firmly committed to a population at least at these levels as reflected in State statute, regulations, and its management plan. In order to meet these goals and allow for continued management flexibility, Wyoming intends to manage for a population above its minimum management targets."
The problem is that the wording of the Addendum is not a legally enforceable commitment that would satisfy the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service requirement that the state maintain a buffer above the minimum 10/100 numbers.
The court decision stated, "the Service expressly relied upon its understanding that Wyoming would maintain more than ten breeding pairs and 100 wolves within its jurisdiction as a necessary predicate for the delisting" …. Thus, the Court concludes that the challenged delisting decision did in fact rest, at least in part, upon the statements made by the state in the Addendum that it would be managing the species to achieve a goal of more than the ten breeding pairs or 100 wolves mandated by state law."
The court continued: "In this case, the agency did not merely consider the nonbinding statements in the Addendum as one aspect of the state’s overall regulatory scheme: two out of five of the original peer reviewers found the regulatory mechanisms to be inadequate in the absence of a buffer, and the Addendum was submitted by the state in response. The record reflects that FWS specifically relied on the representations in the Addendum as the basis for its conclusion that Wyoming would do what the agency had determined that it must do: manage above the 10/100 minimum. The Court finds that under those circumstances, the reliance on mere assurances was inappropriate, and it rendered the FWS decision arbitrary and capricious."
The full court decision and order may be viewed by clicking on the links below.
Federal Court Opinion - Read the details here.
Federal Court Order - Read the order here.
Wolf Watch By Cat Urbigkit
Wyoming wolves back under Federal protection! (posted 9/23/14)
Now illegal to hunt or kill wolves anywhere within Wyoming’s border
Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
Today (Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014), a federal court in Washington, D.C. set aside Wyoming’s authority to manage wolves within the state – reinstituting Endangered Species Act protection for the species within Wyoming’s border. That means that wolves may not be hunted or harvested in the state. No wolf hunting season can take place, and wolves may not be killed even within Wyoming’s predator zone.
Wyoming livestock producers may not take wolves in their livestock herds. If you have problems with wolves, please call your Wyoming Game and Fish Department contacts, or USDA Wildlife Services at 307-362-7238 or 307-320-5109.
We’ll have more on this story shortly as agencies release more information.
Wolf Watch By Cat Urbigkit
Deadline approaches to purchase preference points (posted 9/15/14)
For big game hunting licenses
Wyoming Game & Fish
Hunters looking to improve their drawing odds in hard to get areas for some big game licenses are reminded that the deadline to purchase preference points is September 30. Wyoming has a special application period from July 1 to Sept. 30 when hunters can purchase preference points.
Preference points are available for moose and bighorn sheep and for nonresident elk, deer, and antelope. Wyoming law requires hunters to apply for a license involving preference points or to purchase preference points at least every other year to maintain their point totals. If a hunter fails to apply for a license with preference points, purchase a preference point, or to apply for a license with the preference point option for two consecutive years, all accumulated preference points for that species will be deleted.
Applications for preference points are accepted online. Printed forms for purchasing points through the mail are no longer available. As with any Game and Fish deadline, applications must be received by 5 p.m. on the deadline date. Hunters who wait until after 5 p.m. on September 30 will find the system will no longer accept applications. Preference points can be purchased online by accessing the Game and Fish website wgfd.wyo.gov. Hunters should make sure they are applying using their correct sportsperson identification number. Hunters unsure of their number can check with the Game and Fish at 307-777-4600 to verify the accuracy of their sportsperson identification number.
Preference points are updated after each year’s deadline. Hunters can check their preference point balances on the Game and Fish website after mid-November.