Continuing the Crook County News Since 1884

Articles written by Mike Koshmrl


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  • Herding elk: Drone use takes off in Wyoming wildlife management

    Mike Koshmrl, WyoFile.com|Feb 15, 2024

    WYOMING RANGE FOOTHILLS-From its mobile perch high in the sky, the infrared camera didn't detect so much as a jackrabbit. Jared Rogerson, a Wyoming Game and Fish Department wildlife disease biologist, wielded the controller of the DGI Matrice 300 drone from a flat, grassy field just outside of the Bench Corral Elk Feedground's fenced haystacks. He scanned one acre of sagebrush and grass after the next. This was the state agency's top-of-the-line drone, a roughly $12,000 machine, and he was... Full story

  • Wyoming's latest coyote-killing plan results from brutal 2022-'23 winter

    Mike Koshmrl, WyoFile.com|Feb 1, 2024

    Last winter killed most of western Wyoming's mule deer. That prompted calls to kill predators, and wildlife managers listened – even though there was little scientific support to prove it would work to bring deer back. Because of speculation that mountain lions would hold the deer population low, more were targeted – and killed – in the regions where winter hit mule deer the hardest. There were outfitter calls to kill more black bears, too, though the Wyoming Game and Fish Department did not u...

  • Fewer elk. Sicker elk. That's what the experts expect if Wyoming keeps on feeding.

    Mike Koshmrl, WyoFile.com|Dec 21, 2023

    If Wyoming keeps throwing hay to help elk survive the winter, the state is creating a future where wapiti will be ravaged by chronic wasting disease and dramatically reduced in number. Hunter opportunities, likewise, will fall off significantly. At least that’s what the experts expect. Eight experts, to be exact, including three employees of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Here are their projections for what’s coming to northwest Wyoming elk herds in two decades if state officials entrusted to manage the herds continue feeding while alw...

  • Endangered Species Act protections for wolverines likely imminent

    Mike Koshmrl, WyoFile.com|Nov 2, 2023

    An analysis of wolverines in Wyoming and the rest of their Lower 48 range paints a grim picture of a low-density species that’s losing its habitat and facing an uncertain future. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a 100-page “species status assessment” for North American wolverines in late September. That document presages a final determination that federal wildlife managers must make by late November to satisfy a May 2022 federal court order. The assessment’s closing paragra...

  • Wyoming sues over feds' tardiness on grizzly delisting decision

    Mike Koshmrl, WyoFile.com|Jun 8, 2023

    The state of Wyoming is going to court again over grizzly bears, this time because federal wildlife officials missed a deadline to decide whether they would pursue removing Endangered Species Act protections. State officials announced their petition in a cheeky press release this week, accusing the U.S. Department of Interior of "hibernating" on deadline. "The petition seeks to remedy the DOI's inaction," the statement from Gov. Mark Gordon's office said. Under federal policy, the U.S. Fish and...

  • Mussel-infected boat intercepted in Yellowstone

    Mike Koshmrl, Jackson Hole News&Guide Via Wyoming News Exchange|Jul 8, 2021

    JACKSON – For Sue Mills, it was simultaneously concerning and reassuring for her staff to find a quagga mussel attached to a boat that was about to hit the water in Yellowstone National Park. As Yellowstone’s aquatic invasive species coordinator, it’s Mills’ chief professional responsibility to ensure that nonnative critters and plants don’t find their way into park waters. And so Thursday, June 17, was a worst-case scenario kind of day: one of her seven seasonal inspectors discovered a lone quagga mussel aboard a rented pontoon that was inten...

  • Shed season, winter closure ending align in '21

    Mike Koshmrl, Jackson Hole Daily Via Wyoming News Exchange|Apr 22, 2021

    JACKSON — Federal and state agencies have sorted out discombobulation that led to an awfully confusing 2020 onset to the popular antler gathering season in western Wyoming. When May 1 strikes in 2021, there’s one time to keep in mind: 6 a.m. That’s the day and time when the Bridger-Teton National Forest will lift its winter closures and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department will allow people to pick up shed antlers off public land in the region. National Elk Refuge staff will lead a motorcade down Refuge Road at 6 a.m. to forest lands, and g...

  • Yellowstone grizzly population jumps with count revision

    Mike Koshmrl, Jackson Hole Daily Via Wyoming News Exchange|Apr 15, 2021

    JACKSON — Federal scientists who track grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are revising a key criterion that underlies how they count bears, with the effect being a 34% to 43% jump in the population estimate. The change brings the estimated population from 727 grizzlies up to more than 1000 animals. The protocol used to count grizzlies — called the Chao 2 method — is staying the same, continuing a method that’s been used since 2007. What’s changing is a filter that determines how many female grizzlies with cubs get plugged i...

  • Dirty campground lures bear, leading to its death

    Mike Koshmrl, Jackson Hole Daily Via Wyoming News Exchange|Jun 25, 2020

    JACKSON — Food, garbage and vomit were scattered around a dispersed Darby Canyon campsite early June 14 when state wildlife officials arrived to respond to a report of a pre-dawn mountain lion attack. The supposed cat struck through a tent, raking a sleeping man in the back. But at the scene, Wyoming Game and Fish Department staffers Mike Boyce and Becca Lyon saw no sign of a cat. They did see ursine spoor, and 50 yards off the campsite found a decomposed deer carcass that had been fed on by a black bear just the night before. “Clearly a bea...

  • Elk numbers up at refuge

    Mike Koshmrl, Jackson Hole Daily Via Wyoming News Exchange|Mar 5, 2020

    JACKSON — Numbers of wapiti drawn to the National Elk Refuge’s feed lines are up significantly this winter, with 8,095 animals counted during an assessment a week ago. The overall on-feed count is 11% greater than the 10-year average of 7314 elk, and it’s 23% higher than the 2019 tally of 6586 wapiti. Given that it has been an average winter at low elevations, the number and distribution of elk found eating alfalfa pellets on the Feb. 18 survey day are right about what Elk Refuge biologist Eric Cole would expect to see. Overall, this appea...

  • Interior secretary halts goat cull

    Mike Koshmrl, Jackson Hole Daily Via Wyoming News Exchange|Feb 27, 2020

    JACKSON — The U.S. Secretary of the Interior directly intervened in an aerial goat cull underway in the Tetons last Friday, ordering Grand Teton National Park Acting Superintendent Gopaul Noojibail to “stand down.” David Bernhardt, who presides over the National Park Service’s governmental parent, became involved in Teton Park’s affairs after his office received a sharply worded letter that Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon sent to Noojibail the same day. The governor said he was “profoundly disappointed” that the park was “unilaterally aerially executi...

  • Elk Refuge to begin feeding cutbacks in spring

    Mike Koshmrl, Jackson Hole Daily Via Wyoming News Exchange|Jan 9, 2020

    JACKSON — With some last-minute changes being made to satisfy the state of Wyoming, the National Elk Refuge is moving forward with a five-year plan to start whittling down its historic elk-feeding program. A document outlining the long-delayed changes, dubbed a “step-down” plan, is supposed to achieve goals that were established in an overarching plan some 13 years ago: reducing elk numbers to 5000 and skipping supplemental alfalfa feeding during average winters. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed in its draft plan to alter the proto...

  • Game and Fish to eliminate elk feedground

    Mike Koshmrl, Jackson Hole Daily Via Wyoming News Exchange|Oct 10, 2019

    JACKSON — The Wyoming Game and Fish Department will eliminate the legally embattled Alkali Creek elk feedground in coming years as the threat of chronic wasting disease looms. The Bridger-Teton National Forest feedground, the lowest elevation of three in the Gros Ventre River valley, had been studied and then authorized for long-term use in 2015. But four environmental groups hit the forest with a lawsuit, winning in 2018. Rather than appealing or spending years studying the feedground’s impacts to address the judge’s concerns, the Forest Servi...

  • Wyoming lawmakers won't touch 'yote whacking' with snowmobiles

    Mike Koshmrl, Jackson Hole Daily Via Wyoming News Exchange|Aug 8, 2019

    JACKSON — A Jackson Hole woman’s effort to criminalize running down and running over coyotes with snowmobiles was shot down last week by a legislative committee. Local wildlife activist Lisa Robertson has had the ear of Rep. Mike Yin, of Teton County, who last legislative session unsuccessfully sought to prohibit killing, injuring or torturing predatory animals using snowmobiles. He tried again last week to bring the bill to an interim committee in Thermopolis, but the lawmakers declined in an 11-to-2 vote. Sen. Glenn Moniz, of Albany County, s...

  • Colorado wolf last seen in Yellowstone

    Mike Koshmrl, Jackson Hole Daily Via Wyoming News Exchange|Jul 18, 2019

    JACKSON — As recently as last fall, the animal that’s making headlines as the first Colorado wolf in four years was wandering one of the most remote and wild landscapes left in the Lower 48 states. It was the closing days of October when a pilot contracted by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department pinged 1084M with his Snake River Pack mates in the willow complex not far from Hawk’s Rest, a craggy mountain overlooking the Upper Yellowstone River that’s famous for its location — as far as one can get from a road in the Lower 48. The three-yea...

  • Elk feeding essential, but not needed yet

    Mike Koshmrl, Jackson Hole Daily Via Wyoming News Exchange|Jan 24, 2019

    JACKSON — Alfalfa-spewing elk-feeding trucks and the federal employees who drive them will be deemed “essential” and thus unaffected by the partial government shutdown, but so far the herds are OK without the help. National Elk Refuge Biologist Eric Cole has been allowed to work part time to determine when feeding is needed, and he has found that grasses are still plentiful and accessible for the approximately 2,800 elk congregated on the refuge’s south end. “What we’ve had going for us is we haven’t had any significant thaw-freeze c...

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