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Wyoming in brief

Wolf pack rebounds after leaders’ deathsJACKSON – A wolf pack weakened by the deaths of its male and female leaders rebounded this summer with nine pups.

“We don’t know whether they had a double litter or an unusually large litter,” said Mike Jimenez, gray wolf recovery project leader in Wyoming. “It really is a statement of their resilience.”

The Teton pack lost its alpha male when a motorist struck and killed the wolf in Grand Teton National Park in June 1999. The alpha female struggled to raise five pups, with help from federal officials who dropped carcasses nearby.

The pack had no pups last summer. Last winter, the alpha female was poisoned. Her death is under investigation.

The pack now has three or four adult wolves, Jimenez said.

About two weeks ago federal agents killed one of the pack members near Cokeville for attacking sheep, Jimenez said. Another wolf that may have belonged to the pack was killed for attacking livestock near Pinedale, he said.

Rattlesnakes head to Rawlins for waterRAWLINS – A lack of water has sent scores of rattlesnakes into Rawlins in larger-than-usual numbers.

Many of them have been “very aggressive,” said Police Chief Tony Rose.

So far there have been few injuries. Two people with snake bites were treated at Memorial Hospital of Carbon County.

Many dogs have been bit, although the problems have decreased in recent weeks, said Dr. Warner McFarland of the Carbon County Veterinary Hospital.

“Hopefully it’s going to subside now that more people are aware snakes are around,” he said.

Many reports of rattlesnakes have come from northern Rawlins near the eastern flanks of the Rawlins Uplift.

“It is the biggest run that I can recall,” Rose said.

Police look for suspect in Cheyenne stabbingCHEYENNE – Police are looking for a male suspect they believe stabbed a 21-year-old man Sunday.

Steve Tyndall underwent surgery at United Medical Center-West for his injuries.

Tyndall was stabbed in the chest during a fight at about 3 a.m. on the 900 block of Crest Park, police said.

Detective Sgt. Jeff Schulz of the Cheyenne Police Department said police have a suspect.

No one has been arrested, he said. He declined to comment further.

Senate to debate higher PILT paymentsA proposal to increase federal payments in lieu of taxes to Western counties has cleared its first hurdle in Congress, U.S. Sen. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., said.

The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved the proposal for debate on the Senate floor.

The measure backed by Thomas would spend $220 million on the so-called PILT program. A House version has proposed $200 million and the Bush administration has suggested $150 million, Thomas said.

“This year it will be important to convince the Bush administration as well as Congress that counties are being asked to do more and more in regards to the federal lands within their borders,” Thomas said.

PILT compensates local governments for federal land that would otherwise generate property taxes.

Lander Lil statue stolenLANDER – A statue of Lander Lil, the West’s answer to Puxatawny Phil, has been stolen, police said.

The bronze of the famous prairie dog was discovered missing Saturday morning from its site near the Lander post office. The statue was taken between 3 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. Saturday, police said.

The statue is three feet tall and weighs about 125 pounds. It was bolted into a cement base.

According to legend, Lander Lil and her famous Pennsylvania cousin, Puxatawny Phil, predict the number of months left of winter by seeing their shadows on Groundhog Day.

Anyone with information about the theft is asked to contact the Lander Police Department at (307) 332-3131.

Fire crews released from Bridger-Teton firesFavorable weather conditions enabled firefighters to make progress in fighting numerous fires in the Bridger-Teton National Forest in western Wyoming over the weekend.

The U.S. Forest Service was able to begin pulling some crews and helicopters out of the Fisherman and Greys River complex fires on Monday.

However, another new fire broke out on the forest south of Big Piney. The exact size was not immediately known, and five engines and one helicopter were dispatched.

Power line on fast track for approvalCASPER – The Western Area Power Administration will speed up environmental studies of a proposed power transmission line from Wyoming to Colorado.

North American Power Group is planning to build a 350-mile electric transmission line from the Powder River Basin in northeast Wyoming to the Denver area.

Jim Hartman, Western Area Power Administration environmental engineer, said the agency is aiming to have the environmental impact studies done by next May.

“That’s certainly a fast-track for an EIS of this size,” Hartman said. “I think it is doable, but a lot of things have to fall into place to allow us to meet that.”

The power line involves two states, 11 counties, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and hundreds of landowners.

While Wyoming has plenty of resources to produce power, there aren’t enough transmission lines with the capacity to carry it all out of the state.

Rock blasting to shut down I-80 brieflyRAWLINS – Interstate 80 eastbound is expected to shut down briefly Tuesday and Wednesday mornings between Rawlins and Sinclair for rock blasting.

The delays will start at 8:30 each morning and last for 30 to 40 minutes, officials said. Rock is being blasted as part of a construction project on the interstate.

Wyoming 76 from Rawlins to Sinclair also will close during those times, said Ralph Tarango, resident engineer.

Runway project awaits Congressional fundingRIVERTON – Plans to widen and reinforce a runway at Riverton Regional Airport are on hold until Congress approves $1 million for the project.

Work was scheduled Aug. 6-9 to improve a crosswind runway to accommodate commercial aircraft on windy days.

Political changes in the White House and Senate have delayed funding, apparently, officials said. But officials are expected to hear within a week that the money is coming.

The nearly $3 million project may have to be rebid if the funding delays continue, said airport manager and city engineer Vern Heisler.

The $1 million is discretionary funding from the Federal Aviation Administration.

“Our main goal is still to get the crosswind runway improvement project built this year,” Heisler said.

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