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|NEWS AND UPDATES (Click here for archived news stories)|| |
Interagency media release
JACKSON, WYOMING— Early in the evening on March 22, the first grizzly bear of 2023 was observed in Grand Teton National Park. As bears become active this spring, Bear Wise Jackson Hole reminds residents and visitors to secure attractants of any kind and be bear aware.
Adult male grizzly bears typically emerge from hibernation in March, while females with young typically appear between April and early May. The first grizzly bear sighting of 2022 in the Jackson Hole area occurred on March 13 in Grand Teton National Park. When bears emerge from their dens, they search for any available foods and often scavenge animals that died during the winter.
Seeing a bear in its natural habitat is an awe-inspiring experience. However, living and recreating in bear country requires awareness and actions on our part to keep bears and people safe. As the grizzly bear population expands within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, bears continue to disperse across their historical range but also into more populated areas. All of Teton County is now in occupied grizzly bear habitat.
Properly storing all attractants to ensure that a bear does not obtain a food reward is crucial to keeping bears wild. Once a bear becomes conditioned to human foods, risks to the bear and humans increase and management options become limited. Whether you have lived in Teton County for decades or are visiting the area for a day, please do your part to help protect bears.
If you are a resident:
- For those who may be leaving the valley for spring break, please look around your homes and yards for any unsecured attractants and secure them before you leave.
- Store all garbage in bear-resistant containers or in a secure building.
- Secure livestock feed, chicken coops, pet food, compost, and beehives. Electric fences are effective for securing many of these attractants.
- Hang birdfeeders in a way that makes them inaccessible to bears.
- Help your neighbors create a bear-wise community to protect bears (and all wildlife).
If you are visiting a national park or national forest:
- Never leave your food unattended unless it is properly secured.
- Keep a clean camp and adhere to all food storage orders. Store all attractants, including coolers, cooking gear, toiletries, and pet food, inside a bear box or a hard-sided vehicle with the windows rolled up.
- Do not eat or cook in your tent, and never keep food or other scented items in your tent.
- Properly store garbage until you can deposit it into a bear-resistant dumpster.
- If you see a bear, please give it space, and always stay at least 100 yards away. If you choose to watch or photograph the bear, use a spotting scope, binoculars, or telephoto lens. Park in designated areas and never block travel lanes.
- Follow the directions of staff in places where bears are sighted.
- Please respect all wildlife closure areas.
If you are exploring the backcountry:
- Be alert and aware of your surroundings.
- Make noise, especially in areas with limited
visibility or when sound is muffled (e.g., near streams or when it is windy).
- Carry bear spray, know how to use it, and keep it readily accessible.
- in groups of three or more people.
- Do not run. Back away slowly if you encounter a bear.
As interagency partners, Bear Wise Jackson Hole, Teton County, the Town of Jackson, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will continue our collective efforts to proactively prevent conflicts between bears and people in the Jackson Hole area. Together, as a community, we made tremendous progress last year. Let’s keep up the great work. By securing attractants and taking appropriate precautions while living in or visiting bear country, we can keep bears wild and people safe.
Bear Wise Jackson Hole was established in 2006 as a local chapter of the Wyoming Bear Wise Community Program and is a partnership between Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Grand Teton National Park, Bridger-Teton National Forest, and Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation working collaboratively with the Town of Jackson, Teton County, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Our objective is to minimize the accessibility of unnatural attractants to bears and educate residents and visitors about bears and conflict prevention.
Rocky Mountain Power grants support western Wyoming arts and cultural organizations (posted 3/16/2023)
Cases of COVID-19 have dropped significantly across Wyoming in 2023, the 4th year of the pandemic. The Wyoming Department of Health reports 2,256 lab-confirmed and probable cases through March 7, 2023 and 28 deaths in the state attributed to the virus. Wyoming hospitals report 19 people still in the hospital with COVID-19 across the state as of March 7th. St. Johns Medical Center in Jackson had one COVID-19 patient as of March 7th.
Sublette County has had 16 total lab-confirmed and probable cases over the 2-1/2 months into the year and zero deaths in 2023. Neighboring county to the north, Teton County, has had 101 total lab-confirmed and probable cases and zero deaths. Sweetwater County to the south of Sublette County has had 73 lab-confirmed and probable cases and 2 deaths in 2023 as of March 7.
The COVID-19 virus is believed to have begun as early as December 2019, with cases starting to rise in the US in mid-January 2020. Data recording on the Wyoming Department of Health website began on February 11, 2020. The first case in Wyoming was reported on March 11, 2020 in a woman in Sheridan County who had recently traveled domestically. National health concerns grew very quickly. On March 20, 2020, Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon closed all public schools in the state through April 3rd (they remained closed until May 15th). On March 24, Yellowstone National Park closed to visitors. On April 13, 2020, Wyoming became the last state in the U.S. to report its first death from COVID-19. On December 9, 2020, Wyoming issued an indoor mask mandate. Restrictions on group gathering size, social distancing, and business operations followed and the mask mandate continued during 2020 into early 2021, and ended on March 16, 2021.
There appear to have been three waves of the virus over the past three years in Wyoming. The first wave with a lot of cases was October/November 2020 with the peak in mid-November 2020 with 940 cases reported in the state. The first vaccines were administered in Wyoming in mid-December 2020. Things settled down for many months, then another smaller wave of cases returned in August/September/October 2021 with peak cases of 603 on September 20, 2021. After a short lull, a huge one-month spike in cases hit in January 2022 with the peak on January 24 with 1839 cases in Wyoming, the most cases per day during the entire pandemic. The three waves were generally attributed chronologically to the alpha, beta, and omicron variants of the virus, although other variants were noted in testing results. Another three months went by in early 2022 with minimal activity, then another small wave hit Wyoming in the summer, June/July/August 2022, with the peak on July 5th with 407 confirmed COVID-19 cases. September through December 2022 had a steady low-level number of cases across the state. In all of 2023, the 4th year of the pandemic, new case reporting in the state has been in the 10-45/day range.
Over the course of the three-years-plus of the pandemic, there have been 2,004 deaths in Wyoming attributed to the virus. As of the time of this article, the last death in Wyoming was reported on February 26, 2023. No one age 18 or under has reportedly died from COVID-19 in the state. The Wyoming Department of Health reports that 80% of COVID-19 related deaths in Wyoming were in people age 60 and older, many of whom already had health conditions known to put people at higher risk of severe illness.
The Johns Hopkins website, which has provided daily national and world-wide COVID-19 tracking information for three years, stopped collecting data as of March 10, 2023. They reported 103.8 million cases in the US over the course of the pandemic and 1.1 million deaths. They report nation-wide 81.82% of the country’s population have received at least 1 vaccine dose.
Sublette County has had 16 COVID-19 cases so far in 2023, with 54 interspersed days January-March 9th with no cases reported; 8 of the 16 cases in Sublette County were recorded between February 1 to March 9th. As of February 23, 2023, 39% of Sublette County's entire population has been fully vaccinated, and 44.7% has received at least one dose, according to numbers released by the CDC, and compared to 56.3% vaccination rate for the state. Sublette County Public Health is still offering weekly COVID vaccine clinics for ages 6+ months. Walk-ins are welcome on their scheduled clinic days or by calling 307-367-2157 to schedule an appointment. Primary series of Moderna (ages 6+ months – adults), Moderna & Pfizer Bivalent Boosters, and Novavax (18+) are offered at their weekly clinics. Sublette County Public Health has a banner on their official COVID-19 website, www.sublettewycovid.com, that the webpage is no longer being maintained and in a month, on April 9, 2023, the site will not be active. There are currently no restrictions related to COVID-19 in Wyoming.
Nationally, as of March 2023, non-U.S. citizen, non-U.S. immigrants must show proof of being fully vaccinated with the primary series of an accepted COVID-19 vaccine before boarding their flights to enter the United States. Only limited exceptions apply. Out-of-country travelers are still recommended to get and have proof of COVID-19 vaccines and a negative COVID-19 test result, according to the CDC website, and rules vary for travel to other foreign countries.
On Jan. 30, 2023, the Biden Administration announced its intent to end the COVID-19 pandemic national emergency and public health emergency declarations on May 11, 2023. These federal emergency declarations have been in place since early 2020.
Click on this link for more COVID-19 related graphics
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) - Wyoming Wyoming Department of Health
COVID-19 Pandemic in Wyoming - Timeline Wikipedia
Documenting Wyoming’s path to recovery from the coronavirus pandemic - COVID-19 – 2020-2021 ballotpedia.org
COVID-19 timeline in the United States Wikipedia
Executive Office of the President – Statement of Administrative Policy (PDF) Related to ending the COVID-19 national public health emergency and National Emergency Declaration, January 30, 2023
Pneumonia believed to be cause of pronghorn deaths south of Pinedale (posted 3/11/2023)
Drought response releases suspended at Flaming Gorge Reservoir (posted 3/6/2023)
National Park Service – Yellowstone National Park
MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, WYOMING - Yellowstone National Park’s winter season starts to wrap up March 5, 2023 as roads begin to close to the public. By March 15 at 9 p.m., most park roads will close including the South, West and East entrances. Annually most of the park closes to the public to plow roads for a spring opening.
Park road and entrance closure dates (gates close at 9 p.m.)
March 5: Mammoth Hot Springs to Norris
March 7: Norris to Madison, Norris to Canyon Village
March 12: Canyon Village to Fishing Bridge Junction
March 15: South, West and East entrances and all remaining roads
Visitor services closure dates
At Mammoth Hot Springs, the hotel’s Gift Shop, Ski Shop and Map Room Barista/Bar will be open through March 5 for the winter season.
At Old Faithful, the Bear Den Gift Shop, Geyser Grill and Visitor Education Center will be open through March 15. The Snow Lodge and Cabins will be open through March 4 for the winter season.
Warming hut closure dates range between March 5 and March 15.
The road from the park’s North Entrance at Gardiner, Montana, through Mammoth Hot Springs and Tower Junction to Cooke City, Montana, remains open to automobiles all year, weather-permitting.
Visitors driving to and in the park this time of year should have flexible travel plans and prepare for changing weather conditions. Temporary travel restrictions or closures can occur at any time. To view the current status of park roads:
• Visit Yellowstone’s website at park roads.
• Receive Yellowstone road alerts on your mobile phone by texting "82190" to 888-777 (an automatic text reply will confirm receipt and provide instructions).
• Call 307-344-2117 for recorded information.At Mammoth Hot Springs, the Albright Visitor Center, Yellowstone General Store, post office, medical clinic and self-service fuel pumps stay open all year. Self-service fuel pumps are also available at the Tower-Roosevelt Service Station year-round.
Weather-permitting, some park roads and entrances will open to the public April 21, 2023 at 8 a.m.
2022 Summary Report available for free download
Wyoming State Geological Survey
Wyoming’s oil and gas production was, for the most part, back to normal in 2022, according to the latest summary report (free download) on oil and gas from the Wyoming State Geological Survey (WSGS). The goal of this annual report from the Energy and Minerals division is to inform the general public about recent events and trends in the oil and gas industry.
One of the most positive items in this year’s report was that oil production in 2022 was greater than had been originally predicted. At the beginning of last year, the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group (CREG) estimated a statewide total of 85 million barrels of oil, but in October CREG revised its forecast, adding an extra five million barrels to Wyoming’s production. By the end of the year, it was clear that Wyoming was on track to meet or slightly exceed that revised prediction.
The summary report also discussed oil production throughout the state in finer detail. In reviewing production by county, the report noted that 60 percent of Wyoming’s oil comes from just two counties, Converse and Campbell counties, in the Powder River Basin. In addition, Laramie County, in the northern Denver Basin, contributes more than 10 percent of the state’s total.
As for natural gas, production in Wyoming either held steady or declined in 2022. Sublette, Sweetwater, and Fremont continued to be the top producing counties.
In addition to providing a recap of last year’s production, the report mentioned a few recent developments to keep an eye on going forward. For one, some changes had been made to the Bureau of Land Management oil and gas lease sale process in 2022, including a new royalty rate. Although only one sale took place in 2022, the future might bring a return to quarterly sales. When the report was published, the BLM had announced preliminary parcels for its second- and third-quarter lease sales this year.
Also new in oil and gas last year was record-breaking market volatility due in part to global supply disruptions. With unpredictable day-to-day oil and natural gas prices, it can be difficult for oil and gas companies to plan for the long term. Exactly how this will play out for operators in Wyoming is uncertain, but, as the report concludes, "If anything is certain, it is that Wyoming’s oil and gas industry will continue to adapt to an always changing, often unpredictable world."
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