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Helicopter sharpshooters to kill Grand Teton nonnative goats

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Grand Teton National Park officials planned to begin having contractors shoot nonnative mountain goats from a helicopter as part of a disputed effort to help native bighorn sheep. Park officials closed off a large portion of the Teton Range to the public for the eradication effort Friday. The operation was going ahead despite opposition from Wyoming officials who oppose shooting the goats from a helicopter because the animals' meat would go to waste. The 100 or so goats are descendants of animals introduced near Grand Teton decades ago. The goats compete with and risk spreading pneumonia to a herd of about 100 native bighorn sheep.


Utah man pleads guilty to 17 felonies including sex assault

FARMINGTON, Utah (AP) — An Ogden man accused of several rapes in Utah and Wyoming has pleaded guilty to all 17 charges levied against him, including aggravated sex assault, kidnapping and burglary. The Standard-Examiner reported that 69-year-old Mark Douglas Burns pleaded guilty Thursday. Burns was arrested in September after authorities linked him to multiple cases in Utah and Wyoming through familial DNA. Burns, who was dubbed the “Clearfield Rapist,” is being held in the Davis County Jail. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 6.


Ex-Wyoming teacher pleads not guilty to abuse allegations

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — A former substitute middle school teacher has pleaded not guilty to multiple felonies after authorities say he sexually abused a then 14-year-old girl he met while teaching. The Casper Star-Tribune reported 36-year-old Jason Waugaman entered the pleas Thursday to two counts of second-degree sexual abuse and one count of third-degree sexual abuse of a minor. Prosecutors say the teenage girl told police earlier this year that she and Waugaman communicated through Snapchat for years where he is accused of making sexual comments and requesting nude photos. Natrona County School District officials fired Waugaman from Dean Morgan Junior High in Casper following his January arrest.


Four-year degree planning approved for 2 Wyoming colleges

GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) — The Wyoming Community College Commission has given a college district permission to begin planning to offer four-year degree programs. The recent approval applies to Gillette College and Sheridan College in the Northern Wyoming Community College District. The Gillette News-Record reports it's an essential step toward four-year applied science baccalaureate degrees in management and leadership at the two schools. Four other Wyoming community colleges also are pursuing four-year degrees after Gov. Mark Gordon signed a law allowing them to do so in 2019. Two-year colleges in Wyoming also are seeking Higher Learning Commission approval to offer four-year degrees.


US pushes changes to Western land plans that judge blocked

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. Interior Department officials are seeking to bolster their case for easing restrictions on energy development, mining and grazing in seven Western states. A federal judge in Idaho blocked the Trump administration plans last year over concerns that they could harm greater sage grouse, a ground-dwelling bird. Assistant Interior Secretary Casey Hammond says a new set of environmental studies published Friday clarifies the steps the government will take to conserve sage grouse habitat. The Interior Department opened a 45-day public comment period on the studies that cover millions of acres of public lands in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Oregon and California.


University of Wyoming trustees pick 3 president finalists

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — University of Wyoming trustees have chosen three finalists for the job of university president. The three, announced Thursday, are: Gregory W. Bowman, dean of West Virginia University College of Law; Edward Seidel, vice president for economic development and innovation for the University of Illinois system; and Daniel M. White, chancellor of University of Alaska-Fairbanks. The next president will succeed Laurie Nichols. Trustees didn't renew Nichols' contract in 2019 after investigating interactions she had with employees, a process Nichols has described as unfair. Nichols is now president of Black Hills State University in Spearfish, South Dakota. Trustees have scheduled the three finalists for visits in Wyoming next week and could extend a job offer the following week.

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