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Wyoming digest

Dec 22, 2013 The Associated Press

Jackson bans phones while driving

JACKSON -- The town of Jackson has banned the use of cellphones while driving or biking.

The Jackson Town Council approved the ban on Monday but the new ordinance doesn't take effect until March 1.

Mayor Mark Barron said officers will pull violators over but not issue any tickets during the grace period.

The law makes it illegal to use cellphones or other wireless communication devices such as iPads, while behind the wheel or pedaling a bike.

Exceptions include devices designed for "hands-free" operation and authorized emergency responders.

Violators would be charged with a misdemeanor.

UW conservation work suspended

CHEYENNE -- A University of Wyoming program that paid students to perform conservation work around the state during the summer months has been put on hold because of financial problems.

The Wyoming Conservation Corps program has stopped taking on new projects while it is reviewed by UW officials, according to UW spokesman Chad Baldwin.

"The time has come now to look at options ... so that it can be self-sustaining," Baldwin said.

It is hoped the program can be revived in partial form next year, he said. If not, the program will be suspended at least a year.

The conservation program has been supported by state and federal funding as well as some corporate and nonprofit organizations. It had a total budget of about $533,000 last year.

But Baldwin said state and federal funding has run out or been reduced.

Funding from the federal AmeriCorps program has been reduced from $193,000 a year to $128,000 a year. And $312,000 appropriated by the state Legislature in 2007 to get the program established has run out.

Competitive wolf hunt planned

BOISE, Idaho -- An Idaho outfitter is organizing a post-Christmas contest where two-person teams of hunters will be awarded $2,000 in cash prizes and trophies for shooting wolves and coyotes, angering animal advocates who brand it as a "wolf slaughter."

Shane McAfee, who guides clients on hunts around Salmon, Idaho, downplays the bloodlust angle of this hunting derby, which encourages kids to participate. He expects relatively few predators to be shot during the event Dec. 28-29.

Wolves are game animals in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming after federal Endangered Species Act protections were lifted starting in 2011. There are annual hunting and trapping seasons.

Idaho has about 680 wolves, according to 2012 estimates.

McAfee contends he's mostly aiming to boost local business -- 300 hunters might participate, he said -- and raise awareness about a parasite he believes could be transmitted from wolf feces to domestic dogs and possibly humans.

By contrast, the Humane Society of the United States labels the derby as inhumane. Lisa Kauffman, its Idaho director, said the tapeworm angle is a red-herring, too, as foes "use every excuse they can come up with" as they seek to reduce predator numbers and turn public opinion against wolves reintroduced to the state in 1995.

"This is a wolf massacre," wrote Wayne Pacelle, the Washington, D.C.-based animal-rights group's president, in a letter to members Thursday.

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