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Dec 13, 2012 - The Associated Press

Snowmobiling generates $175M

CHEYENNE -- A recent study by the University of Wyoming says snowmobiling generates more than $175 million a year for the state economy.

The report says snowmobilers directly spend $147 million across the state, supporting the equivalent of 1,300 jobs and generating more than $7 million in annual state and local government revenue.

The Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at UW prepared the study. It focuses on snowmobiling at the 12 trail systems and 2,000 miles of snowmobile trails managed by the Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources.

Airport will share bird data

JACKSON -- The nation's only commercial airport inside a national park is keeping secret its plans to protect birds from collisions with aircraft.

Jackson Hole Airport will make its environmental analysis public for review once it's done. The airport is working on a plan to protect birds, especially sage grouse.

The bird plan is required by the Federal Aviation Administration and will be finalized over the next six to eight months. The airport director tells the newspaper that any actions suggested by the analysis could require further study and public comment.

Court hears Sheridan appeal

CHEYENNE -- Wyoming Supreme Court justices grilled lawyers Wednesday for suggestions on how to handle the cases of two teenagers sentenced to life in prison for the home invasion slaying of a Sheridan man following a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision outlawing mandatory juvenile life sentences.

Wyatt Bear Cloud and Dharminder Vir Sen, together with another defendant already over the age of 18, were convicted of murder in the August 2009 home invasion killing of Sheridan businessman Robert Ernst. Bear Cloud was 16 and Sen, the triggerman, was 15 when the trio broke into Ernst's home and killed him in front of his wife.

Lawyers for Bear Cloud and Sen asked the state Supreme Court Wednesday to reduce their sentences, citing the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision.

Jeffrey Pope, assistant Wyoming attorney general, argued that Bear Cloud may merit a new sentencing hearing so a district judge could consider the possibility of allowing him to become eventually eligible for parole. But Pope said a life sentence would remain appropriate for Sen.

"The real issue before this court is what should it do?" Pope said. "We obviously have a problem."

Food-borne illness reported

CASPER -- The Natrona County Health Department has received more than 50 reports of food-borne illness this week.

Agency director Bob Harrington says reports of vomiting and diarrhea have been widespread in Casper and his department suspects it could be norovirus.

Norovirus is the leading cause of foodborne disease outbreaks worldwide, according to the National Institutes of Health. Norovirus causes flu-like symptoms, such as vomiting or diarrhea.

The agency suspects a local restaurant, but Harrington said it's too soon to definitively pinpoint the cause.

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