CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission on Wednesday approved a wolf hunting season this fall that allows for hunters to take up to 58 wolves, which is up from the 44 wolves that were allowed to be hunted last year.
There are about 350 wolves roaming Wyoming, including about 210 in areas where the state manages their numbers with hunting.
State game managers who are tasked with trying to control the animals that can prey on domestic livestock want to see that 210 brought down to about 160.
Game and Fish wolf biologist Ken Mills told commissioners that 160 wolves would leave the state with about 14 breeding pairs, easily meeting the state's commitment to maintaining at least 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs.
Wolf advocates have been critical of Wyoming's management of wolves and have opposed the increased number that could be hunted this fall.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department and Commission continue to focus on reducing the wolf population toward the bare minimum, Jonathan Proctor, of Defenders of Wildlife, said in a statement Wednesday.
“Wolves are an important component of Wyoming's natural heritage, and should be managed toward achieving healthy and abundant populations across large landscapes so that they may perform their important natural role,'' Proctor said.
Changes approved by the state commission include allowing hunters to kill up to two wolves and starting the season a month earlier in some places on Sept. 1. The commission met in Laramie.
Wolf hunting remains prohibited in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, the National Elk Refuge near Jackson and on the Wind River Indian Reservation.
Neighboring Montana and Idaho also have established wolf hunting seasons.
A federal appeals court in early 2017 lifted endangered species protection for wolves in Wyoming, allowing the state to take over management of the animals and re-establish its wolf hunting season.
Wolves were reintroduced to the Northern Rockies in the mid-1990s. Since then, the animal has been the subject of debate between conservationists who want to see wolf numbers grow and livestock operators who want wolf numbers controlled to protect their businesses.
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A Denver woman accused of shooting at officers during protests in North Dakota against the Dakota Access oil pipeline was sentenced Wednesday to four years and nine months in federal prison.
Red Fawn Fallis, 39, was accused of firing a handgun three times while resisting arrest on Oct. 27, 2016. No one was hurt. Fallis, a member of the Oglala Sioux tribe, denied intentionally trying to injure anyone and claimed not to remember firing the gun after being tackled by police.
She pleaded guilty Jan. 22 to civil disorder and illegal possession of a gun by a convicted felon. She has a 2003 conviction in Colorado for being an accessory to a felony crime. Court records show she was accused of driving a car for a man who shot and wounded another man.
Prosecutors in the pipeline case agreed to drop a count of discharge of a firearm during a felony crime of violence and to recommend a sentence of no more than seven years in prison, though U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland could have gone as high as 15 years. He could have gone up to 25 years had the third charge not been dropped. The defense asked for no more than 2 1/2 years.
Hovland handed down his sentence at the conclusion of a 5 1/2-hour hearing in a courtroom filled with dozens of Fallis' supporters.
“This is a very serious case that could have escalated into something far worse,'' Hovland said, adding that it could have become a “chaotic shootout.''
Attorneys for both sides had no immediate comment on whether they would appeal.
Fallis appeared at her sentencing wearing what she has described as “culturally appropriate clothing'' that reflects her pride in her Native American heritage. Hovland earlier granted her request to not have to wear jail clothing.
Fallis spoke for several minutes when the judge allowed her to comment, saying she regrets what happened and is using it as an impetus to turn around her troubled life.
“I made poor choices once again and it hindered my decision-making,'' she said, adding later that “I'm sorry for what the officers had to go through because of my choices.''
Before being escorted from the courtroom she turned to her family members, thanking them for their support and telling them she loved them.
Debate during the hearing centered on whether Fallis intentionally fired at officers, and how much her troubled childhood and history of abusive adult relationships contributed to her frame of mind.
A psychologist called by the defense testified that Fallis suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, and a physiology professor said she might have involuntarily fired the gun without even being aware of it.
Assistant U.S. Attorney David Hagler questioned the assertions.
Judge Hovland concluded that “nobody knows what the real purpose was'' of Fallis firing the gun but that “at a minimum (she) committed a menacing-type assault on the officers.''
Fallis' attorneys said the decision not to take the case to trial was based on anti-protester sentiment in the area and unsuccessful attempts to have Hovland order the prosecution to turn over more information, including details about an FBI informant Fallis alleges seduced her and owned the gun.
The government maintained in court documents that it turned over all information about the informant and that “defendants' reference to the FBI informant as some sort of complex issue is misplaced.''
Fallis' arrest was one of 761 that authorities made in southern North Dakota during the height of protests in 2016 and 2017. At times thousands of pipeline opponents gathered in the region to protest the $3.8 billion project to move North Dakota oil to Illinois, but the effort didn't stop the project.
The pipeline has been operating for a year. Opponents fear environmental harm, and four Native American tribes in the Dakotas are still fighting it in court. Texas-based developer Energy Transfer Partners says it's safe.
PHOENIX (AP) — A 31-year-old former Navajo Nation police officer has been sentenced to 16 years for a fatal DUI crash.
Kevin Richard Hevel was sentenced Friday by a Maricopa County Superior Court judge after previously pleading guilty to second-degree murder in the 2017 death of 61-year-old Peter Rankin.
Rankin was killed while bicycling after Hevel drove off a street and onto a sidewalk. Hevel then drove off before colliding with a marked police car.
The County Attorney's Office said Hevel told police that he had “a lot to drink'' and was found to have a blood-alcohol level of 0.235, or nearly three times Arizona's presumed limit of 0.08.
Hevel was fired several days after the collision.
The Navajo Nation said he had worked for the police department for 10 years.