Wyoming News Update

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Here is the latest Wyoming news from The Associated Press

Eastern Shoshone Tribe in Wyoming marks return of buffalo

WIND RIVER INDIAN RESERVATION, Wyo. (AP) — Members of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe are marking the return of buffalo to their reservation in central Wyoming more than a century after the animals were wiped out.

The tribe is holding a ceremony Thursday marking the release of 10 genetically pure buffalo from a federal refuge in Iowa. The National Wildlife Federation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have worked on the project.

Buffalo provided food and shelter to the Eastern Shoshone and other Indian tribes before the vast herds of the animals were slaughtered in the late 1800s.

Jason Baldes leads the buffalo restoration work for the Eastern Shoshone. He says establishing a large buffalo herd on the reservation will allow children there to experience how their ancestors traditionally used the animals and share in their spiritual importance.

Home construction lags as Wyoming economy limps on

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Residential building permits in Wyoming are down nearly 13 percent compared to last year.

State economist Jim Robinson blames the decrease on the downturn in the state's energy industry.

Robinson noted a 48 percent drop in residential building permits in Casper alone.

There were 1,316 new residential building permits issued statewide through September this year compared to 1,507 permits issued at the same point last year. The decline in residential construction came in new single family homes.

Robinson tells the Casper Star-Tribune that areas that don't rely on mining are doing better. Cheyenne has seen an 11 percent climb in new building permits over the last year. Robinson says Cheyenne has a diverse private sector built on transportation, financial services and high-tech.

Officials ID Casper man who died after crash, cliff fall

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — A Casper man whose body was found at the bottom of a cliff after a crash has been identified.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports that 61-year-old James Stolt died Oct. 27. An autopsy has been performed, but the coroner's office is waiting on additional test results to determine the man's cause of death.

Authorities say Stolt drove his van off of Wyoming 220 before leaving the vehicle and falling off a cliff about 150 yards from the road.

Natrona County sheriff's Sgt. Aaron Shatto says alcohol was a factor in the crash and his death.

Deputies had discovered the abandoned van before finding his body at the bottom of the cliff.

Collared wolf dead, 3 others survive in Idaho wilderness

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Three of four wolves fitted with tracking collars in a central Idaho wilderness area last year by state officials without federal approval are surviving as another winter approaches.

State officials say the surviving wolves from three different packs are still roaming the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.

Officials say an adult female died in May due to unknown causes.

The U.S. Forest Service in January issued a notice of non-compliance to Idaho Fish and Game after the state agency violated an agreement by using a helicopter to put collars on the wolves while also collaring elk.

State officials blamed miscommunication.

A ruling is pending on a lawsuit filed in January to prevent Idaho from using collar data to track and kill the wolves.

Charge dropped against suspect in Fremont County death

RIVERTON, Wyo. (AP) — Authorities in Fremont County have dropped a second-degree murder charge against a man in the September shooting death of a woman in Dubois.

Chief Deputy Attorney Ember Oakley says Lance Clark was released from custody on Monday after the investigation failed to prove that Clark was the person who pulled the trigger.

Oakley tells The Ranger in Riverton that the conclusion was reached after new evidence surfaced recently.

Clark, of Dubois, had been arrested and charged in the death of his 49-year-old girlfriend, Laurie Margaret Thompson. Clark called police on the night of Sept. 25 and said he found her dead when he arrived home.

Oakley says the investigation remains open and investigators have not ruled out the possibility of an alternate suspect.

Wyoming coal production up in third quarter

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming's coal production went way up in the third quarter of 2016 but officials say the industry still has a ways to go before it meets projections for the year.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports that coal production soared 42 percent in the third quarter compared to the second one, good news after the industry suffered record price lows, debt and layoffs earlier this year.

The state's 16 active mines provided almost 85 million tons of coal this last quarter, up from 60 million tons in the second quarter and 65 million tons in the first.

Coal producers still have to dig an additional 90 million tons of coal from Oct. 1 to the end of the year to meet projections from the state's Consensus Revenue Estimating Group.