Wyoming News Update

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WYOMING-TRANSPARENCY WEBSITE

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming has launched a website that provides information about the finances of 110 state government entities.

The Casper Star-Tribune reported Wednesday that State Auditor Kristi Racines announced the website Wednesday in Cheyenne with Republican Gov. Mark Gordon.

The site, WyOpen.gov, is an attempt by the state government to offer comprehensive financial transparency.

The newspaper reports the platform lacks financial information for a number of agencies, but is a response to a threat of legal action by advocacy organization OpenTheBooks.com.

Racines says the site was temporarily live this week and will be reactivated in several weeks.

She says the tool could help foster greater public awareness and decrease the burden of compliance with public records laws by state agencies.

BEAR BAITING-LAWSUIT

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Three conservation groups say hunting black bears in national forests in Idaho and Wyoming using bait should be banned because hunters have killed federally protected grizzly bears attracted to the food.

Western Watersheds Project, WildEarth Guardians and Wilderness Watch filed the lawsuit Wednesday in U.S. District Court challenging the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The groups say the federal agencies are violating environmental laws by allowing the practice that the groups say has resulted in the deaths of at least eight grizzly bears since 1995.

The groups also say the bait stations habituate grizzlies to human food.

The U.S. Department of Justice, which defends federal agencies in lawsuits, didn't immediately respond to an inquiry from The Associated Press on Thursday.

GUN LAWS-WYOMING

GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) — An interim legislative committee is reviewing national instant background checks on people wanting to buy firearms in Wyoming.

The Gillette News Record reports that the topic was one of the first issues taken up by the Legislature's Joint Judiciary Interim Committee this week in Gillette.

Nephi Cole of the National Shooting Sports Foundation told the panel that Wyoming is one of only three states that don't provide any mental health information for background checks. The foundation represents gun manufacturers, dealers and businesses and supports reporting all of the gun background check information to meet federal law.

The committee instructed the Legislative Service Office to draft an updated version of a bill that was introduced in 2014 but didn't pass the Legislature and bring it back to the committee for discussion.

UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — Outgoing University of Wyoming President Laurie Nichols says she's come to grips with her forced departure and her new job as interim president at a South Dakota university will be a great transition for her.

The UW Board of Trustees decided in March not to renew Nichols' contract, providing no specific reason for the decision.

Nichols tells the Laramie Boomerang she's "honestly quite OK" with what happened but she's not ready to step out of a leadership role.

Last week, it was announced that Nichols will become interim president of Black Hills State University on July 1, one day after her final day at Wyoming.

Once her job at Black Hills is done, Nichols says she will look at moving on to other opportunities in the Mountain West region.

GRIZZLY BEAR-WYOMING TOWN

CODY, Wyo. (AP) — A grizzly bear left tracks near a Wyoming town where officials say the species is rarely observed.

The Cody Enterprise reports a bear expert for the state Game and Fish Department was called to investigate the animal tracks found east of Cody last week.

Bear expert Dusty Lasseter says the paw prints were made by a young grizzly bear likely weighing 150-250 pounds (68-113 kilograms).

Lasseter says the bears have been entering new areas or sites where they have not been seen in years as the human population grows in the state.

Officials are not sure where the young grizzly went after visiting the Cody area.

WYOMING-INDIAN AFFAIRS MONEY-SETTLED

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming tribal leaders have reached an agreement with federal officials over problems raised in a report highlighting millions of dollars in misspent funds.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports that the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes' Wind River Inter-Tribal Council announced Tuesday they agreed to several fixes recommended by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

The interior department's inspector general found last year that poor Bureau of Indian Affairs oversight permitted the tribes to misspend $6.2 million in transportation funds.

A May 31 letter from the bureau says the inter-tribal council agreed to six of seven recommendations in the draft report.

Officials say the agreement includes a payment of more than $7,400 payment to the federal government.

Officials are negotiating the remaining recommendation to require tribes to have administrative fees.

SheridanWyoming.com

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