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YELLOWSTONE BISON SLAUGHTER

Yellowstone softens stance on bison slaughter targets

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) - Yellowstone National Park is backing off its proposal to kill roughly 1,000 wild bison this winter as officials seek to reduce the animals' annual migration into Montana.

Park officials met with representatives of American Indian tribes, the state and other federal agencies Thursday.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports the park proposed delaying trapping until Feb. 15 and eliminating a target number to be removed from the herd. But some tribal governments called for trapping to be delayed until late March.

The eventual plan will give guidelines to bison managers during the winter months as they try to bring the population down from 5,000 to 3,000. It must be finalized by Dec. 31 or the previous winter plan will be used.

Bison managers are now moving away from setting a numeric goal.

CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES

Lawmakers support voters decide on privacy amendment

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Lawmakers say they want voters to decide if privacy and open-government protections should be added to Wyoming's Constitution.

The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports that the Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Interim Committee voted Wednesday to support a bill that would put the proposed changes on the 2016 ballot.

If approved by both the Legislature and voters, the bill would make Wyoming one of the few states with privacy protections in their constitutions.

The bill will have to clear a two-thirds majority vote to be introduced during the legislative session.

Last session, the Wyoming Senate defeated a resolution that would have added an amendment to the state constitution guaranteeing an individual's right to privacy.

ALPHA NATURAL-WYOMING

Contempt concern scrubs hearing on Wyoming coal mine permit

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - A landowners' group has withdrawn its request for a hearing on a state permit for a Wyoming coal mine amid the possibility of being held in contempt of court.

The Powder River Basin Resource Council has concerns about Wyoming's plan to renew the permit for the Eagle Butte coal mine. The group says insufficient bond exists for reclamation in case the mine ever closed and needed to be totally reclaimed.

Mine owner Alpha Natural Resources has filed for bankruptcy. Attorneys for the company and Wyoming say in legal documents concerns about the permit needed to be raised in bankruptcy court. An attorney for Wyoming says doing otherwise could subject the resource council to civil contempt proceedings.

The resource council withdrew its request hours before the hearing was scheduled Thursday.

BANKERS SURVEY

Bankers predict weak economy in rural parts of 10 states

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Bankers continue to predict the economy will slow in the months ahead in rural parts of 10 Western and Plains states.

The economic index for the region slipped to 43.7 in November from last month's 44.4. The overall index is based on a monthly survey of rural bankers Creighton University conducts, and organizers say any score below 50 suggests that factor will decline.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says low crop and commodity prices and manufacturing slowdowns are all weighing down the economy.

The confidence index fell to a weak 38.9 in November from October's 42.1. The strong U.S. dollar is also hurting exports.

Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.

TRAFFIC STOPS-DRUG ARRESTS

Carbon County authorities make 5 drug arrests along I-80

RAWLINS, Wyo. (AP) - Five people are facing drug charges after two traffic stops by Carbon County authorities along Interstate 80.

The Rawlins Daily Times reports that 57-year-old Eddie Rios and 25-year-old Jaime Highhorse, both of Sacramento, California, are facing several felony drug charges, including conspiracy to deliver and possession with intent to deliver.

Rawlins police say they stopped Rios and Highhorse Saturday. Officers allegedly found methamphetamine, crack cocaine, heroin and marijuana during a search of their vehicle.

A Wyoming Highway Patrol officer also stopped three men from Lincoln, Nebraska on Saturday. An affidavit states that the trooper became suspicious of 25-year-old Eric Snygg, 24-year-old Caleb Buffington and 25-year-old Dakota Orthengren. A search of their vehicle allegedly uncovered 60 ounces of marijuana.

All three were charged with possession of a controlled substance.

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