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Natrona County sends third-most students to UW, is home to third-most UW employees

Natrona County has the third-most students at the University of Wyoming’s Laramie campus of the state’s 23 counties and is home to the third-most employees of the school, according to data released Wednesday.

Five hundred and sixty Natrona County natives attend the main campus of the state’s sole four-year public school, according to UW data. One hundred and ninety non-student university employees live in the county. Another 90 students work for the university and also live here, also the third-highest total in the state.

Laramie and Albany counties top the list in all three categories. Laramie County has 1,108 students at the university’s main campus and has 242 UW employees living in the county, plus 213 student workers. Albany has 1,078 students at the university and has 3,762 non-student and 2,429 student residents working for UW.

There are also 118 Natrona County-native students attending UW-Casper.

Natrona, Laramie and Albany counties are home to three of the largest five school districts in the state. There are 327 UW students from Campbell County, site of the third-largest district in Wyoming.

The Natrona County-based student and non-student employees earn $332,340 and $8,096,867 in payroll, respectively, according to the university’s data.

Those numbers are slight changes from last year, when there were 546 Natrona County students attending the Laramie campus and 152 at UW-Casper. There were more nonstudent employees — 197 — earning a little more than $100,000.

Niobrara County had the lowest number of students at the Laramie campus, with 19. Next came Hot Springs with 37, Weston with 46 and Crook with 51.

Elsewhere in the data, Natrona County had:

  • 197 distance learners;
  • 3,179 high school students contacted by UW’s admissions office;
  • 86 women in the STEM conference;
  • 7,169 UW alumni.

Casper museums to host holiday events Saturday

In a slightly different take on traditional Santa Claus and gift shopping, four Casper museums have come together to plan a fun-filled family day on Saturday. Here is a brief description of what each museum plans.

Holiday on the Homestead at The National Historic Trails Interpretive Center, 1501 N. Poplar: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The celebration will feature an assortment of festive activities, as well as live demonstrations. This year’s theme is “Music and Memories,” and you can operate model railroad trains, see active demonstrations, enjoy yummy treats at the Prairie Sweet Shop, view gingerbread houses, watch a blacksmith operate and more. Don’t miss the first-ever appearance of Johnny Horizon, the BLM mascot, and take a selfie with him. The celebration is free and open to the public, however, visitors are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items to benefit the Wyoming Food for Thought Project.

Holidazzle Day at The Science Zone, 111 W. Midwest: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Celebrate the season and have fun while learning. The Science Zone will have extra activities and workshops, including homemade LED ornaments, melting snowmen, sleigh bell engineering, snowman luminaries and bobsled races. Don’t forget your picture with Santa from 10 a.m. to noon. All activities are free with regular admission except pictures with Santa, which will be $5.

Christmas Traditions at The Historic Bishop Home, 818 E. 2nd St.: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Santa will stop by for photo opportunities. On display this holiday season at the Historic Bishop Home are dolls throughout the years mingled with the toys of the 20th century. Enjoy a walk through your childhood and share it with your children and grandchildren. “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” and “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” will be read by local celebrities in the attic throughout the day. Hot chocolate, cookies and hot mulled cider will be served. Suggested donation is $5 per adult and $3 per child.

Annual holiday open house at The Tate Geological Museum, Casper College: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Come to the Tate’s Annual Holiday Open House for a fun shark tooth hunt, face painting, ornament workshop, and Make-and-Take Fossil Casts. Bring your rocks and fossils to the Fossil Rock Show and try to stump the geologist. Take a tour of the Rex Annex too. Everyone receives 10 percent off all purchases in the gift shop and members receive 20 percent off. You can also take a photo with everyone’s favorite holiday dinosaur, Santasaurus. Free admission, as always.

Jenna VonHofe, Star-Tribune  

Students walk to and from the University of Wyoming Union building during winter break in Laramie.

US to review ended protections for Yellowstone grizzly bears

U.S. officials said Wednesday they’ll review the recent lifting of protections for Yellowstone-area grizzly bears in light of a court ruling that retained protections for gray wolves in the Great Lakes.

About 700 bears in and around Yellowstone National Park lost their threatened species status on July 31, opening the door to future trophy hunts in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.

Just a day later, a federal appeals court in Washington D.C. said in the wolf case that wildlife officials needed to give more consideration to how a species’ loss of historical habitat affects its recovery.

Like wolves, grizzly bears have seen a strong recovery over the past several decades in isolated regions of the U.S., but remain absent from the vast majority of their historical range.

In its response to the appeals court ruling, the Fish and Wildlife Service said it’s now seeking public comment on the potential implications for Yellowstone bears.

The animals will stay under state jurisdiction and off the threatened species list while the review is pending, said Fish and Wildlife spokesman Steve Segin. The agency plans to release its conclusions by March 31.

Grizzlies remain protected as a threatened species outside of the Yellowstone region and Alaska.

Other species could be affected by the ruling, Segin said, adding that it likely would have to be under similar circumstances where a decision was being made on just a segment of a species’ entire population.

Andrea Santarsiere with the Center for Biological Diversity said Wednesday’s announcement was an attempt to paper over what she called “fatal flaws” in the decision to lift protections.

“Yellowstone’s grizzly bears remain at risk and no amount of bureaucratic jujitsu by the Trump administration will change that fact,” Santarsiere said.

The question in the Great Lakes wolf case was whether some members of an animal population can meet the legal definition of recovered even as the species struggles or is nonexistent elsewhere.

A three-judge panel concluded federal officials erroneously considered the status of the Great Lakes population in a vacuum, leaving wolves elsewhere in the country in “legal limbo” after wolves in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota lost protections. Those protections later were restored by a federal judge.

Yellowstone’s bears make up one of the largest populations of grizzlies in the Lower 48. They’ve been isolated for decades from other concentrations of bruins, including an estimated 1,000 grizzlies in northwest Montana.