Wyoming lawmakers consider declaring jackalope state's official mythical creature

2013-01-12T12:00:00Z 2013-02-14T12:15:06Z Wyoming lawmakers consider declaring jackalope state's official mythical creatureBy LAURA HANCOCK Star-Tribune staff writer Casper Star-Tribune Online

Jackalopes, mythical creatures of the American West, are reportedly so friendly they even let humans ride them.

Dave Edwards was a Wyoming statesman with a larger-than-life personality, sense of humor and reputation.

Now a bill honors both.

House Bill 149 is the resurrection of a bill that Edwards sponsored in 2005 when he represented District 6 in the Wyoming House of Representatives.

The bill would declare the jackalope the official mythical creature of Wyoming. If passed, the law would be called the David Richard Edwards Memorial Act.

Edwards -- who also served as a Douglas city councilman and Converse County commissioner -- died Saturday at age 75 after suffering the effects of a stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.

On Friday, when his loved ones buried him in Douglas, members of the Wyoming Legislature in Cheyenne -- many of whom had served with him -- put forth the bill.

Legislators from both parties sponsored the bill: Reps. Dan Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne; Kermit Brown, R-Laramie; Rita Campbell, R-Shoshoni; Richard Cannady, R-Glenrock; Kathy Davison, R-Kemmerer; Keith Gingery, R-Jackson; Patrick Goggles, D-Ethete; Elaine Harvey, R-Lovell; Mat Teeters, R-Lingle; Mary Throne, D-Cheyenne; David Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, and Sen. Michael Von Flatern, R-Gillette.

Dan Zwonitzer recalled Edwards feeling crushed when his beloved jackalope bill didn’t pass in 2005.

“It passed out of the House 45 to 12,” he said. “The Senate never got to it on time. So it died.”

The bill received some criticism that it was a waste of the Legislature’s time, and Edwards never reintroduced it, even though he served for seven years through 2008.

Dan Zwonitzer believes the bill will have a different outcome this year.

“We can take 10 minutes of the floor and 10 minutes of the committee to remember one of our colleagues,” he said. “I think it will go through with no problems.”

Dan Zwonitzer remembers Edwards’ desk on the House floor in 2005.

“He was really, really excited about it,” he said. “He brought down about 10 jackalopes.

“They were on mounts and on wall plaques.”

Tiffany Edwards Hunt, Edwards’ daughter, called the tribute “sweet.”

“It’s a very, very kind gesture, and I’m sure he would be getting a great kick out of that,” she said. “He loves this state more than anything.”

The jackalope, “despite its name, appears as a jackrabbit with deer antlers throughout Wyoming at gift shops, sporting events, social clubs, watering holes and on post cards,” the bill states.

A part of Edwards Hunt wants to believe they’re real.

“I’m sure if you really look hard enough, you’ll find them throughout the state,” she said. “You’ve always got to believe. If you don’t believe, you’ll never get to see them.”

Jackalopes come out at dusk. People can draw them near with carrots with peanut butter, she said.

“Some girls like ponies,” she said. “In Wyoming, they like jackalopes. They’re pretty much the size of a pony. A saddle wouldn’t fit them so you have to be really crafty about riding them.”

More seriously, Edwards Hunt described how her father came to embrace the jackalope when the family moved to Douglas after he retired from the Navy in 1993. Edwards bought the historical LaBonte Hotel, at which a large jackalope was displayed. Another large jackalope can be found at a city park.

“That’s when he started to encourage the city to embrace the jackalope,” she said.

More jackalopes began popping -- or hopping -- up around town. These days, the city has Jackalope Days each June.

“It’s used for marketing and promotion,” Edwards Hunt said. “It’s brilliant. The state would be wise to adopt the same thing.”

After Edwards Hunt met her husband, she brought him to home to meet her dad. It was his first trip to Wyoming.

“My dad told him the story of the jackalope, and he had him fully convinced the jackalope is real,” she said. “Then my father took him out to meet a guy who lives in Douglas and has dinosaur bones and allows people to do digs. My husband got really into that. Fast forward a few days later, my husband started to think of the unlikelihood that a jackalope exists in the world, and realized he had been taken. He was convinced everything my father showed him was a farce, including the dinosaur bones.”

Reach state reporter Laura Hancock at 307-266-0581 or at laura.hancock@trib.com. Follow her on Twitter: @laurahancock.

Copyright 2015 Casper Star-Tribune Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(8) Comments

  1. Cody Coyote
    Report Abuse
    Cody Coyote - January 14, 2013 1:55 pm
    Redundant legislation. Wyoming already has an official state mythical creature.

    The Cowboy.
  2. Nbuck
    Report Abuse
    Nbuck - January 14, 2013 5:08 am
    Please run a spell check on the headline.
    Report Abuse
    STILL KING OF THE HILL - January 13, 2013 12:26 pm
    Our lawmakers must be bored. In the face of Obama's rein of anti-American terrorism, I want Wyoming lawmakers to engage themsevles in creating laws that will impede, derail, exhuast and tie-up federal government in courts for years to come until Obama and his minions of evil are routed entirely out office.
  4. Panhead
    Report Abuse
    Panhead - January 13, 2013 7:42 am
    It's a good thing that our reps are going to get us a state gun so we can fight off those pesky state mythical creatures the Jackalope. Don't you people have better things to waste our money on, WTF.
  5. carlover
    Report Abuse
    carlover - January 13, 2013 7:34 am
    i say we should make wyomings creature BIG BIRD, after all i think it represents a good amount of our legislators and elected officials. yellow all over and silly.
  6. Sassy
    Report Abuse
    Sassy - January 13, 2013 7:11 am
    This is a feel good piece of paper..cuz Edwards was such a pleasant person ( NOT) No disrespect to the family- IMO Rep Edwards was very cranky to the point of mean
  7. sober21
    Report Abuse
    sober21 - January 12, 2013 9:19 pm
    The people that voted out Ed Opella would like to nominate him for Wyoming's Official Mythical Creature as he is a real "Snake in the Grass"
  8. Don4321
    Report Abuse
    Don4321 - January 12, 2013 2:24 pm
    You should call them and endangered species that way the federal EPA will give you grants to study their habitat.
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