NEWS BRIEFS for Thursday, May 21, 2020 From Wyoming News Exchange newspapers

Woman injured by bison in Old Faithful area

POWELL (WNE) -– A Yellowstone National Park visitor was knocked to the ground and injured by a bison on Wednesday after she reportedly got too close the animal.

The incident occurred in the Old Faithful Upper Geyser Basin when the woman came within 25 yards of the bison, according to a news release from the National Park Service. The release, issued within hours of the incident, didn't specify exactly how close the woman came to the buffalo or otherwise describe the circumstances of the encounter.

The park's emergency medical providers immediately responded to the scene and assessed the woman, who "refused transport to a medical facility," the release said.

Yellowstone officials did not release the woman's name, age, place of residence or any other identifying information.

"The incident remains under investigation, and there is no additional information to share," said the release.

The year's first incident of a bison injuring a visitor came on just the third day of the 2020 summer season. After being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Yellowstone reopened on Monday in a limited capacity; only the East and South entrances to the park and the lower loop road are currently open to the public.

In the wake of Wednesday's incident, park officials reminded visitors of the requirement to stay 25 yards away from large animals, including bison, and at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves.

"When an animal is near a trail, boardwalk, parking lot, or in a developed area, give it space," the release said, adding, "If need be, turn around and go the other way to avoid interacting with a wild animal in close proximity."


Grizzly 399, four cubs in tow, spotted at Pilgrim Creek

JACKSON (WNE) — Steve Franklin’s lifetime bucket list included both being in Grand Teton National Park on opening day and witnessing the Yellowstone region’s most famous bear, grizzly 399, the day she emerged from her den.

The Glendale, Arizona, resident and wildlife photographer checked one of the boxes Monday, when he was in with the first wave of visitors after a seven-week coronavirus-prompted closure. A grizzly 399 sighting was likely not in the cards, an improbability he confirmed early in the day by chatting with a ranger who told him the matriarch 24-year-old sow had not yet been spotted this year. 

Then, just after 2:30 p.m., Franklin was driving to fetch a late lunch when he spotted something moving on the banks of a swollen Pilgrim Creek.

“We’re crossing the bridge getting ready to go back, and she happened to be right there,” Franklin said. “I got two of my wishes on one day! And she has four cubs? Give me a break.”

Grizzly 399, he recalled, was pacing about 100 yards off the road along the banks, trying to find a safe spot for her brood of youngsters to ford.

Scores of others soon watched in awe at a grizzly bear who has unknowingly made herself famous by dwelling in roadside areas of Grand Teton Park for the past 14 years. Four cubs is her largest known litter yet, and she’s rearing the youngsters at an age near the upper limit of a typical grizzly bear lifespan.


Cody School District decides against textbooks that include intelligent design

CODY (WNE) — The Cody School District’s committee evaluating textbooks recently dismissed a proposal to add textbooks comparing intelligent design and evolution to the middle school curriculum.

The committee, composed of school teachers, administration and parents, unanimously moved to dismiss the complaint by Cody resident Amy Law, who has taught classical education for the past five years and holds a pre-med degree.

The committee then recommended the purchase of high school and middle school books that had been delayed by the complaint.

The Cody School Board reviewed the decision at Tuesday’s board meeting and unanimously approved the recommendation of the committee to purchase the two textbooks.

Teachers said the issue with adding textbooks on intelligent design was it wasn’t in the curriculum.  However, they do make an effort to have students think critically about what they’re being taught, and teachers don’t discount the possibility of alternate ideas.

Cody High School science teacher Dean Olenik said science teachers lean on state science standards when deciding what to teach and which books to use. When they approach evolution, they teach it as a theory not fact. 

In science studies, a theory is determined by using the scientific process and thus includes a large degree of evidence.