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AM News Brief: Black Bears, Guilty Treasure Hunter & Potential Congressional Seats For Mountain West

Lynn Chamberlain, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
Utah wildlife officials are working to control the state’s black bear population in areas where mule deer are struggling. This story and more in the Wednesday morning news brief.

Wednesday morning, January 6, 2021


Utah Senate’s Majority Caucus Holds Special Election

Utah Governor Spencer Cox appointed Sen. Dan Hemmert, R-Orem as Director of the Governor's Office of Economics. Hemmert had served as Majority Whip in the Utah Senate. Tuesday, the majority caucus elected Sen. Ann Millner, R-Ogden to fill that seat. Sen. Kirk Cullimore, R-Sandy, will step into Millner’s former position as Assistant Majority Whip. — Bob Nelson

Managing Utah Black Bears

Utah wildlife officials are working to control the state’s black bear population in areas where mule deer are struggling. The Division of Wildlife Resources announced Tuesday they are making changes to the predator management plan for the bears, in compliance with a law passed during last year’s legislative session. The law requires DWR to take immediate action if black bears are preventing the deer population from growing. The state issued nearly 1,200 bear hunting permits in 2020, with 443 bears killed. The same number of permits will be available this year. — Ross Terrell

Northern Utah

No Date Set For Return To Classroom

Following a more than six-hour meeting Tuesday night, the Salt Lake City School Board voted to bring middle and high school students back to the classroom. But the plan does not yet have a specific date set and is contingent on when teachers and school staff can receive two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. That was originally expected to happen by early February, but the state’s vaccine rollout has been slower than expected. The district remains the only one in the state fully online and has faced pressure from parents and state officials to reopen schools. Read the full story. — Jon Reed

Southern Utah

Dixie State Suspends Women’s Basketball

Dixie State University Athletics has ended the women's basketball season, along with all of the team’s competition events. Officials at the St. George school said the decision was made with the overall health and wellness of the players and program in mind. In a statement Tuesday, Athletic Director Jason Boothe said it is 100% the right call. “Once we get through the pandemic and all the issues it causes for everyone involved, we look forward to having the team back in action next school year.” DSU is located in Washington County, which had a nearly 39% COVID-19 seven-day test positivity rate as of Dec. 30. — Bob Nelson


Utah Treasure Hunter Pleads Guilty

A Utah man has pleaded guilty after authorities said he was caught digging in a Yellowstone National Park cemetery in search of hidden treasure. Federal prosecutors said 52-year-old Rodrick Dow Craythorn of Syracuse, Utah, entered the plea Monday. Craythorn could face up to 12 years in prison and $270,000 in fines when sentenced. An attorney for Craythorn didn't immediately return a phone message Tuesday seeking comment. Craythorn was seeking a treasure chest hidden by art and antiquities dealer Forrest Fenn. Prosecutors said Craythorn caused more than $1,000 in damage by digging in Fort Yellowstone Cemetery in late 2019 and early 2020. A Michigan man found the treasure in June. — Associated Press

Mountain West Growth Could Mean New Congressional Seats

New Census estimates show the Mountain West is seeing a spike in population growth amid overall record lows for the nation. A Brookings Institution analysis found the growth in the region could mean Colorado and Montana will each gain an additional Congressional seat. These estimates are separate from the official 2020 Census numbers — set to be released in the coming weeks. — Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau

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