Racking up a pretty penny
U.S. BRIEFS | Wyoming residents to get jump on nonresidents in search for antlers and horns
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Residents of the Cowboy State will soon have a seven-day head start over nonresidents in the frantic race to collect antlers and horns shed on most Wyoming state or public lands west of the Continental Divide. Under a pair of new laws signed by the governor on March 2, nonresidents must also purchase a wildlife conservation stamp before hunting for big-game antlers dropped during winter months. Wyoming prohibits collecting antlers from January through April to protect elk and deer herds, but on opening day in May, hundreds of hunters, many from nearby states, line up at trailheads and search at a frenetic pace. Elk antlers used in Eastern medicine, dog chew toys, and high-end home decor fetched $5 a pound a decade ago but now earn $20 a pound, or about $175 for a medium-sized antler. Proponents say the changes will return order to the popular pastime, but the state’s chief game warden worries enforcement will tax the already over-burdened state wildlife agency. —Todd Vician
On Feb. 3, St. Mary’s College, a Catholic women’s college in Notre Dame, denied sophomore Claire Bettag’s request to organize a chapter of Turning Point USA because of the group’s position on transgenderism. The conservative group, which affirms there are two biological sexes, has faced opposition on college campuses before, but St. Mary’s refusal came as a surprise given the Catholic Church’s stance on sexuality. In an email to Bettag, school administrators said the “style and content of Turning Point USA’s messaging around LGBTQ+ issues do not align with the mission and values of Saint Mary’s.” Meanwhile, the university’s Sexuality and Gender Equity Club hosts events such as a National Coming Out Day celebration. —Bekah McCallum
The state Board of Public Utilities is seeking a third round of applicants for offshore wind farm projects despite criticism over a recent spate of whale deaths. The state awarded wind farm contracts in 2019 and 2021 as part of Gov. Phil Murphy’s clean energy initiative. But whale deaths along the East Coast are rising. At least 25 dead whales have washed ashore since December—six in areas near New Jersey and New York wind farms. Environmental group Clean Ocean Action blamed the deaths on ships doing preparatory work for the wind farms. Three federal agencies acknowledged ship strikes caused many whale deaths but said they had no clear connection to wind farms. The area is also a cargo shipping hub. —Elizabeth Russell
The King’s College, a Christian liberal arts school in New York City, is facing severe financial headwinds and the threat of closure. In an email to students and parents March 3, the school’s Executive Committee announced it had sufficient funding to complete the current semester but didn’t know about the future. “We can tell you there has been no decision made to close the College at this time. … If the worst-case scenario emerges, it would be prudent for students to have considered a Plan B for next fall.” The King’s College has fewer than 400 undergraduate students, and this would not be its first closure. Evangelist Percy Crawford founded the school in New Jersey in 1938, and it closed in 1994. It reopened in 1999 in Manhattan. Many colleges, particularly private institutions that charge higher tuition, are likely to struggle in the years ahead. Undergraduate enrollments have decreased nationally for years but have dropped sharply since the pandemic. —Emma Freire
About 40 landowners from the town of Lac du Flambeau filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court on Feb. 28, asking the judge to reopen four roads blocked by the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. The tribe barricaded the roads on Jan. 31 after 10 years of failed negotiations with title companies and the town over expired right-of-way easements on tribal land. Most property owners didn’t know about the dispute until blockades appeared, limiting access to medical care and deliveries. Landowners want the roads declared public and opened, or a ruling saying they have a right to access by necessity. The tribe wants $20 million and has offered 25-year leases, but title companies have demanded permanent easements. In similar cases, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled local remedies, including tribal courts, must be exhausted before taking cases to federal courts. —Sharon Dierberger
The U.S. Air Force on Feb. 27 relieved two commanders of their positions at a key nuclear base. Four other subordinate leaders also lost their jobs. Maj. Gen. Andrew J. Gebara of 8th Air Force cited a loss of confidence in their ability to complete assigned duties. Gebara said the Minot Air Force Base unit is entrusted with a national nuclear mission that is foundational to U.S. defense: “We remain committed to the success of that no-fail mission.” The nuclear ranks have faced added scrutiny due to controversies like a 2007 mishap involving a B-52 Stratofortress that took off from Minot mistakenly loaded with six nuclear-armed AGM-129 cruise missiles. It flew across the country to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. A nuclear safety inspections cheating scandal rocked a Montana base in 2014, and in 2016, investigators uncovered a drug ring at a Wyoming base that houses intercontinental ballistic missiles. —Kim Henderson