Hunting In Wheelchairs

In this Nov. 16, 2018, file photo, Duane Townsend, left, shoots a pheasant at Special Friday Pheasant Hunts in Porterville, Calif. A Utah man who has been in a wheelchair for more than three decades has created a pheasant hunt called "Wheelchairs in the Wild" for people like him who need help getting into the outdoors.

UTAH

Hunting event organized for wheelchair users

PROVO — A Utah man who has been in a wheelchair for more than three decades has created a pheasant hunt for people like him who need help getting into the outdoors.

Clint Robinson broke his neck after being thrown off a horse at a rodeo 32 years ago. He's done his best to keep getting into the outdoors to hunt and fish, the Daily Herald in Provo reports.

The event he calls "Wheelchairs in the Wild" pairs people that have physical disabilities with hunters who help them with whatever they need. Many go in off-road vehicles.

The youngest hunter at last year's event was 13-year-old Missy Cowley who has spina bifida. Her father loves to hunt but didn't know how accommodate her wheelchair. Her mother, Cindy Cowley, said it was amazing to find a program that allowed her daughter to go hunting.

Missy Cowley said it was a great experience that also allowed her to meet other people who use wheelchairs.

Division of Wildlife Resources law enforcement officer Jerry Schlappi, who helped with the event, said Robinson is a perfect role model showing other wheelchair users with disabilities that they don't have to give up what they love.

MONTANA

Sage grouse numbers stumble across West

BILLINGS — Montana's greater sage grouse population has fallen more than 40% over the past three years, mirroring recent declines across the West for the wide-ranging bird species that federal officials rejected for protections in 2015.

State wildlife officials estimate there were about 44,000 ground-dwelling sage grouse in Montana this spring.

Sage grouse once numbered in the millions but have seen their range that stretches across portions of 11 states diminished by oil and gas drilling, wildfires, grazing and other pressures.

Grouse numbers also continued to drop in 2019 in Oregon, Idaho , Nevada and Wyoming. Weather can affect populations from year to year, and wildlife officials say those short-term cycles are most directly responsible for the recent declines.

Montana's drop from almost 78,000 grouse in 2016 was traced to an extreme drought in eastern parts of the state in 2017 that had prolonged impacts, said a spokeswoman with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

The decline coincides with increased efforts to conserve grouse habitat, including by working with private landowners to adopt grazing and other practices that are more beneficial to the bird.

IDAHO

Former gubernatorial candidate investigated in 1984 Colorado killing

BOISE — A former candidate for Idaho governor says he's under investigation in connection with the 1984 killing of a 12-year-old Colorado girl.

Steve Pankey, who ran as a Constitution Party candidate for governor in 2014 and again as a Republican in the 2018 primary, told the Idaho Statesman that he's under investigation in the death of Jonelle Matthews of Greeley.

Pankey said he reached out to the newspaper because he is a public figure, and he wants his story to be heard in case he is arrested. He said he's concerned that police mistrust him.

Matthews was reported missing on Dec. 20, 1984, after returning home from performing a Christmas concert with her classmates. Her body wasn't found until earlier this year, when construction workers excavating for a pipeline in a rural part of Colorado’s Weld County uncovered her remains.

Pankey and his former wife lived about 2 miles from her home when Matthews disappeared in 1984. He said he had never met the girl or her family.

In a prepared statement released Sept. 13, the Greeley Police Department said although Pankey had made repeated efforts to talk to detectives throughout the investigation, he refused to talk to detectives when they visited him this year in Idaho.

The Greeley Police Department worked with law enforcement in Twin Falls to search Pankey's Twin Falls home on Sept. 4. The Greeley Police Department says he remains a person of interest in the case.

NEW MEXICO

State moving to crack down on unpaid wage claims

ALBUQUERQUE — A popular New Mexico restaurant was the first business to be targeted in a state and local push to enforce wage laws.

Officials said they were suing Hacienda Del Rio and its owners over allegations that the Albuquerque eatery violated state law and city ordinances.

The case was prompted by dozens of complaints over the past two years. Officials accused the business of failing to pay for overtime worked, taking unlawful payroll deductions and giving workers bad checks.

Low-wage workers are often those most affected by illegal pay practices because they are working paycheck to paycheck, state labor secretary Bill McCamley said.

McCamley said his agency has been working to educate employers about wage laws, but some businesses have neglected to settle claims or respond to investigative inquiries related to underpayment or nonpayment of wages.

Hacienda del Rio representatives did not immediately return a message left at the corporate office.

The lawsuit was filed by the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, District Attorney Raul Torrez and the city of Albuquerque. It's asking for damages as well as an order to keep the defendants from engaging in illegal pay practices.

GOP House candidate under fire for old anti-Trump posts

ALBUQUERQUE — A Republican U.S. House candidate running for an important seat in southern New Mexico is facing criticism for old social media posts attacking Donald Trump, including one where she wrote the wealthy real estate mogul was "unworthy of the office" of the president.

In 2015 and 2016, Claire Chase wrote several Facebook posts denouncing Trump as he sought the GOP nomination for president before publicly supporting him in the general election. Chase used a vulgar term to describe Trump in one post and wrote in another that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's endorsement of Trump made her "throw up in my mouth."

Chase campaign spokesman Craig Murphy said Chase wrote the posts before Trump won the GOP nomination and was open about her support for another candidate.

However, Murphy said Chase voted for Trump in the general election and has been very pleased with his actions as president.

Still, her two Republican opponents, former state lawmaker Yvette Herrell and Las Cruces businessman Chris Mathys, say the old posts show she still didn't like the president.

The flap comes days after Chase announced her intention to seek the GOP nomination for a traditionally Republican seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-Las Cruces.

WYOMING

Paul says he won't back Cheney if she runs for Senate

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul says he won't back GOP U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney and her support for "endless wars" if she decides to run for the Senate from Wyoming.

Paul confirmed on CNN Sept. 15 that he's supporting Republican Cynthia Lummis, a former House member.

Cheney, meanwhile, doubled down on her contention that Paul's push to downscale U.S. military actions "blames America first" and ends up supporting terrorists. She spoke on NBC.

It was the latest round of rhetorical warfare between the pair, each a scion of a Republican political family. Paul and Cheney have been feuding on Twitter over who supports Trump more.

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