WLSB discusses stockyardsWritten by Saige
Following the seizure of 98 horses from Star Valley on May 23, Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) Law Enforcement Administrator Jimmy Siler told board members during a July 12 WLSB meeting that all the animals have been sold.
“We ended up selling about 87 head,” said Siler, noting that the number accounted for losses when the mares were foaling.
Following the seizure of the nearly 100 head of horses, the animals were transported to the Cheyenne Stockyards. Many of the confiscated mares were pregnant and foaled during their stay at the stockyards while they awaited sale.
Of the situation, WLSB President Eric Barlow said, “This is certainly a difficult situation. As far as the handling of it by this agency to get where we are today, there has been some good work by our staff in coordination with other individuals.”
Siler also said the criminal case will go to trial and the expenses for maintaining the horses will be placed on restitution in court.
The future of James Ridge, former owner of the seized animals, isn’t all that hangs in the balance. The WLSB also is considering the future of the Cheyenne Stockyards.
In addition to reporting on the Star Valley horses, Siler also updated WLSB members on the status of the Cheyenne Stockyards, saying that a request for bids to update the facility resulted in a figure of $265,445, which would fund updating everything but the plumbing.
As an alternative to renovating the facility, the stockyards could be turned back to the railroad from which they are leased. In that case, all structures would have to be removed from the location at a cost of between $250,000 and $375,000, said Siler.
Currently, the facility is leased for $5,000 per year, with expenses running between $1,500 and $4,500 annually. The facility is leased to a private enterprise, which covers utilities and pays up to $1,000 in repairs, and allows the WLSB to use the facility.
Because the facility is a state building, Capital Construction does have the ability to help with some funding.
“I would like to propose that the board tables this issue. I would like to get with Capital Construction to see if they have some money available that they would willing to spend on the stockyards,” recommended Siler.
Siler explained further that the facility is frequently used, particularly for overnight rest for animals that are being shipped or in welfare cases, such as the Star Valley horse welfare incident in late May. Some counties also use the stockyards for the maintenance of animals.
“There are only three locations where international shipments are allowed to rest, and Cheyenne is one of them,” said Siler. “We use the stockyards a lot more now than we have in the past.”
Other options for housing animals are limited to county fairgrounds, depending on the time of year they are needed.
The board took no action on the stockyards, effectively allowing Siler to do more research and look into other options. The contracts that the board is in, both with the railroad and the private enterprise that runs the yards, are current.
The WLSB meeting concluded with the announcement from Barlow regarding the vacancy in the position of WLSB director.
“We continue to consider the director position and, at this time, there is no action,” said Barlow.
Additionally, he reminded the board and audience members of a listening session offered Aug. 17 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Wyoming State Fairgrounds. Some of the items on the agenda will include brucellosis, traceability and trichomoniasis. The board will also likely have a meeting associated with the listening session at the Wyoming State Fair.