A NATRONA COUNTY RESIDENT WILL FACE TRIAL ON CHARGES HE FORGED CHECKS FOR NEARLY $20,000 FROM HIS ELDERLY MOTHER-IN-LAW WHILE HER HUSBAND WAS DYING.

ROY DAVIS WAIVED HIS PRELIMINARY HEARING BEFORE NATRONA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE BRIAN CHRISTENSEN ON THURSDAY, AND HE WILL HAVE HIS ARRAIGNMENT IN DISTRICT COURT PROBABLY IN A FEW WEEKS.

THE 46-YEAR-OLD DAVIS IS CHARGED WITH FELONY COUNTS OF EXPLOITATION OF A VULNERABLE ADULT, RECEIVING STOLEN PROPERTY, AND 35 COUNTS OF FORGERY.

HE REMAINS IN CUSTODY ON A $50,000 BOND.

COURT RECORDS SAY A NATRONA COUNTY SHERIFF'S INVESTIGATOR BEGAN LOOKING AT THE CASE TWO WEEKS AGO WHEN A SON OF THE ALLEGED VICTIM SAID HE RECENTLY ASSUMED POWER OF ATTORNEY RESPONSIBILITIES FOR HIS ELDERLY MOTHER.

WHILE REVIEWING HER FINANCES, HE FOUND 35 CHECKS TOTALING ABOUT $19,900 THAT APPARENTLY WERE SIGNED BY SOMEONE BESIDES HIS MOTHER.

THE CHECKS WERE ENDORSED TO DAVIS OR HIS WIFE, WHO IS THE VICTIM'S YOUNGEST DAUGHTER.

THE VICTIM TOLD THE INVESTIGATOR SHE DID NOT SIGN ANY OF THE 35 CHECKS IN QUESTION, NOR DID SHE AUTHORIZE DAVIS TO WRITE ANY OF THE CHECKS.

IN A SUBSEQUENT INTERVIEW, DAVIS TOLD THE INVESTIGATOR THAT HE AND HIS WIFE HAD ACCRUED A LARGE AMOUNT OF DEBT WHEN THEY MARRIED, THAT HE WAS UNEMPLOYED, AND HAD A GAMBLING PROBLEM.

HE TOOK HIS MOTHER-IN-LAW'S CHECKBOOKS FROM HER NIGHTSTAND AND FORGED HER SIGNATURE TO WRITE CHECKS TO HIMSELF.

THE INVESTIGATION CONTINUES.
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A FEDERAL JUDGE HAS ORDERED U.S. WILDLIFE OFFICIALS TO RECONSIDER A 2015 DECISION THAT BLOCKED ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT PROTECTIONS FOR ICONIC BISON HERDS IN YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK.
U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE CHRISTOPHER COOPER SAID IN A RULING LATE WEDNESDAY, THAT THE U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE FAILED TO CONSIDER A SCIENTIFIC STUDY SUGGESTING THE PARK'S BISON POPULATION MIGHT BE TOO SMALL TO SUSTAIN ITS TWO HERDS.

YELLOWSTONE'S 5,000 BISON MAKE UP THE LARGEST REMAINING WILD POPULATION OF A SPECIES THAT ONCE NUMBERED IN THE TENS OF MILLIONS.

THE ANIMALS, ALSO CALLED BUFFALO, ARE ROUTINELY SLAUGHTERED BY STATE AND FEDERAL AGENCIES DURING THEIR WINTER MIGRATIONS OUTSIDE THE PARK.

WILDLIFE ADVOCATES FROM THE BUFFALO FIELD CAMPAIGN AND OTHER GROUPS SOUGHT PROTECTIONS FOR THE HERDS IN 2014, THEN SUED WHEN THEIR PETITION TO THE GOVERNMENT WAS DENIED.
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GOVERNMENT BIOLOGISTS SAY ELK NUMBERS IN THE NORTHERN PART OF YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK ARE AT THEIR HIGHEST LEVEL IN MORE THAN A DECADE.

RESULTS OF A TWO-DAY WINTER SURVEY RELEASED WEDNESDAY SHOWED MORE THAN 7,500 ELK IN YELLOWSTONE AND AREAS OF MONTANA NORTH OF THE PARK.

THAT'S UP MORE THAN 40 PERCENT COMPARED TO 2017 AND MARKS THE HIGHEST POPULATION LEVEL SINCE 2005.

MONTANA FISH, WILDLIFE AND PARKS BIOLOGIST KAREN LOVELESS SAYS GOOD WEATHER DURING THE AERIAL SURVEY CONTRIBUTED TO THIS YEAR'S HIGH NUMBER. BUT SHE SAYS TRENDS OVER THE PAST SEVERAL YEARS CONFIRM THE POPULATION IS INCREASING.

THE NORTHERN YELLOWSTONE HERD IS POPULAR AMONG HUNTERS AND TOURISTS. IT SUFFERED A PROTRACTED DECLINE BEGINNING IN THE MID-1990S, DROPPING BELOW 4,000 ANIMALS BY 2013 DUE TO HUNTING, PREDATION BY WOLVES AND OTHER FACTORS.
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MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, WYO. (AP) - YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK HAS BEGUN OFFERING DIGITAL ANNUAL AND SEVEN-DAY VISITOR PASSES.

INTERESTED VISITORS CAN NOW PURCHASE THE PASSES ONLINE THROUGH YOURPASSNOW.COM AT NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE.

THE PASSES WILL BE EMAILED TO CUSTOMERS AND CAN BE STORED ON AN ELECTRONIC DEVICE OR PRINTED.

ANNUAL PASSES ARE $60, THE SEVEN-DAY PRIVATE VEHICLE PASS IS $30, THE SEVEN-DAY MOTORCYCLE OR SNOWMOBILE PASS IS $25 AND THE SEVEN-DAY PASS FOR PEOPLE COMING ON FOOT, SKI OR BIKE IS $15.

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CASPER, WYO. (AP) - WYOMING'S ECONOMY HAS BEGUN THE NEW YEAR WITH SOME MODEST IMPROVEMENTS, LARGELY DUE TO GAINS IN THE STATE'S FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRIES OVER THE SECOND HALF OF 2017.

A TWO-YEAR SLUMP IN PRICES THAT DROVE COMPANIES TO BANKRUPTCY AND LAYOFFS HAS NOW PARTIALLY GIVEN WAY TO INCREASED OIL DRILLING INTEREST AND COMPANY SPENDING.

THE CASPER STAR-TRIBUNE REPORTS THAT MANY OF THE GAINS ARE THE RESULT OF IMPROVEMENTS IN THE PRICE OF CRUDE, WHICH JUMPED UP IN JANUARY AFTER SIX MONTHS OF STABLE, IF MINOR, ADVANCES.

STATE ECONOMISTS SAY THE NUMBER OF APPLICATIONS TO DRILL FOR OIL IN WYOMING WERE 28 PERCENT HIGHER IN THE SECOND HALF OF 2017, COMPARED TO THE PREVIOUS YEAR. COMPANY INTEREST IN DRILLING FOR GAS WAS UP NEARLY 68 PERCENT.