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Aug 2, 2013 - The Associated Press

Hail damages barley crop

POWELL -- Farmers around Powell say hail from a violent storm on Tuesday night damaged or destroyed barley and other crops.

The storm brought hail up to a half-inch in diameter, about a half inch of rain and 50 mph winds.

It hit just before the barley harvest when the grain is especially vulnerable. Terry Faxon said the dry seed heads waiting to be harvested can break easily under hail.

She and her husband lost about 30 percent of their barley crop north of Powell.

Bill Cox estimates that he lost between one-third and one-half of his 750 acres of barley about a week before he planned to harvest it.

The other crops damaged by the hail include sunflowers and beets.

Moose near Casper relocated

CASPER -- The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has relocated a bull moose that had wandered into a rural housing development near Casper.

Wildlife managers captured and moved the moose on Thursday due to concerns for public safety.

Officials say the moose was 2 years old and was hanging around close to several homes.

The moose was tranquilized and taken to the southern Big Horn Mountains where it was released.

Mine safety teams compete in Gillette

GILLETTE -- Nine teams from mining operations across the nation and the Powder River Basin are in Gillette to put their safety skills to the test.

The 33rd annual mine safety competition on Friday and Saturday is organized by the Powder River Basin Safety Association.

The event usually has 12 teams.

But Josh Tompkins, of the Powder River Basin Safety Association, says this year, some gold mines decided not to participate, likely because of low gold pricing that is affecting their operations.

Tompkins said the competition helps to prepare responders to deal with accidents.

Restrictions kick in to protect bats

DENVER -- The U.S. Forest Service is letting people visit caves in national forests and grasslands in the Rocky Mountain region again, but there are restrictions as officials work to halt a disease that has killed 5.5 million bats since 2006.

The agency issued a closure order in 2010 to keep white-nose syndrome from spreading.

So far, the disease and the fungus that causes it haven't been confirmed in the region, which covers Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas.

As of Thursday, people can visit the region's caves but have to register first. They must decontaminate clothing and gear before and after entering caves. Gear used in caves or mines in states affected by white-nose syndrome is prohibited.

Caves used for winter hibernation will close from roughly Oct. 15-April 15.

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