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Published: Friday, February 09, 2018 @ 8:52 PM
Updated: Friday, February 09, 2018 @ 8:52 PM
PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon environmental officials on Friday increased protections for the marbled murrelet, a rare diving seabird known as the "enigma of the Pacific" because it lives and hunts in the ocean but nests far inland in the high canopy of mossy, old-growth forests.
The 4-2 vote by the Oregon Commission on Fish and Wildlife to boost the relative of the puffin from threatened to endangered status under state law was the latest development in a long-running debate about how to manage a secretive species that breeds in dense Pacific rainforests that are also prime logging grounds.
State environmental officials must now draft guidelines for ways to maintain bird population numbers, including possibly limiting logging in nesting areas owned, managed or leased by the state.
Logging interests reacted with dismay, calling the move premature and a further blow to their industry. Timber harvests, once a powerful economic engine in the rural Pacific Northwest, have declined dramatically since the 1990s because of protections for the marbled murrelet and the spotted owl.
The murrelet lives along the Pacific Coast from Alaska's Aleutian Islands to central California and was listed as threatened under federal law in Oregon, Washington and California in 1992. It is considered endangered by Washington state and California and is protected in Canada.
It was listed as threatened in Oregon in 1995. It is not protected in Alaska.
In 2015, there were believed to be about 11,000 marbled murrelets in Oregon, but survey numbers are uncertain because the birds have only been counted at sea and are extremely elusive in the forest, said Christina Donehower, strategy species coordinator for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Their short wings, perfect for diving, mean they must fly up to 40 mph (64 kph) to stay airborne, she said.
State and federal protections for the marbled murrelet have meant less logging in the Northwest, but environmentalists say timber harvests on state lands have nonetheless damaged prime nesting habitat in Oregon. The unusual brown-and-white flecked seabird forages in the ocean but flies up to 55 miles (89 kilometers) inland to breed, laying a single egg in a mossy depression high in the forest canopy.
The species uses trees that are more than 80 years old as nest sites and has a 36 percent nest success rate in Oregon, Donehower said.
Nearly 80,000 acres (32,000 hectares) of this prime nesting habitat was lost in Oregon between 1993 and 2012 — about 9 percent, said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director for the Center for Biological Diversity. Twenty-one percent of that lost forest was on state or private land.
One demographic model showed there is an 80 percent likelihood the marbled murrelet will be extinct in Oregon by the year 2100, Donehower said in a presentation to the commission before the vote.
A coalition of environmental groups petitioned the commission two years ago to revisit the bird's protected status after growing concerned about population numbers.
Jim Geisinger, executive vice president of Associated Oregon Loggers, called the debate premature and said not enough is known about the species to determine whether it's truly in jeopardy.
A major study of the marbled murrelet is currently underway at Oregon State University that could tell biologists more, he said.
"Most of the focus has been on the forest habitat where it nests. As more research is done, we believe the bigger issue is in the ocean where it feeds," he said.
Rising water temperatures, low oxygen and ocean dead zones could be harming the species as much as deforestation, Geisinger said.
"These birds spend 80 percent of their time in the ocean," he said.
Published: Saturday, February 17, 2018 @ 6:00 PM
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A 14-year-old Charlotte girl who disappeared five months ago was found in Georgia this week.
Nakia Williams was last seen Sept. 7, 2017, after leaving her home on Wiegon Lane, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg police.
Georgia law enforcement officials were able to confirm Wednesday that she was seen in Emanuel County, Georgia, and that she was possibly staying in Toombs County, Georgia, a neighboring county.
“And I thought I heard something wrong, and I was like, 'What did you say?' And she repeated, 'We found her,'” Shrounda Alston, Nakia’s cousin, said.
Nakia’s mother told Channel 9 that she was found that same day in Lyons, Georgia, which is more than 250 miles away from Charlotte.
“I was just able to wrap my arms around her, and just, we just cried for about five minutes,” Cherise Williams-Stowe, Nakia’s mother, told Channel 9. “We were just so happy to see each other.”
The family received the tip they have been praying for for months.
Family and friends did everything they to find Nakia, including handing out flyers and posting on a Facebook page called “Our missing hearts.”
Williams-Stowe told Channel 9 she still doesn't know the whole story of why Nakia disappeared and what happened in the past five months.
“She said she learned a lot while she was out,” Williams-Stowe said. “She learned it was hard trying to be out there on your own and everybody doesn't love you.”
Many of those questions are still being investigated, but Alston said the family can finally rest knowing Nakia is back home.
Published: Saturday, February 17, 2018 @ 1:03 PM
OMAHA, Neb. — A Nebraska man has been arrested for the 18th time for indecent exposure, authorities said.
The latest incident took place Thursday at an Omaha food court, KETV reported.
Witnesses told KETV that Shawn Noble, 39, was yelling obscenities when he emerged from the food court restroom completely naked. When the property manager ordered him back into the bathroom to put on his clothes, he lunged at her, witnesses said.
Food court employees were able to barricade Noble inside the restroom until police arrived, KETV reported. Noble was charged with indecent exposure and disorderly conduct and taken to the Douglas County Jail.
Published: Saturday, February 17, 2018 @ 3:47 PM
WELLINGTON, Fla. — A Florida woman was arrested on Thursday after deputies said she drove intoxicated with a child sitting above an open case of beer tucked in the back seat.
A Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputy pulled over Miami resident Stephanie Roque, 30, about 11 a.m. after she made a complete stop in her SUV in the center of a lane, the Palm Beach Post reported. The deputy said that Roque’s drivers license was suspended, and noticed she had a “strong smell of alcohol,” the arrest report states.
Roque told the deputy that she “just got out of rehab today for a drinking problem,” according to the report. The deputy found a child in the backseat of the car with an open 12-pack of beer sitting underneath the child’s feet, the Palm Beach Post reported. Only nine of the 12 beers were in the case, the report states.
Published: Saturday, February 17, 2018 @ 11:57 AM
FREDERICK, Md. — A Maryland woman says there was a live surprise in a package of fish she purchased at Costco last week.
Emily Rhoades Randolph said she purchased a package of fresh cod on Feb. 9 at Costco. On Monday, she recorded video of what appears to be a worm wriggling around a corner of the sealed package and posted it on her Facebook page on Wednesday. The sell-by date on the package is the same day she recorded the video, according to Randolph.
Randolph said in the Facebook post that when she returned the contaminated fish to Costco, the clerk at the seafood counter commented that another customer had returned salmon with worms in it. Randolph said she did not receive an apology for the incident.