Off the wire

Unmarked power line probed in Calif. copter crash
FRESNO, Calif. — Federal investigators scoured the site of a fatal helicopter crash in the Sierra Nevada mountains Wednesday, trying to determine whether it might have been caused by a lack of markings on a high-voltage power line spanning the river canyon.
Read complete story from the StarTribune.com.

Feds shut door on halibut charter boat business
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- Aspiring charter boat captains will have to find someone willing to sell them a permit before taking clients fishing for halibut from the central Gulf of Alaska to southeast Alaska as part of efforts to avoid overfishing.
Read complete story from the Associated Press.

S. Texas rancher sets aside 1300 acres for ocelot
RAYMONDVILLE, Texas — Few things would venture into the dense thorny scrub favored by the endangered ocelot. But with little of south Texas considered suitable habitat for the remaining 50 or fewer rare cats, the ocelots remain vulnerable.
Read complete story from Associated Press.

NOAA proposes habitat protection for sea turtles
GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Federal biologists have proposed the first open ocean habitat protections for the endangered leatherback sea turtle along the West Coast, an action that could affect future development of offshore renewable energy, aquaculture and desalination plants.
Read complete story from the Associated Press.

Rushford-Peterson basketball team bus scores trophy: 10-point buck
The Rushford-Peterson High School basketball team won the opening game of its holiday tournament, but it was the ride home that brought the boys together and delivered a trophy to the small school.
Read complete story from the StarTribune.com.

Giant tuna fetches $177,000 at Japan fish auction
TOKYO — A giant bluefin tuna fetched 16.3 million yen ($177,000) in an auction Tuesday at the world's largest wholesale fish market in Japan.
Read complete story from the Associated Press.

Black bear hunting more likely with Christie as governor
It should be an exciting year for New Jersey sportsmen as a new governor — a man who has pledged to support hunting more than his prior two predecessors — takes the helm. For starters, it's possible, even likely, that Chris Christie, a Republican, will allow a black bear hunting season this year.
Read complete story from NJ.com.

BLM sends Wyo. guidelines to protect sage grouse
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is directing its Wyoming offices to consider certain restrictions for oil and gas drilling, new wind turbines and other types of development in sage grouse habitat.
Read complete story from the Associated Press.

Raptor perches set to control squirrel invaders
The rampaging ground squirrel population in Contra Costa County is truly for the birds, according to agricultural officials.
Read complete story from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Boy calls dog who fought off cougar his 'guardian'
A boy from Boston Bar, B.C., whose golden retriever saved him from a charging cougar, says he wouldn't be alive if his dog hadn't stepped in.
Read complete story from CBC News.

Solar showdown in Calif. tortoises' desert home
LOS ANGELES — On a strip of California's Mojave Desert, two dozen rare tortoises could stand in the way of a sprawling solar-energy complex in a case that highlights mounting tensions between wilderness conservation and the nation's quest for cleaner power.
Read complete story from the Associated Press.

Decade offered mixed bag
The blue moon that ushered in 2010 held no celestial or mystic importance other than it only happens once every 19 years on New Year's Eve. Even so, there were more than enough bluesy woes that transpired in the last decade to reflect upon. Relief is what I felt when the clock struck midnight.
Read complete story from HometownAnnapolis.com.

Tree stand thieves confess after photo runs in Midland Daily News
Two 20-year-old Midland County men have owned up to the Nov. 17 theft of a state police detective's tree stand in Homer Township.

The confessions came into Michigan State Trooper James Willing at the Michigan State Police Bay City Post at about 1 p.m. on New Year's Day, shortly after the Midland Daily News published a story about the incident. The article included a photo of the two suspects caught on a camouflage camera.
Read complete story from ourMidland.com.

Fight against Asian carp threatens fragile Great Lakes unity
CHICAGO — Asian carp, the voracious, nonnative fish whose arrival near Lake Michigan is threatening to cause havoc in the Great Lakes, are now setting off strife on land as well.
Read complete story from The New York Times.

New England fishing struggles to attract the young
BOSTON — Joe Sava's legs have absorbed the ocean's pitch and roll from the deck of a fishing boat for four decades. At age 75, the Gloucester fisherman says just trying to stay upright at sea can wear him down.
Read complete story from the Associated Press.

Famous San Francisco sea lions leave in droves
SAN FRANCISCO — Two mysteries surround a huge herd of sea lions that were hanging out on a pier in San Francisco Bay: Why did so many show up, and why did so many leave at once?
Read complete story from the Associated Press.

Scientists find clue to killer of Tasmanian devils
WASHINGTON — Fierce as they are, Tasmanian devils can't beat a contagious cancer that threatens to wipe them out. Now scientists think they've found the disease's origin, a step in the race to save Australia's snarling marsupial.
Read complete story from the Associated Press.