YELLOWSTONE BISON HUNT TAKES MOST SINCE '89: BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Hunters killed more wild bison migrating from Yellowstone National Park this season than they have in decades, with the numbers driven by strong participation from American Indians who harvest the animals under longstanding treaty rights.
Roughly 250 bison have been killed since last fall after leaving Yellowstone for low-elevation winter range in Montana.
Combined with a mild winter, the means there's unlikely to be a repeat this year of the massive slaughters that have killed thousands of bison in the last two decades in the name of disease control.
Fewer bison leave the park when the weather is mild, and wildlife officials said the largest harvest since 1989 is relieving some of the pressures posed by a burgeoning population. The park had more than 4,200 animals at the season's start.
Still, hunting carries its own challenges, beyond criticism from animal rights advocates.
WEX-OKLA. TEACHER PLEADS GUILTY IN CHILD PORN CASE: SHAWNEE, Okla. (AP) — A former Oklahoma schoolteacher who pleaded no contest to child pornography and exploitation charges changed her plea to guilty Friday and agreed to accept a 45-year prison sentence.
Former third-grade teacher Kimberly Crain, 50, pleaded guilty midway through a sentencing hearing in which she could have been sentenced to life in prison on multiple counts of sexual exploitation of a child under 12 and possession of juvenile pornography, plus separate counts of conspiracy to commit sexual exploitation and lewd molestation.
Crain tearfully apologized to members of her family, friends and the parents and other family members of more than a dozen former students. She was accused of taking sexually explicit photos of young female students in her classroom in McLoud, 30 miles east of Oklahoma City, and sharing them with retired early childhood development professor Gary Doby of Bloomsburg, Pa., who pleaded guilty to child exploitation charges in January and was sentenced to life in prison.
FEDS, MISS. SCHOOL REACH DEAL OVER PUNISHMENT : JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department said Friday that it has reached a deal with a Mississippi school district to end discriminatory disciplinary practices in which black students face harsher punishment than whites for similar misbehavior.
The agreement comes after a lengthy federal investigation that found that black public school students in Meridian are five times more likely than whites to be suspended from classes and often got longer suspensions for comparable misbehavior.
Jocelyn Samuels, a deputy assistant attorney general, said during a news conference Friday that black students in the Meridian Public School District routinely receive more severe punishments than whites in most categories of misbehavior other than weapons and drugs violations. She commended the district for its cooperation with the Justice Department.
Officials: Miner dead, 1 rescued in Utah cave-in
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A miner died Friday after becoming trapped in a cave-in at a central Utah coal mine, authorities said.
The Emery County sheriff's office said rescuers had been working to free the miner after the cave-in was reported earlier in the day at a mine in Bear Canyon, about 10 miles west of Huntington, Utah.
Rescuers freed another miner from the cave-in and took that worker to Castleview Hospital in Price. Hospital staff said that miner had been released.
A rescue team recovered the body of the second trapped miner, the sheriff's office said in a statement. Officials said they will release the miner's name once family members have been notified.
Ala. airport sign falls on family, killing boy
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A sign at the Birmingham airport fell on a family Friday, killing a 10-year boy and injuring other family members.
Deputy Coroner Derrick Perryman said 10-year-old Luke Bresette was pronounced dead at Children's of Alabama. Two other children were being treated there, and the mother, Heather Bresette, was taken to University Hospital, where spokeswoman Nicole Wyatt said she was in critical condition. The coroner's office and the hospital did not disclose the family's hometown.
Firefighters estimated the arrival-departure sign weighed 300 to 400 pounds.
Albert Osorio, 46, of Birmingham told al.com that he was close by when the sign fell. He said a loud boom was followed by screams from the family and witnesses. Then he and five other passers-by lifted off the sign.
"The whole thing flipped down on those kids. It took all of us here to stand it up," he said.
Airport spokeswoman Toni Herrera-Bast said officials aren't sure how the sign fell. She said it happened about 1:30 p.m. Friday in a pre-security area of the airport. The airport continued operating while rescue workers tended to the family.
The airport completed the first phase of a more than $201 million modernization effort and opened newly renovated concourses last week.
NEW YORKERS BOLDLY FLOUT LAW TO KEEP PIGS: NEW YORK (AP) — In a city of high-rises and tiny apartments, pigs are found mainly on menus. Most New Yorkers would never consider making pets out of a barnyard animal that's synonymous with sloppiness.
The city's health code specifically forbids it, forcing pig owners in the nation's largest metropolis to keep their swine secret — or take the risk an unhappy neighbor might squeal.
"People think it's weird and a novelty, but they're really sweet and really smart animals," says Timm Chiusano, who keeps two potbellied pigs on the ground floor of his three-story brownstone in Brooklyn. "They can be fantastic pets."
Chiusano moved to his current home after raising his pets from piglets in a condo high-rise, where a neighbor once raised a stink about them piddling in the lobby.
Now his difficulties are largely logistical. Though billed as "mini pigs" when he got them five years ago, Cholula and Runtly now weigh in at 200 and 70 pounds, respectively.
He renovated his home with the pigs in mind, putting their beds and food on the first floor (their legs are too stubby to climb stairs) and installing special flooring that holds up to hooves. He's also constantly resodding his tiny backyard because the grass is essentially a salad bar for swine.