Tri-State News: Meth Dispute Results in Death; Counting Manatees

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MOBILE, Ala. (AP) -- The sheriff of Mobile County says an argument over cooking meth caused an Alabama man to shoot and kill his friend. Police say 27-year-old Bryan Gibson has been arrested and jailed on murder charges. He's accused of killing 38-year-old Michael Blue Watson, whose body was found earlier this month by a man looking for scrap metal in the woods.

MELBOURNE, Fla. (AP) -- A warm winter has forced Florida wildlife officials to cancel their annual manatee census.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologist Holly Edwards says cold weather makes it easier to spot the large sea mammals. Manatees seeking warm water will gather at power plants and natural springs.
Edwards tells Florida Today ( ) that since the winter has been warm, manatees have stayed too spread out to count.
It's the second consecutive winter that the state has scrubbed its annual manatee survey. The counts began in 1991. They're required by state law, except when weather conditions are prohibitive.
Wildlife officials counted a record 5,077 in 2010. Edwards says the number of manatee deaths from cold stress are down, but the animals are still vulnerable to red tide poisoning and boat strikes.

MIAMI (AP) -- It's Save the Florida Panther Day.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott issued a proclamation last week that marked Saturday as a day to pause and reflect on the plight of the Florida panther and the task of preserving them as a rare component of Florida's diverse natural resources.
The Florida panther once ranged across the southeastern United States, but is now found primarily in South Florida. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says between 100 and 160 adult panthers remain in the wild, south of the Caloosahatchee River and Lake Okeechobee.
Wildlife officials have documented that the population has risen in the past two decades, largely as a result of focused conservation efforts.
Panther research, management and protection efforts are funded through the sale of Florida panther specialty license plates.

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP) -- South Florida police say two people have been hospitalized after their hot air balloon crashed into power lines.
Miami-Dade Police spokesman Roy Rutland says the basket carrying the hot air balloon passengers crashed into the Homestead power lines while airborne Saturday morning.
Rutland says two passengers were injured and transported to a trauma center. A third passenger in the basket was not injured.
No additional information was immediately available.

JONESBORO, Ga. (AP) -- A judge has denied bond for two men charged in a carjacking that left a metro Atlanta man severely beaten after he was robbed.
WSB-TV reports ( ) Frederick Anderson and David Stark were among five men accused by police of ambushing the 65-year-old man outside his Clayton County business. Police say the victim was taken to an ATM and forced to withdraw money before he was beaten so severely that he had to be hospitalized.
Anderson and Stark made their first appearance before a Clayton County judge Saturday. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for April 2.
The television station did not identify the man who was the victim in the attack.
Clayton County police say they're still trying to track down the other three men involved in the carjacking.

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) -- The family of a 19-year-old Georgia woman who suffered serious brain injuries after being struck by a hit-and-run driver say she's now starting to write her name and stand on her feet for short periods.
The Athens Banner-Herald reports ( ) Emily Bowman of Woodstock is recovering faster than doctors expected. Her father, Dale Bowman, says last week she used a marker to write her first name, though the "E" looked more like a "3."
Bowman's parents say therapists at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta are also helping her stand for up to 10 minutes at a time. She hasn't spoken and continues to be fed intravenously.
Bowman of Woodstock was walking beside an Athens road four weeks ago when she was struck by a pickup truck that fled the scene.