NEWS PHOTO OF THE DAY

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NEWS PHOTO OF THE DAY: JAN. 15-21
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THURSDAY

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(U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via AP). This 2017 photo from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service motion-activated camera shows an osprey poses at the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia. Motion-detecting wildlife cameras are yielding serious sc...
(U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via AP). This 2017 photo from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service motion-activated camera shows an osprey poses at the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia.

Motion-activated cameras capture animals being wild, weird

Posted: Jan 17, 2018 12:53 AM MST
Updated: Jan 18, 2018 2:58 PM MST

By MEAD GRUVER
Associated Press

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - How does a bighorn sheep say "cheese?"

Some charismatic critters caught by motion-detecting wildlife cameras seem to know how to strike a pose. But it's not just show business. As these devices get ever smaller, cheaper and more reliable, scientists across the U.S. are using them to document elusive creatures like never before.
(U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via AP). This 2011 photo from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service motion-activated camera shows an elephant seal in the Channel Islands National Park off the coast of Southern California. Motion-detecting wildlife cameras d...
(U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via AP). This 2011 photo from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service motion-activated camera shows an elephant seal in the Channel Islands National Park off the coast of Southern California.

"There's no doubt - it is an incredible tool to acquire data on wildlife," said Grant Harris, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wildlife biologist based in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Remote cameras have photographed everything from small desert cats called ocelots to snow-loving lynx high in the Northern Rockies.

Harris cited images of javelinas, pig-like desert mammals, and coatimundi, members of the raccoon family, captured at higher latitudes in recent years. That could mean global warming is expanding their range northward, he said.

(U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via AP). In this 2017 photo from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service motion-activated camera, a vulture comes in for a landing at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Motion-detecting wildlife cameras are y...
(U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via AP). In this 2017 photo from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service motion-activated camera, a vulture comes in for a landing at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico.

Scientists deploying remote cameras in their work include researchers with the Wyoming Migration Initiative, who use global positioning to map the movements of elk, mule deer and antelope in and around Yellowstone National Park. They only have so many collars to track animals, meaning there's a limit to the GPS data they can gather, said Matthew Kauffman, a University of Wyoming associate professor and initiative director.

"You see one animal migrating, you don't know if it's migrating by itself, if it's migrating with a calf, or if it's migrating with 40 other animals," Kauffman said.

Remote cameras - which can be left in the backcountry for days, weeks or even months - help fill in blanks by showing how many animals are on the move over a given period, he said.

(U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via AP). This 2017 photo from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service motion-activated camera shows a black bear at the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge. Motion-detecting wildlife cameras are yielding serious science as...
(U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via AP). This 2017 photo from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service motion-activated camera shows a black bear at the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge. 

Where to position them requires careful forethought. Clustering several around a watering hole, for instance, might produce many images but not a thorough profile of a population.

"There's this tension between subjectivity in where you put your camera and where it's statistically sound," Harris said.

Sometimes smart-alecky humans turn up among the images. "I've seen people moon cameras, and that's always funny," he said.

Remote video can also reveal details about animal behavior, including the mewling sounds of migrating mule deer. And live-streaming cameras for everything from bison in Saskatchewan, Canada, to the underwater kelp forest off California's Channel Islands are always popular.

(U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via AP). This 2017 photo from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service motion-activated camera shows a moose at the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Motion-detecting wildlife cameras are yielding serious science a...
(U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via AP). This 2017 photo from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service motion-activated camera shows a moose at the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. 

As with all human intrusion into nature, remote cameras have downsides. Animals such as wolverines and bears have been known to attack them, though whether out of curiosity or aggression is hard to say.

Also, the devices have become popular tools to help hunters scout for game, sparking a debate over fair-chase ethics. Then there's the whole subjective thing about going into nature to get away from it all, including surveillance cameras.

Anyway, to answer the question: A bighorn sheep that looks like it's smiling probably isn't saying "cheese" but sniffing pheromones and other scents in what's called a flehmen response, said Harris.

In other words ... bleats us.

___

Follow Mead Gruver at https://twitter.com/meadgruver

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


WEDNESDAY

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(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey). Brooke Meadows, left, and Alex Ondrus go for a walk in Radnor Lake State Park, Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. A winter storm brought snow and cold temperatures to the area, causing the closing of schools and busin...
(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey). Brooke Meadows, left, and Alex Ondrus go for a walk in Radnor Lake State Park, Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn.

Snow, ice and record cold grip the South; at least 10 dead

Posted: Jan 16, 2018 8:53 PM MST
Updated: Jan 17, 2018 3:56 PM MST

By KATE BRUMBACK and JAY REEVES
Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) - Snow, ice and a record-breaking blast of cold closed runways, highways, schools and government offices across the South and sent cars sliding off roads Wednesday in a corner of the country ill-equipped to deal with wintry weather. At least 10 people died, including a baby in a car that plunged off a slippery overpass into a Louisiana canal.

Icicles hung from a statue of jazz musicians in normally balmy New Orleans, and drivers unaccustomed to ice spun their wheels across Atlanta, which was brought to a near-standstill by little more than an inch of snow. The beach in Biloxi, Mississippi, got a light coating. And the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill canceled classes as the storm unloaded at least 8 inches of snow in Durham and Greensboro.

(Calvin Mattheis/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP). UT senior Marlow Payat, of Memphis, bikes along Laurel Ave during an afternoon snowfall in Knoxville, Tenn., on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018.
(Calvin Mattheis/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP). UT senior Marlow Payat, of Memphis, bikes along Laurel Ave during an afternoon snowfall in Knoxville, Tenn., on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018.

The storm turned the morning rush hour treacherous, though many people heeded warnings to stay off the roads.

Even the best drivers had trouble: Retired NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. tweeted that he had just used his winch to help pull a car out of a ditch when he drove off the road and into a tree in North Carolina.

"NC stay off the roads today/tonight. 5 minutes after helping these folks I center punched a pine tree," he reported. A spokesman said Earnhardt was not hurt and his pickup had only minor damage.

By midday, skies were bright and sunny in many places, but temperatures were expected to remain below freezing throughout the day in much of the region, and roads are likely to remain icy into Thursday.

(Calvin Mattheis/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP). A woman walks through Fort Sanders during an afternoon snowfall in Knoxville, Tenn., Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018.
(Calvin Mattheis/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP). A woman walks through Fort Sanders during an afternoon snowfall in Knoxville, Tenn., Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018.

"People keep asking when we will get the all-clear," said Georgia Transportation Department spokeswoman Natalie Dale. "It will not happen today."

Thousands of schoolchildren and teachers got the day off. Many cities canceled meetings and court proceedings, and some businesses closed. Slippery runways and the need to de-ice planes forced cancellations and delays in New Orleans; Memphis, Tennessee; and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. Electricity usage surged to record highs as people struggled to keep warm.

In Alabama, where some places got at least 3 inches of snow, dairy farmer Will Gilmer bundled up for the drive to his milking barn before daybreak in rural Lamar County, the thermometer reading 7 degrees (minus 14 Celsius).

"I probably had four layers on and then insulated coveralls and a heavy coat on over that. I made it OK except for my toes," he said.

The mercury dropped to record lows overnight in several places in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi. It was 21 degrees (minus 6 Celsius) before dawn in New Orleans, breaking the city's record of 23 (minus 5 Celsius), set on the same date in 1977.

At least four people died in Louisiana, including a man who was knocked off an elevated portion of Interstate 10 in New Orleans when a pickup spun out of control on ice, and an 8-month-old baby who was in a car that slid into a canal in suburban New Orleans. The baby's mother was reported in critical condition.

Two others died along an icy stretch of I-75 southeast of Atlanta when a driver lost control and hit them, one of them inside a stopped car and the other standing beside it, authorities said.

One person died in a weather-related traffic accident in West Virginia. In the freezing Houston area, a homeless man was found dead behind a trash bin, apparently of exposure, while an 82-year-old woman with dementia succumbed to the cold after walking away from her home.

Also, a woman was discovered dead in a snowy park near City Hall in Memphis. The temperature was around 10 degrees when she was found.

Along the Gulf Coast, ice pellets covered the tops of sago palm trees, and stretches of I-10 were closed in Louisiana and across Alabama's Mobile Bay.

Downtown Atlanta - the corporate capital of the South, notorious for its heavy traffic - was eerily quiet. Dozens of accidents were reported across the metropolitan area, one involving a salt truck. Some motorists drove through red lights rather than stop and risk sliding.

"This is kind of my scene," said Sarah Snider, a zookeeper at the Atlanta zoo who recently moved from Vermont and marveled at how little snow it took to shut down the city.

Southern states and cities don't have the large fleets of snowplows, salting trucks and other snow-removal equipment common in the North.

"Y'all aren't going to make it!" a driver in a pickup truck yelled at two drivers in compact cars that were spinning their wheels on an icy boulevard near SunTrust Park, where the Atlanta Braves play. "You're going to slide back down the hill! Turn around!"

(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey). A man sleds down a road at Radnor Lake State Park, Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. A winter storm brought snow and cold temperatures to the area, causing the closing of schools and businesses.
(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey). A man sleds down a road at Radnor Lake State Park, Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn.

Outside Five Points Station, the center of Atlanta's commuter rail system, a man fell on the sidewalk and appeared unresponsive. An ambulance arrived quickly.

Adrian Benton, a 26-year-old native of snowy Buffalo, New York, tried to help.

"The up-north way of dealing with snow needs to come down here," Burton said. Atlanta needed "snowplows, salt already going down last night so people can get around."

But Susan Luciano, walking in her snow-blanketed Peachtree City, Georgia, neighborhood, was delighted: "It is the most romantic setting. It is beautiful. This is God's masterpiece. It's refreshing, it's rejuvenating, it's like a postcard. It's like our neighborhood is a living postcard."

Snow fell in a wide band that stretched from southeastern Texas all the way to western Massachusetts. As much as 4 inches fell from North Carolina into Virginia, and in Maryland, the weather service warned of wind chills as low as minus 10 (23 below zero Celsius).

___

Reeves reported from Birmingham, Alabama. Associated Press writers Jeff Martin in Atlanta; Jonathan Drew in Durham, North Carolina; David Warren in Dallas; Rebecca Reynolds Yonker in Louisville, Kentucky; Adrian Sainz in Memphis, Tennessee; and Heather Hollingsworth in Kansas City, Missouri, contributed to this report.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


TUESDAY

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(AP Photo/Earl Recamunda). Lava cascades down the slopes of Mayon volcano as seen from Legazpi city, Albay province, around 340 kilometers (210 miles) southeast of Manila, Philippines, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018. More than 9,000 people have evacuated the ar...
(AP Photo/Earl Recamunda). Lava cascades down the slopes of Mayon volcano as seen from Legazpi city, Albay province, around 340 kilometers (210 miles) southeast of Manila, Philippines, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018. 

Glowing red lava rolls down slopes of Philippine volcano

Posted: Jan 15, 2018 6:43 PM MST
Updated: Jan 16, 2018 10:23 AM MST

LEGAZPI, Philippines (AP) - Glowing red lava rolled down the slopes of a Philippine volcano Tuesday morning as authorities maintained a warning of a possible hazardous eruption.

The lava was quietly flowing in some places but at times Mount Mayon was erupting like a fountain, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said. Lava had advanced up to 2 kilometers (1.24 miles) from the crater, and ash reached up to 2 kilometers and fell on nearby communities.

(AP Photo/Earl Recamunda). Lava cascades down the slopes of Mayon volcano as seen from Legazpi city, Albay province, around 340 kilometers (210 miles) southeast of Manila, Philippines, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018. More than 9,000 people have evacuated the ar...
(AP Photo/Earl Recamunda). Lava cascades down the slopes of Mayon volcano as seen from Legazpi city, Albay province, around 340 kilometers (210 miles) southeast of Manila, Philippines, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018. 

Nearly 15,000 people have fled the danger zone within 6 to 7 kilometers of Mayon, and the institute strongly advised people not to re-enter the area.

Several small pyroclastic flows were generated by fragments in the lava streams and not by an explosion from the crater vent, like occurred with Mount Pinatubo, said Renato Solidum, who heads the volcano institute. Pyroclastic flows are superheated gas and volcanic debris that can race down slopes and incinerate everything in their path, and are feared in a major eruption.

(AP Photo/Earl Recamunda). Lava cascades down the slopes of Mayon volcano as seen from Legazpi city, Albay province, around 340 kilometers (210 miles) southeast of Manila, Philippines, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018. More than 9,000 people have evacuated the ar...
(AP Photo/Earl Recamunda). Lava cascades down the slopes of Mayon volcano as seen from Legazpi city, Albay province, around 340 kilometers (210 miles) southeast of Manila, Philippines, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018.

"The pyroclastic flows, there were several, were not generated by an explosion from the crater with lava, molten rocks and steam, shooting up the volcano then rolling down," Solidum said. "These were generated by lava fragments breaking off from the lava flow in the upper slopes."

He also said Mayon has not seen enough volcanic earthquakes of the type that would prompt scientists to raise the alert level to four, which would indicate an explosive eruption may be imminent. Emergency response officials previously said they may have to undertake forced evacuations if the alert is raised to four.

(AP Photo/Earl Recamunda). Lava cascades down the slopes of Mayon volcano as seen from Legazpi city, Albay province, around 340 kilometers (210 miles) southeast of Manila, Philippines, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018. More than 9,000 people have evacuated the ar...
AP Photo/Earl Recamunda). Lava cascades down the slopes of Mayon volcano as seen from Legazpi city, Albay province, around 340 kilometers (210 miles) southeast of Manila, Philippines, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018.

After steam explosions Saturday and lava rising in the crater on Sunday, the alert was raised to three on a scale of five, indicating a hazardous eruption is possible "within weeks or even days."

Mayon lies in coconut-growing Albay province about 340 kilometers (210 miles) southeast of Manila. With its near-perfect cone, Mayon is popular with climbers and tourists but has erupted about 50 times in the last 500 years, sometimes violently.

(AP Photo/Earl Recamunda). Lava cascades down the slopes of Mayon volcano as seen from Legazpi city, Albay province, around 340 kilometers (210 miles) southeast of Manila, Philippines, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018. More than 9,000 people have evacuated the ar...
(AP Photo/Earl Recamunda). Lava cascades down the slopes of Mayon volcano as seen from Legazpi city, Albay province, around 340 kilometers (210 miles) southeast of Manila, Philippines, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018.

In 2013, an ash eruption killed five climbers who had ventured near the summit despite warnings. Mayon's first recorded eruption was in 1616 and the most destructive in 1814 killed 1,200 people and buried the town of Cagsawa in volcanic mud.

The Philippines lies in the so-called "Ring of Fire," a line of seismic faults surrounding the Pacific Ocean where earthquakes and volcanic activity are common.

In 1991, Mount Pinatubo in the northern Philippines exploded in one of the biggest volcanic eruptions of the 20th century, killing about 800 people.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


MONDAY

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(Pasco County Fire Rescue via AP). In this photo provided by Pasco County flames engulf a boat Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018, in the Tampa Bay area. The boat ferrying patrons to a casino ship off the Florida Gulf Coast caught fire near shore Sunday afternoon, ...
(Pasco County Fire Rescue via AP). In this photo provided by Pasco County flames engulf a boat Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018, in the Tampa Bay area.

Casino company: Boat that caught fire had no past problems

Posted: Jan 14, 2018 8:52 PM MST
Updated: Jan 15, 2018 3:36 PM MST

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - A casino company said Monday it never had a problem with the shuttle boat that burst into flames off Florida's Gulf Coast, leading to the death of a female passenger.

Tropical Breeze Casino spokeswoman Beth Fifer said the company does not know what caused Sunday's huge blaze, which gutted the 12-year-old shuttle boat and forced about 50 passengers to jump into chilly waters off Port Richey.

"We are deeply saddened for the loss of our passenger, the 14 injured and anyone else who was affected by this tragedy," Fifer said.

Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point spokesman Kurt Conover said Monday that the passenger arrived at the hospital's emergency room at 10 p.m. Sunday and died shortly afterward. He said she had apparently gone home after the fire but became ill.

Pasco County Sheriff's Office spokesman Kevin Doll said the victim was 42. Her name has not been released and a cause of death has not been determined. Conover said eight other passengers were treated at the hospital and released.

Authorities originally said no injuries were life-threatening.

Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Michael De Nyse said investigators will determine the cause of the fire and examine the history of the boat and Tropical Breeze Casino.

Helicopter video taken by WTSP-TV early Monday shows the boat was burned down to its hull, with only an American flag on its bow uncharred.

(Pasco County Fire Rescue via AP). In this photo provided by Pasco County flames engulf a boat Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018, in the Tampa Bay area. The boat ferrying patrons to a casino ship off the Florida Gulf Coast caught fire near shore Sunday afternoon, ...
(Pasco County Fire Rescue via AP). In this photo provided by Pasco County flames engulf a boat Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018, in the Tampa Bay area.

The shuttle boat regularly carried people back and forth from the Tropical Breeze's offshore casino, about a 45-minute ride into international waters. There, passengers would play games such as black jack, which is illegal at non-Indian casinos in Florida, and roulette, which is illegal statewide.

The shuttle boat caught fire about 4 p.m. Sunday, quickly engulfing the boat close to shore near residential neighborhoods. Officials said the boat was headed out to the casino ship at the time.

Port Richey Police Chief Gerard DeCanio said the shuttle boat experienced engine problems after leaving the dock at Port Richey, a suburban community about 35 miles (55 kilometers) northwest of Tampa. But as the vessel turned back, flames kicked up and people began jumping overboard into shallow water, according to witness accounts.

Larry Santangelo, 57, said he had just driven into his neighborhood when he saw smoke and fire and thought a house - possibly his own - was ablaze. But then he realized it was the boat just about 100 yards (90 meters) offshore.

(Tambrey Laine/Pasco County via AP). In this photo provided by Pasco County flames engulf a boat Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018, in the Tampa Bay area. The boat ferrying patrons to a casino ship off the Florida Gulf Coast caught fire near shore Sunday afternoon...
(Tambrey Laine/Pasco County via AP). In this photo provided by Pasco County flames engulf a boat Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018, in the Tampa Bay area.

He told the Tampa Bay Times that he then saw people wandering about confused, wet and cold, after they reached land. One woman collapsed upon reaching shore and vomited, he said.

Santangelo said he took about 30 of the passengers into his garage to warm up and recover.

"It was so windy and they were soaking wet," said Santangelo. He worried that some might suffer from hypothermia.

It wasn't immediately clear what caused the fire, which sent a huge plume of dark black smoke wafting over sunny skies on an unusually chilly winter day in the Tampa Bay region.

"It looked pretty dramatic because the shuttle boat burned really fast," DeCanio told The Associated Press on Sunday.

Another witness told the Tampa Bay Times the shuttle boat passes regularly by his family's home, carrying patrons to and from a casino ship offshore. But he knew something was wrong when he saw smoke and heard shouts and screams.

"They didn't have much time to decide whether or not to jump," said Bakr Jandali, 19, who was with his home nearby. "The fire was moving fast. It was a hard jump."

Jandali said passengers had to jump about 12 feet (3 meters) from the boat and wade through waist-deep water to shore. There, residents gave them aid.

"All of us, my family and the neighbors, brought them towels and water," Jandali said. "They were so cold."

News footage at the site showed bedraggled survivors cloaked in blankets trying to warm themselves afterward.

The boat was identified in newspaper reports as the Island Lady, a 72-foot wooden-hulled vessel which Fifer said had been inspected by the Coast Guard.

"If we had any type of idea that there was a problem, we wouldn't have left the dock," the cruise spokeswoman told the Tampa Bay Times. "There was no inkling that there were any problems with that vessel whatsoever."

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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