This Hour: Latest Alabama news, sports, business and entertainment

This Hour: Latest Alabama news, sports, business and entertainment

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DOG FIGHTING

Georgia man pleads guilty in dog fighting ring

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - A Georgia man has become the eleventh person to plead guilty in a dog fighting investigation stretching across four states.

Thirty-nine year old Edward Duckworth of Decatur, Georgia pleaded guilty to conspiracy Wednesday in federal court in Montgomery, Alabama. He admitted to helping transport a dog from Georgia to east Alabama for a dog fight in 2012.

When Duckworth and his companions were returning home, Georgia state troopers stopped their car and found a dead dog inside.

A few minutes after Duckworth pleaded guilty, his mother, 61-year-old Mae Gussie Duckworth of Decatur, was arraigned on a charge of threatening a witness in the case. She pleaded not guilty.

Ten others from Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Texas have already pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

BLACK BEARS

Alabama's black bear population growing

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Alabama conservation officials say black bear sightings make it clear that the bears are increasing in number and expanding their range.

Keith Gauldin of the conservation department's wildlife division says black bears have been sighted recently in Butler and Choctaw counties in south Alabama. Sightings have occurred in recent years in Jefferson, Lee, Chambers and Macon counties.

The department estimates Alabama has less than 350 black bears. Alabama's black bear population was based in Mobile and Washington counties for many years.

Conservation officials say bears migrating from Georgia have established a small but viable population in northeast Alabama. They say the expansion to other areas is likely the result of a natural increase in black bears and habitat fragmentation due to residential and commercial development.

PROTECTED TURTLE HABITAT

Critical habitat designated for loggerhead turtles

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Federal agencies say 685 miles of beaches and nearly 200,000 square miles of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico are critical habitat for threatened loggerhead sea turtles.

Conservation groups say it's the largest such designation ever.

It includes 88 nesting beaches from North Carolina through Mississippi, plus waters just off of those beaches, floating algae mats where baby turtles live and other marine areas.

The beaches were listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the marine habitats by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's fisheries service.

A federal agency that names a critical habitat must be consulted before federal permits or contracts are issued there. It does not affect ownership or create wildlife preserves or refuges.

Loggerheads are vulnerable to boat collisions, fishing nets and beach alterations.

TRACTOR DEATH

SE Ala. man found dead beneath running tractor

GENEVA, Ala. (AP) - Authorities in southeast Alabama say an 87-year-old man found dead beneath a tractor was killed in an apparent accident.

The Dothan Eagle reports the tractor's motor was still running when Clyde Gilmore's body was discovered Tuesday in rural Geneva County. Deputy Coroner Ronnie Smith said that Gilmore had been cutting hay when he died.

The man's body and tractor were found off County Road 49, not far from Gilmore's home in neighboring Houston County.

Authorities are still gathering information on the death.

TUPELO AIRPORT

Tupelo airport board gives nod to SeaPort

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) - The Tupelo Airport Authority Board has chosen Portland, Oregon-based SeaPort Airlines for local passenger service.

If approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation, SeaPort will replace Silver Airways, which in April announced it was leaving Greenville, Hattiesburg, Meridian, Tupelo and Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Greenville and Muscle Shoals, Alabama, also are recommending SeaPort.

Tom Sieber, SeaPort Airlines' executive vice president, says the Cessna Grand Caravan the company uses can seat nine people, in addition to a pilot and co-pilot.

Board members say SeaPort is offering 12 weekly round-trips to Memphis and 18 round-trips to Nashville for a federal subsidy of $2.5 million.

Tupelo Airport Executive Director Josh Abramson says if the government approved SeaPort, then flights will most likely begin in October or November.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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