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WISCASSET, Maine - A nonprofit educational group in Maine has announced 27-year-old Byron the Barred Owl, a "wildlife ambassador'' who helped educate thousands of students, has died of natural causes.
 
The Chewonki Foundation made the announcement Thursday, saying the owl is believed to have visited more than 80,000 Maine school children during her time with the educational institution based in Wiscasset. WCSH-TV reports Byron averaged about 153 live appearances a year statewide.
 

The Trump administration announced Thursday that it’s committed to supporting states that want to require Medicaid recipients to work.

Maine is one of 10 states that’s seeking federal permission to do that. Gov. Paul LePage and other Republicans say the policy would help lift people out of poverty. But advocates for Medicaid recipients say implementing a work requirement would not only harm the people Medicaid is intended to help, it would also be illegal.

It's Thursday and time for Across the Aisle, our weekly roundtable on politics. This week, Cynthia Dill, an attorney who served in the Legislature as a Democrat; Dick Woodbury, an economist and former independent lawmaker; and former Republican legislator Meredith Strang Burgess of Burgess Advertising and Marketing. They spoke with Keith Shortall.

A 22-year-old Westbrook man was convicted Thursday of conspiracy following a three-day jury trial in U.S. District Court.

“He was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to commit offenses against the United States, namely the offense of SNAP trafficking and WIC program fraud,” says Assistant U.S. Attorney James Chapman, who prosecuted the case against Abdulkareem Daham.

Jack Smith / Associated Press File

Federal wildlife officials say the nation’s once-threatened population of Canada lynx is in recovery, and can be taken off the endangered species list. The move caps years of controversy over the species’ health in Maine.

Illegal methamphetamine makers often turn to college students and others to buy pseudoephedrine for them to make drugs in their home labs. Carlos Gutierrez, vice president of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, says it’s a practice that law enforcement calls “smurfing.”

“That’s basically the act of purchasing pseudoephedrine, knowing or unknowingly on behalf of another individual who makes methamphetamine out of it,” he says.

In Maine and many other states, smurfing is a crime, punishable by years in prison.

Biddeford has become the latest Maine city to file a federal lawsuit against several manufacturers and distributors of opioids.

The Biddeford City Council voted earlier this month to join the nationwide lawsuit which is intended to bring some relief to local cities and towns from the costs associated with the opioid epidemic. Those include medical expenses, additional law enforcement and treatment programs.

A week after major coastal flooding caught some Mainers off guard, the Maine Emergency Management Agency is urging residents across the state to get prepared for more potential flooding — this time along inland waterways — during this week’s sudden thaw.

“When flooding occurs those waters tend to rise pretty quickly, and you don’t always have a lot of time to think about things, so now is the time to start preparing,” says Susan Faloon with MEMA.

BERWICK, Maine - Authorities say a car was rear-ended and sent into the path of an oncoming school bus in Maine, killing the driver.
 
Police say the 31-year-old driver of a Ford Fusion was making a turn in Berwick Wednesday afternoon when he or she was rear-ended by a 42-year-old driver.
 
The collision pushed the Ford Fusion in front of a school bus being driven by a 75-year-old man. Police say there were no students on the bus.
 
The driver of the Ford Fusion was transported to a local hospital after the crash where he was pronounced dead.
 

NEW GLOUCESTER, Maine - Officials at a Maine outdoor center are warning skiers to watch out for an "aggressive dive-bombing'' owl that recently struck a man.
 
Pineland Farms says in a Facebook post the owl cut the man's head when it attacked, and neither skiers nor trail groomers have seen the bird since.
 
Pineland says the owl is protecting a nest near the Campus Loop Ski Trail in New Gloucester. They believe the bird is either a barred owl or a great horned owl.
 

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine officials say the number of drug-affected babies born in the state declined last year for the first time in more than a decade.
 
The Maine Department of Health and Human Services says the number fell to 952 in 2017. The number had climbed from 165 in 2005 to 1,024 in 2016. At the trend's peak, about 8 percent of all babies born in the state were drug-affected.
 

FREEPORT, Maine - Retailer L.L. Bean is giving $2 million to charity with a renewed focus on groups that help get kids outdoors.
 
The company says its Board of Directors last month approved gifts ranging from $5,000 to $412,000 to a variety of organizations engaged in conservation, outdoor recreation, health and human services, education and the arts.
 
Chairman Shawn Gorman says the Freeport-based company's goal is to support organizations that strengthen communities and protect the outdoors.
 

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine's governor has signed an emergency proclamation to make sure residents have access to heating oil deliveries during a stretch of cold weather in the state.
 
Republican Gov. Paul LePage says the proclamation will facilitate a waiver from the U.S. Department of Transportation to allow drivers who deliver and transport heating fuels to work additional hours. He says many fuel delivery drivers in the state will soon approach the federal limit on hours of operation.
 

Collins, King Back Bill To Reverse FCC Vote Against Net Neutrality

Jan 11, 2018
Mal Leary / Maine Public/file

Maine Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins said Tuesday they’ll support new legislation to overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s vote last month to scuttle Obama-era net neutrality standards.

Scavengers Now Threaten Lubec Landmark Swept To Canadian Island By Blizzard

Jan 11, 2018
Courtesy Craig McCaslin / via Bangor Daily News

A piece of Down East fishing history sits stranded on a Canadian island and its American owners despaired Wednesday of rescuing it before scavengers finish tearing it apart.

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