| FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 4, 2006
Contact: Jeff Miller, Center for Biological Diversity, (510) 499-9185
Group Starts Give a Hoot For Owls Campaign
Volunteers in 27 Cities, a Dozen States Will Educate Public About
San Francisco, Calif. – This weekend the Center for Biological Diversity (Center) is launching a nationwide “Give a Hoot” campaign to protect imperiled owls, an event that coincides with the release of the major motion picture Hoot. Based on a novel by Carl Hiaasen, Hoot is an “eco-thriller” about teenagers who take on Florida developers that are destroying habitat for owls. As part of the campaign, more than 100 volunteers in at least 27 cities and a dozen states will educate moviegoers about the real-life plight of vanishing owls and other endangered wildlife, and collect petition signatures supporting their protection.
“Unfortunately, destruction of habitat for rare owls is not only part of a novel or Hollywood script. Imperiled owls throughout the country are threatened by bulldozers clearing land for urban sprawl and chainsaws cutting into old-growth forests,” said Jeff Miller, wildlife advocate with the Center.
Give a Hoot volunteers will spread the word about the conservation of owls and the opportunities to take action to protect their last habitat. Volunteers are participating in at least 15 cities in California, including San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, San Leandro, Fremont, Antioch, Woodland, Carmel, Idyllwild, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Santa Ana, San Diego, Grand Terrace and Bakersfield. Volunteers are also signed up in Portland and Waldport, Oregon; Denver, Colorado; Tucson, Arizona; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Ironton, Missouri; Bloomington, Indiana; Houston, Minnesota; Leicester, North Carolina; Fords, New Jersey; Long Island, New York; and Camden, Maine.
”The Center has been extensively involved in protecting owls for more than a decade. It is our hope that Hoot will help inspire a new generation to join in this effort,” said Peter Galvin, Conservation Director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s time to stand up for the little guys and give a hoot for owls.”
PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES ARE AVAILABLE: Participants will have owl costumes and other visuals at several locations, including San Francisco and Santa Barbara. More information is available by phone.
Western Burrowing Owl
No state or federal laws adequately protect burrowing owl habitat and a large percentage of the state’s burrowing owls are on unprotected land at risk of development. In 2003, the Center and other conservation groups petitioned to list the burrowing owl under the California Endangered Species Act, but the state rejected the petition and refused to act. The Center is now working on a new listing petition.
Cactus Ferruginous Pygmy Owl
Developers filed a lawsuit in 2001 to overturn both the pygmy-owl listing and critical habitat protections. A court removed the critical habitat but left the endangered listing in place. Despite the fact that the owl is near extinction in Arizona and government biologists recommending that the owl remain protected, the Bush administration proposed removing the pygmy owl from the endangered species list and plans to strip all protections in May 2006. The Center and other conservation groups filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in April 2006 to challenge this decision.
Endangered Species Act Under Attack
One of the most important ways to ensure that endangered species recover is to protect the habitats in which they live. The Act accomplishes this by designating and providing special protection to “critical habitat” for a species. Critical habitat protection works: scientists have shown that species with critical habitats protected are twice as likely to be recovering as those without critical habitat protected.
In September 2005, the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 3824, introduced by Richard Pombo (R-CA), which would systematically remove every proven recovery tool from the Endangered Species Act. It’s companion, Senate bill S. 2110, would completely derail the endangered species listing program, remove protections for endangered species habitat, and cut federal oversight of projects that threaten endangered species.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a science-based nonprofit organization that works to protect endangered species and wild places throughout the world through science, policy, education, citizen activism and environmental law. The Center has more than 24,000 members and 10 offices throughout the country.