From: Kieran Suckling [ksuckling@biologicaldiversity.org]
Sent: Monday, November 20, 2000 6:06 PM
To: Recipient list suppressed
Subject: BIODIVERSITY ACTIVIST #260
<<>><<>><<>><<>><<>><<>><<>><<>><<>><<>><>><<>
             CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY

           <www.biologicaldiversity.org>      11-20-00      #260
<<>><<>><<>><<>><<>><<>><<>><<>><<>><<>><>><<>

§ HAWAIIAN LOBSTER FISHERY CLOSED TO PROTECT MONK SEAL

§ PETITION FILED TO PROTECT ALASKAN SEA OTTERS

§ SUIT CHALLENGES COUNTRY CLUB SPRAWL TO SAVE
   ENDANGERED FROG AND SNAKE

§ RELEASE OF GOSHAWK INFORMATION ORDERED

§ SUIT TO BE FILED TO PROTECT NEW MEXICO BUTTERFLY

§ MEDIA: HARDBALL TACTICS MAKE THE CENTER ONE OF THE
   MOST FORMIDABLE GROUPS IN THE NATION


HAWAIIAN LOBSTER FISHERY CLOSED TO PROTECT MONK SEAL
A federal judge has ruled in favor of a suit brought by the Greenpeace
Foundation, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Sea Turtle
Restoration to protect Hawaiian monk seals from competition with and
killing by commercial fisheries. The lobster fishery will be closed until a
plan is approved to protect the seals. A future order will determine if and
when the bottomfish fishery will be closed or modified.

The Hawaiian monk seal  is one of the world’s most endangered marine
mammals. It has decline to about 1,3000 individuals, primarily found in
the northwestern Hawaiian Islands where it must compete for food with
an aggressive commercial lobster fishery. During the 1990's, the largest
colony (French Frigate Shoals) suffered a 55% decline because juvenile
seals are starving to death even as the lobster industry is permitted to
capture hundreds of thousands of spiny and slipper lobsters from the
monk seal’s formally designated “critical habitat” each year.

Ironically, the fishing pressure is so intense that the industry is putting
itself out of business. Several temporary closures of the fishery have
failed to revive the lobster population. The bottomfish fishery kills seals
by accidentally hooking them, and by feeding them unwanted fish
containing ciguatera toxin. It operates without environmental observers
despite evidence that monk seals have been bludgeoned by bottomfish
fishermen.

The case was argued by Paul Achitoff of the Earthjustice Legal Defense
Fund (Honolulu).
     ________________________

PETITION FILED TO PROTECT ALASKAN SEA OTTERS
On 1-25-00, the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the U.S. Fish &
Wildlife Service to list the Western Alaska/Aleutian Islands population of
the sea otter as "Endangered" under the Endangered Species Act.  Once
widely abundant along the coast from Alaska to California, the sea otter
was hunted to the brink of extinction by commercial hunters a century
ago. After decades of protection, however, sea otter populations
rebounded, and continued to climb through the 1980's.  Unfortunately,
this conservation success story has taken a turn for the worse: sea otter
populations in Western Alaska have been declining rapidly since the mid-80's.
Hardest hit has been the Aleutian population. Once the largest in
the world, the population has declined by 95% over the past few years,
with perhaps only 6,000 individuals remaining.

Rather than act on our petition, the Fish & Wildlife Service designated the
Aleutian Islands sea otter as a "Candidate" species for protection on 11-9-00,
a designation without protective status. The agency says it does not
plan to list the species as “endangered” until 2002—by which time the
otter population may have suffered further critical decline. In response,
the Center has filed a formal 60day notice of its intent to sue. Federal
policy allows species to be designated as "candidates" when the agency
is too busy with more imperiled species to take immediate action. In this
case, the designation is clearly an unlawful dodge- no other species in
Alaska is currently being processed by the Fish and Wildlife Service for
Endangered Species Act listing.

Scientists believe that increased predation by orcas may be causing the
precipitous decline in sea otters. Although orcas in the region have
traditionally subsisted on larger marine mammals such as Steller sea
lions and harbor seals, these species have declined precipitously in
recent years, forcing the whales to hunt other prey such as otters. The
Steller sea lion was emergency listed as an endangered species in 1990.
Increased predation by orcas is but a symptom of the wholesale decline
of the North Pacific/Bering Sea ecosystem caused by overfishing and
global warming.

For more information about Alaskan and California sea otters and the
Center’s efforts to save them, check out:
<www.biologicaldiversity.org/swcbd/species/otter/otter.html>

     ________________________

SUIT CHALLENGES COUNTRY CLUB SPRAWL TO SAVE
ENDANGERED FROG AND SNAKE
On 10-14-00, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Hayward Area
Planning Association filed suit to stop construction of the Blue Rock
Country Club Project in San Francisco’s East Bay. The suit challenges
the United States Fish & Wildlife Service's failure to protect the Alameda
whipsnake and California red-legged frog from the effects of urban
sprawl.

The proposed Blue Rock Country Club Project would be a 1,642-acre
luxury home and golf course development that would destroy and
fragment the existing oak woodland, grassland, and coastal scrub
ecosystem on Walpert Ridge in the city of Hayward. California is losing
thousands of acres of habitat and open space each year to low-density
development. Alameda and Contra Costa counties are among the fastest-
growing areas in the state. Surrounded on all sides by growing cities and
busy interstate highways, the Walpert-Sunol Ridge system is quite
literally one of the few remaining islands of habitat for many species.

The Center is represented by Becca Bernard and Deborah Reames of
Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund and Brendan Cummings (Berkeley).
     _________________

JUDGE ORDERS RELEASE OF GOSHAWK INFORMATION
A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. Forest Service can not withhold
information from the public concerning the status of goshawks on the
Kaibab National Forest and the Grand Canyon National Park. The Forest
Service has continually relied on unpublished research to assert that
goshawk populations are stable and more impacted by prey population
cycles than logging. But it has refused to provide any of this information
to the public, claiming the research is exempt from the U.S. Freedom of
Information Act. A federal judge has upheld the strict requirement of the
Act, however, and ordered the agency to provide all but the most
biologically sensitive information to the Center.
     ______________________

SUIT TO BE FILED TO PROTECT NEW MEXICO BUTTERFLY
On 10-5-00, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a 60-day notice of
intent to sue the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for failing to protect the
Sacramento Mountains checkerspot butterfly under the Endangered
Species Act. The Center filed a petition to list the checkerspot as
endangered on 1/28/99 because of threats to the butterfly's habitat from
road construction, livestock grazing, invasive plants, climate change,
construction of new houses, and pesticide spraying. The Fish & Wildlife
Service issued an initial finding that endangered status may be
warranted, but has taken no further action protect the butterfly.

The white and deep orange checkered butterfly is found only in alpine
meadows in a small area, surrounding the Village of Cloudcroft, New
Mexico within the Lincoln National Forest.  A major threat to the
butterfly's habitat were plans by the Forest Service to give the Village of
Cloudcroft eight parcels of land with essential butterfly habitat. The
parcels would have been developed for a maintenance yard, ball fields
and other uses.  In response to the petition, the Village of Cloudcroft and
the Forest Service agreed to preserve three parcels with the most
butterfly habitat. Many threats to the butterfly's habitat remain, however,
including the recent loss of important habitat to State Highway 130.
     ________________

MEDIA: HARDBALL TACTICS MAKE THE CENTER ONE OF THE
MOST FORMIDABLE GROUPS IN THE NATION
Responding to the Center’s aggressive campaign to control unplanned
sprawl in southern and central California, the Orange County Register
printed a story about the Center on 10-12-00 entitled “A Rep for Playing
Hardball.” The pro-development paper is less than happy about the
Center’s spate of recent successes, but admitted that our “tough tactics”
are working and have made the center “one of the most formidable
activist groups in the nation.” See the full story: 
<http://www.ocregister.com/community/gnat0s1012cci.shtml>

_____________________________________________________________

ENDANGERED TOTEMS. Eleven of the twelve western states have adopted imperiled species as their state fish: New Mexico (Rio Grande cutthroat trout), Arizona (Apache trout), Colorado (Greenback cutthroat trout), Utah (Bonneville cutthroat trout), Nevada (Lahontan cutthroat trout), California (Golden trout), Oregon (Chinook salmon), Washington (Steelhead trout), Idaho, Montana and Wyoming (Cutthroat trout).

Kierán Suckling                           ksuckling@biologicaldiversity.org
Science and Policy Director          520.623.5252 phone
Center for Biological Diversity        520.623.9797 fax
<www.biologicaldiversity.org>        POB 710, Tucson, AZ 85702-0710