No. 397, February 22, 2008
Wolves, Dead Zones, Bats, and Rainforests
Federal Protection Stripped From Rockies Gray Wolves, Groups Pledge Legal Challenge
On February 21, the Bush administration removed the gray wolf from the protections of the Endangered Species Act in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. Under the protection of the Act, the wolf population grew from a handful in the 1970s to more than 1,500 in 2007. The states, however, have pledged to kill up to 70 percent of wolves as soon as federal protections are removed, causing this endangered species success story to turn into a tragedy.
The Center for Biological Diversity, Natural Resources Defense Council, Earthjustice, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Alliance for the Wild Rockies have pledged to sue the administration to keep the wolf on the endangered species list. The Center is already in court opposing the administration's removal of protections for the gray wolf in the Great Lakes.
Read about it in USA Today.
Secretive Agency Forced to Review Grazing Impacts on 100,000 Acres in Yellowstone Ecosystem
In response to a lawsuit filed by the Center and Western Watersheds Project, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has agreed to review the impact of its Sheep Experiment Station on bighorn sheep, antelope, lynx, wolves, grizzly bears, and other sensitive species. The secretive station on the Idaho-Montana border grazes thousands of sheep on over 100,000 acres of public land where it conducts predator-control measures such as steel leghold traps, strangulation snares, aerial gunning, and poisoning, while refusing to abide by environmental laws or mitigate the environmental impact.
Read about it in the Jackson Hole Star-Tribune.
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Ocean Dead Zones Off West Coast Blamed on Global Warming
According to researchers at Oregon State University, "dead zones" off coastal Oregon, expanding into Washington and California, are likely caused by global warming. These low-oxygen waters, which are largely devoid of marine life, have been consistently returning to the region each summer since 2002, and scientists believe the areas may have crossed a tipping point where offshore, low-oxygen zones are the new normal.
Read about it in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Near-extinct Hawaiian Plant Proposed for Federal Protection
In response to a petition and lawsuit by the Center, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed on February 19 to protect a Hawaiian plant, Phyllostegia hispida, under the Endangered Species Act. The action comes more than two year after federal scientists urged the government to take emergency action because of the species' impending extinction. Phyllostegia hispida has dwindled to such low number that it has twice been feared extinct in the past decade.
Read about in our press release.
Emergency Action Requested to Save Northeast Bats From Deadly Disease
On February 18 the Center and its allies petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to take immediate action to protect Northeast bats threatened by a mysterious new ailment dubbed "white-nose syndrome." Bats with the ailment, including the endangered Indiana bat, are dying by the thousands in New York and Vermont while the Fish and Wildlife Service continues to approve logging, mining, road building, and development plans that will further stress them. Our petition asks that approval of these additional plans be withdrawn until the growing white-nose disease problem is solved.
"Logging, burning, road building -- all these actions harm endangered bats," said Mollie Matteson, public lands advocate with the Center. "With the deadly specter of white-nose syndrome looming over these vulnerable species, the government simply cannot carry on business as usual."
Read about it in the Rutland Herald and Burlington Free Press.
UN Delegation Visits Central America's Largest Rainforest
On February 18 an international coalition of conservation groups began meeting with delegates from the World Heritage Centre and World Conservation Union to discuss threats facing La Amistad International Park, a World Heritage site containing Central America's largest remaining virgin rainforest. Last April, the Center and its allies petitioned the World Heritage Committee to list the park as a site "in danger" because of pending dam construction. In June 2007, the committee decided to take action based on the Center's petition and resolved to send this week's joint delegation to evaluate threats facing La Amistad.
Click here to learn more about the danger to La Amistad International Park.
Tribes Join Fight to Save Arizona's Eagles
It was standing room only on February 6 in an Arizona federal courtroom when 75 tribal leaders and conservationists squared off against the Bush administration in battle over the future of Arizona's bald eagles. Calling the case "an important issue for our district and the United States," the judge allowed lawyers for the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, the San Carlos Apache Tribe, Yavapai-Apache Nation and Tonto Apache Tribe to explain why they supported the Center for Biological Diversity's effort to retain federal protection for the eagle in Arizona. The tribes argued that retaining Endangered Species Act protection for the eagle is the best way to honor the "ancient insight" they have into the eagle's role in the community of life.
Read more in the Arizona Republic.
Gray wolf photo courtesy of USFWS.
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