Rocky Mountain Wolf Slaughter Halted -- For Now
To stop the indiscriminate killing of gray wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains, last Friday a federal judge returned the wolves to the endangered species list -- which they were removed from this spring -- until a lawsuit to permanently restore protections is brought to a close. The suit, filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and 11 other groups in April, challenged the removal of the wolves' protections because the northern Rockies populations remain threatened by state management plans decidedly biased against the predators' survival. Since losing federal protection on March 28, more than 100 wolves in Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, and parts of Oregon and Washington have already been killed.
Unfortunately, northern Rockies wolves won't be safe from the killing for long -- Friday's decision will only hold until a final ruling on the case happens later this year. And just in case the court sees through the weak arguments against wolf protection, the administration has established a separate rule allowing wolves to be killed regardless of their protection status. The Center is fighting that rule, too.
Hear more from the Associated Press.
Agency Upholds Protections for Threatened Dunes Plant
Last Wednesday the administration quite rightly dismissed a petition by off-roaders to remove protections from a rare floral resident of California's Algodones Dunes, the largest sand-dune ecosystem in the United States. The Peirson's milk-vetch, a pretty, purple-flowered plant adapted to live in harsh conditions of shifting sands, blowing winds, and arid heat, grows only within a narrow corridor of the dunes -- which, unfortunately for the wildflower, are the popular destination for hundreds of thousands of plant-destroying off-road vehicles each year.
In a dubious petition submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, off-road vehicle groups insisted the milk-vetch population is stable enough that it no longer needs protection. But the agency said those claims just can't be supported. The milk-vetch will retain its protections, and the roughly 50,000 acres of the dunes already closed to off-road vehicles will stay off-limits to their tearing tires.
Read more in the Press Enterprise.
Feds Move Ahead With Oil-shale Sham
Disregarding the severe threats of global warming and the well-being of delicate western ecosystems, this week the Bureau of Land Management moved toward developing a commercial oil-shale leasing program on 2 million acres of public lands in Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah. Despite the opposition of two governors and many members of Congress, the administration outlined rules for letting companies engage in the most wasteful and greenhouse gas-intensive method of oil development: squeezing oil from rock.
Besides requiring way more energy than conventional oil production, oil shale development is land-intensive and could devour up to 1.4 million acre-feet of Colorado River basin water each year. It's also fundamentally incompatible with reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels to 350 parts per million, the latest number deemed "safe" by climate scientists.
Read more in Deseret News.
Despite Own Idleness, EPA Affirms Warming's Threat
Soon after declining to regulate the emissions that cause global warming, last Thursday the Environmental Protection Agency nevertheless declared the phenomenon a major threat to humans. Besides "very likely" contributing to heat-caused deaths, an agency report said, global warming has a long list of disastrous potential effects, including more powerful hurricanes, dwindling water in the West, sea-level rise, an increased spread of disease, and more "bad air days" in already-smoggy cities.
Of course, all that's old news; what's interesting is that it's coming from an administration known for denying the dangers of climate change -- and the same agency that last week punted greenhouse gas regulation to the next administration. EPA's spokesman denied a conflict between that decision and the new report, but a former EPA official has confirmed that last week's move resulted from White House interference. He also mentioned that before the decision, EPA officials met with oil-industry bigwigs... and we don't think they were chatting about the weather.
Read more in the Washington Post.
California Resolves to Save Sea Turtles From Deadly Longlines
Sending a clear message to the administration to protect marine life from brutally dangerous fishing equipment, last Tuesday the California legislature passed a resolution against federal proposals to allow longline swordfish fishing in endangered sea turtle habitat. Longline fishing, which uses lines hundreds of miles long equipped with thousands of hooks, brings in about 50 percent bycatch, including seabirds, dolphins, seals, and sharks -- and it's one of today's worst threats facing federally protected Pacific leatherback and North Pacific loggerhead sea turtles. In fact, if current bycatch rates don't take a fast downturn, both species could die off completely within 10 to 20 years.
Last week's resolution, authored by state Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, is sponsored by the Sea Turtle Restoration Project and supported by several environmental groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity.
Learn more from the Bay area's CBS5.
Baffling Bat Disease May Now Be in Maine
The mysterious and deadly white-nose syndrome, a disease of unknown origin that's killed thousands of hibernating bats from New York to Vermont, is still spreading fast. Now, folks in western and central Maine are noticing their own state's bats dying. Although no Maine bats have yet been found displaying the main symptom of the disease -- a white fungus growing on the snout -- the new bat deaths mean that Maine bats could have been exposed.
This is more bad news for endangered bats like the Indiana bat, whose numbers have declined sharply in the Northeast and who may already be nearly gone from New York, Vermont, and Pennsylvania. To help protect endangered bats in light of the new disease, the Center for Biological Diversity has filed a notice of intent to sue the administration if it doesn't review federal projects that could harm imperiled bats throughout the Northeast.
Read more in the Sun Journal.
Pope Preaches for Earth at Annual "Catholic Woodstock"
Kicking off a speech last week for the 23rd annual World Youth Day festival in Sydney, Australia -- a massive gathering of young Catholics from across the globe -- Pope Benedict XVI orated to a 150,000-strong crowd on a topic close to his heart: environmental protection. In several languages to people representing 70 countries, he lauded nature's "majestic splendor" -- and went on to lament its destruction, "the scars which mark the surface of our earth: erosion, deforestation, the squandering of the world's mineral and ocean resources in order to fuel an insatiable consumption." He also highlighted the effects of global warming, expressing sadness for countries already devastated by drought and island nations threatened by sea-level rise.
Concluding a week of World Youth Day activities, the 81-year-old pontiff left his young audience with some important questions: "What will you leave the next generation? Are you building ... something that will endure? The world needs this renewal." Right on, Pope Benedict. Right on.
Get more from CNN.
Last Pinta Island Tortoise May Be Bachelor No More
"Lonesome George," the last surviving Galapagos giant tortoise from the Pinta Island clan, has shunned the opposite sex for decades. Since he was taken into captivity 36 years ago in the hopes that he would mate with similar Galapagos tortoises -- and thus carry on his line -- he's ignored his keepers' many attempts to get him interested in reproducing. Now, though, at 60 to 90 years of age, George is in his sexual prime, and just when keepers had given up on him, park rangers found a nest with several eggs in George's pen. In about four months, we'll know if George is indeed a proud new dad.
Pinta Island tortoises, one Galapagos species to inspire Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, were nearly obliterated by fisherman who killed them for food. Scientists hope that Lonesome George's offspring, as well as genes from one of his distant relatives found on another island last year, will ensure the Pinta species doesn't die when he does.
Hear more from Reuters and listen to what National Public Radio has to say.
Photo credits: Gray wolf by John and Karen Hollingsworth, USFWS; Peirson's milk-vetch by Jim Dice; Colorado River by Michelle Harrington; power plant by Phillip J. Redman, USGS; loggerhead sea turtle hatchling courtesy of USFWS; Indiana bat courtesy of USFWS; Pope Benedict XVI courtesy of Agencia Brasil; Lonesome George by Putneymark.
This message was sent to [[Email]].
The Center for Biological Diversity sends out action alerts and newsletters through DemocracyinAction.org. If you'd like to check your profile and preferences, click here. To stop receiving action alerts and newsletters from us, click here.