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Agency Again Takes Aim at Protections for Wolves in Northern Rockies, Great Lakes

In a disappointing and frankly disgraceful move last Friday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it would move forward with the Bush administration's anti-predator plan to remove Endangered Species Act protections from gray wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains and upper Midwest. Wolves in these regions have not recovered yet and still need federal safeguards to escape the fire of wolf-unfriendly states. Idaho and Montana could start killing wolves as soon as protections are stripped, and nearly 1,000 of the noble animals from Greater Yellowstone to Glacier National Park could be caught in the cross-hairs of hunters thanks to state-sponsored hunts. In 2008, when wolves went unprotected for just four months, 110 were slaughtered.

Intense legal opposition from the Center for Biological Diversity and allies last year ended the Bush administration's removal of protection for these wolves -- and now we need to do it again. The disastrous impacts of Friday's decision could mean the extermination of wolves across huge swaths of our country. The Center expected more from the Obama administration and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar -- and we and our allies will be doing everything possible to stop the new round of gray wolf attacks.

Read more in the Seattle Times.

Prez Gets Power to Repeal Bush's Endangered Species Act, Polar Bear Rules

What's always been our nation's greatest wildlife law is now surer than ever to rise to its pre-Bush glory -- and the polar bear finally has a good shot at true protections -- thanks to an appropriations bill passed by Congress this Tuesday. The bill grants the Obama administration power -- above the authority the president used in his Endangered Species Act-rescue memorandum last week -- to throw out the Bush administration's rules gutting the Act and weakening protections for the polar bear, without going through a long, thorny formal rulemaking process.

The rules weakening the Endangered Species Act exempt thousands of potentially species-harming federal activities, including those spewing greenhouse gases, from independent review under the Act. The special rule for the polar bear exempts greenhouse gas emissions and oil development (the two leading threats to the species) from regulation under the Act. "The plight of endangered species has dramatically improved with the change in administration and changes in Congress," declared the Center's Noah Greenwald. "We are hopeful that President Obama will sign the Omnibus Appropriations and that Secretary Salazar will move quickly to rescind these rules."

Read more in the Los Angeles Times.

California Grants and Boosts Protections for Bay Area Fish

Facing the complete collapse of native fish populations in the San Francisco Bay-Delta -- and two scientific petitions by the Center for Biological Diversity -- last Wednesday the California Fish and Game Commission voted to protect the longfin smelt as a threatened species under the state's Endangered Species Act, also upgrading the status of the delta smelt from "threatened" to "endangered." Thanks to massive water diversions, pollution, and invasive species, the longfin smelt has dropped to record low numbers in the Bay-Delta and is nearing extinction in other California estuaries; meanwhile, the delta smelt has plummeted to its lowest numbers ever recorded. Both these species were once abundant in the Bay-Delta, and the effects of their collapse are rippling up the food chain, harming other imperiled creatures from salmon to killer whales. The "smelt-down in the Delta" is in full swing.

The Center and allies petitioned California on behalf of both smelts in 2007. We petitioned the Bush administration to upgrade federal protection for the delta smelt in 2006 and to protect Bay-Delta longfin smelt in August 2007, but the feds have yet to make their final determinations. California's latest decisions are great news for the species, but unfortunately, the governor and water agencies are still pushing Bay-Delta water projects, and two water districts have sued to try to overturn the new delta smelt safeguards.

Read more in the San José Mercury News.

Center Calls for Medical Inquiry Into Jaguar's Death

Saddened by last week's tragic loss of Macho B, the last known U.S. jaguar in the wild, the Center for Biological Diversity has sent a request letter calling for an independent medical inquiry into the jaguar's death. The rare cat, though the oldest living jaguar in this country, was reportedly healthy before his initial capture in February by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, when he was outfitted with a radio collar to monitor his movements. But within 12 days, he was recaptured, found suffering from kidney failure, and euthanized. A necropsy by the Phoenix Zoo suggests that Macho B's kidney problems were likely further stressed by capture and sedation. "What we need to know," said Center conservation advocate Michael Robinson, "is if there is anything different that Game and Fish could have done and whether it is safe to capture jaguars given their very small numbers in the United States."

Though jaguars are endangered under the Endangered Species Act, the Bush administration's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refused to develop a recovery plan for the species or designate federally protected habitat. The Center is going to court on March 23 to challenge that decision and help Macho B's surviving cousins get the attention they need to repopulate our country.

Check out the Los Angeles Times article and our press release on the investigation, and learn more about the government's 30-year failure to conserve the jaguar in Grist.

State Protection Sought for Warming-threatened Seabird

Swooping to the aid of the Kittlitz's murrelet, a small-bodied, large-eyed Alaskan seabird, last Thursday the Center for Biological Diversity filed a scientific petition to protect the species under the state's Endangered Species Act due to threats from global warming, oil pollution, and fisheries bycatch mortality. The urgency to protect the little bird is greater than ever because as Alaska's surface temperatures spike and its coastal glaciers retreat and thin, the Kittlitz's murrelet is finding less and less foraging habitat -- and its numbers have entered a dramatic downward spiral. In fact, Alaska murrelet populations have plummeted by 80 to 90 percent in the past 20 years. Still, neither Alaska nor the federal government have yet bestowed protections on the bird.

The Center and allies petitioned the Bush administration to protect the Kittlitz's murrelet back in 2001, but the feds opted to leave the bird a mere "candidate" for federal Endangered Species Act status -- so we sued in 2005. Hopefully, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game will have the sense to protect the floundering seabird statewide before it crashes into extinction.

Read more in the Fort Mills Times.

New England Forest Shuns Timber-sale Opposition -- Watch Our Video and Take Action

Apparently set on ruining some of the best species habitat (and scenic hiking turf) in New Hampshire's White Mountain National Forest, last Thursday the U.S. Forest Service denied a Center for Biological Diversity and Sierra Club appeal of the "Kanc 7" project, the fourth recent timber sale to be planned in one of the forest's precious roadless areas. Kanc 7 is slated to log 875 acres, including 112 acres of clearcutting, which will degrade and fragment habitat for reclusive and wide-ranging species like the black bear and American marten. Making matters worse, the logging will contribute to global warming by spewing CO2 into the air while destroying carbon-absorbing trees. Two weeks ago, the Forest Service denied our appeal of the Mill Brook project, another sale slated for a White Mountain roadless area, and two more sales -- the Than Brook and Batchelder Brook timber sales -- are already underway.

"We hope the Obama administration will act quickly to enact strong, nationally consistent protections for all national forest roadless areas," said the Center's Mollie Matteson. "Until these areas are clearly and permanently protected, the Center for Biological Diversity will keep defending them, including challenging these timber sales in court if necessary."

Read our press release, learn more about our campaign for New England roadless areas, and take action and watch a video of clearcutting that's already gone down in the White Mountain National Forest.

West Virginia Oil and Gas Plans Threaten Imperiled Bats

To help vulnerable Northeast bats and other species of stream, forest, and air, last Wednesday the Center for Biological Diversity and eight allies filed an official protest against a plan to auction off oil and gas leases in West Virginia's Monongahela National Forest, including sensitive habitat for the endangered Indiana and Virginia big-eared bats. The site of the project, planned by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, lies just a few miles west of "Hellhole Cave," the largest winter hibernation site in the world for the Virginia big-eared bat and a major winter refuge for the Indiana bat. Both bat species have been suffering from the deadly and mysterious white-nose syndrome, which is killing bats across the Northeast and has just been confirmed present in West Virginia.

"Drilling and disease are a one-two punch that could spell the absolute end of these bats," said Center conservation advocate Mollie Matteson. And of course, not only bats would be harmed by oil and gas drilling -- so would local water quality, stream flows, and countless other at-risk wildlife, from native brook trout to the West Virginia northern flying squirrel (the other "flying" mammal).

Read our press release and learn more about our campaign to help bats dying from white-nose syndrome.

Hang Out on Facebook, Save the Planet

Are you between 16 and 25 years old? A U.S. resident? Active and motivated -- and most importantly, green? Then you're eligible to compete for cool, green-geared prizes offered by Hot Dish, an online climate news publication run through Facebook. Administered by Seattle-based news aggregator NewsCloud, with headlines from witty eco-newshounds, Hot Dish engages social network activists in sharing news about climate change and building community around environmental issues. You definitely don't have to be 16 to 25 to get involved with Hot Dish -- it's open to anyone, young or just youthfully enthusiastic. But if you fit the right demographic, you can join the Hot Dish Climate Action Team, complete challenges to change the world, and maybe win stuff like a $200 REI gift card or even an Arctic expedition. (And everybody can get endangered species ringtones from the Center for Biological Diversity's

The Center will be providing some of Hot Dish's content -- specifically, information about why it's crucial to reduce Earth's atmospheric CO2 levels to below 350 parts per million to avoid runaway global warming. "Climate change is the most important challenge confronting our world today," said Executive Director Russ Walker. And in the end, as Hot Dish reminds us, "it's all about kicking climate change in the, um, shin."

Learn about Hot Dish from NewsCloud's press release and sign up now.

Big Thanks, Working Assets and CREDO Customers

Due to an overwhelming number of votes from devoted Center for Biological Diversity fans who also happen to get credit-card or phone services from Working Assets or CREDO Mobile, the Center has received a donation of more than $62,000 to help us save endangered plants and animals. Each year, Working Assets donates a portion of its customers' charges to a select group of progressive nonprofits, with the total amount depending on the number of votes each group receives throughout the year. We were excited to be on the ballot in 2008 -- and now we're pleasantly surprised, to say the least, that we received so much support. Thanks for the props, all you Working Assets and CREDO folks, and please nominate us to be on the ballot again in 2010.

To nominate the Center here, you'll need our developnment director's name, e-mail address, and phone number: Jennifer Shepherd,, (520) 396.1135.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits:  gray wolf by John and Karen Hollingsworth, USFWS; gray wolf courtesy National Park Service; polar bear by Pete Spruance; delta smelt by B. Moose Peterson, USFWS; Macho B courtesy Arizona Game and Fish Department; Kittlitz's murrelet by Gus van Vliet, USGS; forest by Edward McCain; Indiana bat courtesy USFWS.

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