New Report: Millions of Western Bats in Danger -- Take Action
A report released Wednesday by the Center for Biological Diversity finds that most federal land managers in the West have yet to take the most important step in slowing the spread of a deadly bat-killing disease: closing caves to all but essential access. In fact, our analysis found that most caves in the West remain open to human traffic -- leaving millions of bats vulnerable to white-nose syndrome, called the worst wildlife health crisis in memory.
This deadly bat disease has already killed more than a million bats in up to 14 eastern states and two Canadian provinces and is heading west with frightening speed. Yet even after a Center petition last year to close all federal caves and abandoned mines in the lower 48 states -- which is the best way to help stem the syndrome's spread -- the feds have yet to step up. Time is running out. Biologists are predicting the extinction of one or more bat species in the near future. Help us stop the spread before it's too late.
Get more from Vermont Public Radio, read our press release and take action now by telling public-lands managers to close western caves and help save bats.
Lawsuit Will Defend 82 Warming-threatened Corals
Coral reefs could collapse by mid-century due to global warming and ocean acidification. To stop this from happening, the Center for Biological Diversity this Tuesday filed a notice of intent to sue the feds for failing to move forward on our petition to grant Endangered Species Act protections for 82 coral species throughout U.S. waters.
Due to global warming, last year was the second-worst on record for coral deaths caused by bleaching, which happens when too-warm water temperatures make corals expel the colorful algae they need for survival. Corals are also endangered by ocean acidification, in which carbon dioxide absorbed by the sea causes the water to become acidic, impairing corals' ability to grow -- and which will soon begin to erode some existing coral reefs. The Center has already earned safeguards for two warming-threatened corals, the elkhorn and staghorn.
Get more from KeysNet.com and learn more about ocean acidification.
Two Southeast Mussels Proposed for Protection
In a good move for mussels, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last week proposed to protect the colorfully named sheepnose and spectaclecase under the Endangered Species Act. The mussels, both of which have been unprotected "candidates" for the endangered species list since 2004, have declined precipitously due to water pollution, dams and mining.
Responding to the unprecedented extinction crisis that's already eroding the Southeast's freshwater ecosystems, the Center last year petitioned to federally protect 404 of the region's most imperiled freshwater species -- including the sheepnose and spectaclecase. The sheepnose has a five-inch-long yellow or brown shell and was commercially harvested for jewelry and buttons. The spectaclecase has a long, brown shell -- predictably, about the size of a eyeglass case.
Read our press release and learn about our Southeast Freshwater Extinction Crisis campaign and our Candidate Project.
State of the Union Address: The Good, the Bad and the Dirty
In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Barack Obama took a meaningful step forward in calling on Congress to eliminate billions of dollars of subsidies and tax breaks for oil companies. Unfortunately, in talking about clean energy, he included natural gas, nuclear power, biofuels and even coal -- which is always dirty (despite what Big Coal might say). And Obama's plans to increase "clean" electricity usage and have 1 million electric cars on the road by 2015 fall short of the immediate and dramatic steps we need to cut greenhouse gas pollution to 350 parts per million or fewer before it's too late.
"Converting oil subsidies to coal subsidies is like a dieter switching from cheeseburgers to milkshakes. It won't work," said Center for Biological Diversity Executive Director Kierán Suckling. "It's essential that coal-fired power plants be phased out as soon as possible if we're to avoid catastrophic, runaway global warming."
Read the Center's statement on the president's speech and learn more about energy and global warming.
Protection Sought for Iconic Salmon
No one ever said being a salmon was easy. They spend their early days young and vulnerable in a river, make an epic trip to the ocean as they grow larger and then return to freshwater to spawn and die. But lately, the chinook salmon in the Klamath River have faced a growing list of other obstacles: dams, logging, water withdrawals, disease and climate change. That's why today the Center for Biological Diversity and allies filed a scientific petition to protect the Klamath River's chinook salmon under the Endangered Species Act.
First and foremost, we seek protection for spring-run chinook, which live most of their lives in the Pacific Ocean and in spring return to the river, where they stay all summer without eating. Spring chinook were once the most abundant run of Klamath chinook but are now near extinction. Because of declines in all returning wild chinook, our petition seeks protection for fall-run chinook, too.
Check out today's press release.
Inhumane "Rattlesnake Roundups" Countered in Georgia
Every year, two counties in Georgia hold "rattlesnake roundups," where participants bring in as many snakes as they can catch in a year to be milked for venom, butchered and sold for meat and skin. But this year, the Center for Biological Diversity and partners sent a letter requesting that Georgia law agencies enforce state laws aimed at protecting wildlife, including laws requiring permits for exhibiting and importing wildlife.
Rattlesnake roundups have depleted the eastern diamondback rattlesnake in the Southeast -- where the snake is also being driven toward extinction by habitat loss and road mortality. Last January, the Center and allies called for the end of rattlesnake roundups in Georgia and urged the state to investigate the extent of gassing and destruction of gopher tortoise burrows to collect snakes.
Check out our press release and learn more about our campaign to outlaw rattlesnake roundups.
Feds Face Deadline for Protecting Walrus
After a petition and lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is fast approaching a deadline to decide whether to protect the Pacific walrus under the Endangered Species Act. All three members of the federal Marine Mammal Commission have endorsed protection.
The big-tusked, blubbery Arctic mammal is seriously threatened by global warming, which is melting the sea-ice habitat it needs for foraging and giving birth. In fact, summer sea ice has already receded enough to impede Pacific walruses' ability to dive for clams. Since the Fish and Wildlife Service didn't respond to the Center's 2008 petition, we sued, earning an agency agreement to review the walrus' status. That review should spur the Service to protect the walrus before it's too late.
Get more from KTUU News.
New York Times: Mountaintop Species in Danger
The polar bear is the ultimate animal icon of global warming's threat to life -- and for good reason. But scientists say that tens of thousands of smaller species in the tropics and on the mountaintops are just as vulnerable to climate change, and they'll make up most of the animals that will disappear.
A recent New York Times piece put the spotlight on some of the most warming-threatened but lesser-known species out there, including the American pika and San Bernardino flying squirrel, both of which the Center for Biological Diversity has petitioned to protect under the Endangered Species Act (among other mountaintop species). As temperatures rise, the pika, flying squirrel and many other high-elevation dwellers must move more and more upslope to survive in the habitat they've adapted to depend on. When they run out of higher elevations, they'll die -- so we need to act now.
Read more in The New York Times and sign up to be a Clean Air Act Advocate.
Wild and Weird:
The Secret Language of Prairie Dogs
Have you ever wondered what prairie dogs are saying when they chatter to each other all day long? It turns out they might be talking about you -- in some detail, in fact.
According to recent research, "Prairiedogese" is actually a lot more complicated than we thought. Not only do prairie dogs appear to distinguish between different kinds of predators when they call an alarm -- they even describe the predator, down to its color and size. In one experiment in which humans walked through their town, prairie dogs apparently called out, "Hey, here comes the tall human wearing blue!" and "Watch out for the short human wearing yellow!"
A professor at Northern Arizona University is learning prairie-dog language -- and you can try, too. Get more from National Public Radio, which also offers audio of actual prairie-dog speech (definitely the cutest language we know of).
Photo credits: eastern diamondback rattlesnake courtesy Flickr Creative Commons/Tad 20D; little brown bat with white-nose syndrome courtesy USFWS; elkhorn coral (c) Sean Nash; sheepnose by Dick Biggins, USFWS; Barack Obama courtesy Flickr Creative Commons/BlatantWorld.com; chinook salmon courtesy Flickr Creative Commons/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; eastern diamondback rattlesnake courtesy Flickr Creative Commons/gsbrown99; Pacific walrus by Bill Hickey, USFWS; American pika (c) Larry Master/MasterImages.org; prarie dog courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Asiir.
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