Southwest Wolf Attack Stalls, But All U.S. Wolves in Danger -- Take Action
In a victory -- however temporary -- for the Southwest's most endangered wild canine, ranchers and counties this Tuesday withdrew from a lawsuit meant to get Mexican gray wolves out of New Mexico. The suit asked the federal government to remove endangered Mexican wolves from the wild because of a few cattle depredations -- even though the most recent count finds that only 52 Mexican gray wolves and just two breeding pairs survive in the United States. The withdrawn lawsuit (in which the Center for Biological Diversity and allies defended the wolves) was the third unsuccessful suit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service aimed at undermining the Mexican wolf recovery program. Unfortunately, it won't be the last: The anti-wolf plaintiffs can refile a similar suit anytime.
Meanwhile, several anti-wolf bills have been introduced in Congress to strip safeguards from gray wolf populations across the country. One of them would not only facilitate wolf slaughter but actually leave in place no obstacle to the killing of every single U.S. gray wolf. And this bill, by allowing Congress to legislatively remove gray wolves' protections, would set a dangerous precedent for future congressional meddling with endangered species' protections -- attacking the very core of the Endangered Species Act.
Read more about the Mexican wolf case in our press release, learn about the Center's campaign to restore wolves nationwide and take action now to ask your senators to oppose anti-wolf legislation.
Wildlife Saved From ORVs on Millions of Mojave Acres
Good news for a huge chunk of California's Mojave Desert and the wildlife that live there: In response to a challenge by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies, a federal judge on Saturday ordered the Bureau of Land Management to redo its plans for off-road vehicle use on millions of acres of public land in the Mojave. The court ruled that the BLM's Bush-era West Mojave Plan violated several laws by favoring ORVs over sensitive desert resources, including endangered species like the speedy, sand-diving Mojave fringe-toed lizard.
The BLM will now be required to carry out protections for wildlife, water and air quality -- and make its new plans accordingly. The judge also told the agency to reconsider cattle-grazing designations in light of their effect on sensitive desert soils.
Read more in the Desert Dispatch.
Deadly Bat Disease Hits Indiana -- Help Stop It
The devastating march of white-nose syndrome -- which has already killed more than a million bats in the eastern United States -- has moved into new territory. Wildlife officials in Indiana confirmed this week that the white-nose fungus was found on two dead bats in the southern part of the state. The fungus has already been found in 14 other states and two Canadian provinces, and biologists worry it's going to continue to spread and ravage bat populations for a fifth deadly winter. The latest discovery is especially alarming because Indiana is the stronghold of the Indiana bat, federally protected as endangered. This medium-sized, brown-furred bat was showing signs of recovery -- until white-nose first popped up in 2006.
The Center for Biological Diversity is pulling out all the stops to fight white-nose's westward spread and protect all bats from the syndrome. In addition to pushing hard on the feds to fight the disease, we're working to earn federal protections for three bat species.
Check out our press release, learn more about our extensive efforts against white-nose and read our brand-new report on western bats' danger. Then take action to help get western caves closed to stem the spread of white-nose.
Clean Air Act Attacked -- Fight Back
As expected, several members in the new Congress are declaring war on some of the United States' most important environmental laws. This week, in the first of many expected assaults on our most valuable legislative tools to fight global warming, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) introduced a bill that would strip from the Clean Air Act -- as well as several other bedrock environmental laws -- almost their entire ability to regulate greenhouse gases. If allowed, the Clean Air Act can work with tried-and-true air-pollution reduction programs to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide to the level science says is necessary to avoid catastrophic global warming: 350 parts per million.
In fact, in no small part helped by work by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies, the Environmental Protection Agency is already beginning to use the Act to reduce greenhouse pollution from vehicles, power plants, refineries and other smokestack polluters. Said the Center's Kassie Siegel: "The Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act and other laws are the safety net that protect our children's future. Senator Barrasso must not be allowed to shred that safety net just to please the country's largest polluters."
Read more in The New York Times, pledge to be a Center Clean Air Advocate and take action to save the Clean Air Act. Then check out our new "Myth vs. Reality" Clean Air Act factsheet.
Study: Toxic Dispersants Remain in Gulf
More than nine months after the oil-spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, there's a good chance that the toxic chemical dispersant dumped into the Gulf by BP -- to the tune of nearly 800,000 gallons -- is still around. A recent study shows that a major component of the dispersant, which was supposed to help dissolve the spilled oil, was contained within an oil-and-gas-laden plume in the deep ocean and still hadn't degraded some three months after it was applied. The news warrants toxicity studies to determine the dispersant's possible effects on ocean wildlife like corals and tuna.
The Center for Biological Diversity has filed a notice of intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency for allowing the use of toxic dispersants after the BP spill without ensuring the chemicals wouldn't harm endangered species. We also gave notice of a suit against the feds for recently rubberstamping the use of dispersants harmful to wildlife in their oil-spill response plans for Alaska.
Read more in Science Daily.
Suit Filed Over N.M. Coal Pollution
The Center for Biological Diversity and allies on Monday sued the federal Office of Surface Mining for failing to protect New Mexico's San Juan River ecosystem -- and the people who depend on it -- from dirty coal. Besides containing critical habitat for two of the West's most endangered fish species, the Colorado pikeminnow and razorback sucker, the iconic river provides drinking water to tens of millions of people on the Navajo Nation in New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, California and Mexico. Yet the feds are allowing coal mining, coal combustion and the disposal of tens of millions of tons of coal-combustion waste just miles from the San Juan, turning a blind eye while the river is polluted with mercury, selenium and other deadly toxins.
Sixty-four percent of the San Juan's Colorado pikeminnow -- large, long-bodied green fish -- are now so contaminated with mercury as to be reproductively impaired. Similarly, reproduction of the humpbacked, yellow-bellied razorback sucker could be impaired in 40 percent of the fish's population in the river. Our lawsuit aims to stop the toxic contamination for the sake of people, fish and the entire river ecosystem.
Read more in Farmington's Daily Times.
Polar Bear Swims Nine Days to Find Ice
Almost every week, it seems, there's a new story about species' struggle to survive the perils of global warming. The latest is the heartwrenching story of a mother polar bear who swam for nine days straight in search of sea ice off the coast of Alaska. Because of the 426-mile journey, which was documented by scientists, the bear lost 22 percent of her body fat. She also lost her yearling cub, which set out on the same journey but drowned before they reached their destination.
Polar bears are known to journey between land and sea ice to hunt seals, but with climate change already melting the Arctic, ice floes are shrinking, getting farther from each other and from land, and disappearing altogether. Without sufficient ice for hunting and resting, polar bears will continue to drown. And it will get much worse if we don't protect them from climate change now -- which the feds have refused to do.
Read more in the Los Angeles Times and learn about the Center for Biological Diversity's decade-long fight to save the polar bear.
Join the Global Population Speak Out
Have something to say about the world's burgeoning human population? This is the month to let your voice be heard. Feb. 1 marked the beginning of the third annual Global Population Speak Out, a month-long, worldwide effort by activists, academics and concerned citizens to raise the profile of human overpopulation and its impacts on the Earth's plants and animals. Unsustainable human population growth threatens many species around the world as we commandeer land, water and other resources to fuel our ever-growing levels of consumption. The solutions to this problem are obvious -- increased access to birth control and family planning, along with the educational, economic and political empowerment of women worldwide -- but to make them a reality, more people must speak out for change.
The Center for Biological Diversity is an enthusiastic participant in the Speak Out again this year, and we urge you to join us. Taking action could be as simple as writing a letter to the editor, calling a radio show or petitioning your elected representatives to increase funding for family-planning services.
Just make a pledge and list your action on the GPSO website. Then sign up to receive Pop X, the Center's monthly e-newsletter on overpopulation and extinction.
Review the Center -- Help Us Win $5,000
Remember all the great reviews you've been posting for the Center for Biological Diversity on the nonprofit rating site GreatNonprofits? Now reviews like those could turn into cash -- $5,000 of it, no less -- to go straight toward the Center's work to save species and habitat. GuideStar USA, the leading source of nonprofit information, and KIMBIA, a group that empowers organizations to increase giving, are offering a $5,000 grand prize to the group that earns the most positive supporter reviews during the month of February.
Not only will your review allow the Center a chance at the prize -- it'll also show others the important impact we're making (and give us an ego boost).
Review us on GuideStar or GreatNonprofits before midnight on Feb. 28.
Wild and Weird:
"Lonesome George" the Tortoise Holds Out Hope for True Love (Watch Video)
With little time to spare before Valentine's Day, this year Lonesome George -- the last known Pinta Island giant Galápagos tortoise -- was introduced to two new lovely lady tortoises of a related subspecies in the hopes they'll help George produce an heir. After shunning the fairer sex for the better part of a century (he's now nearly 100 years old), the longtime bachelor was finally tempted to mate in 2008, but the resulting eggs never hatched. Scientists hope that by mating with the two newly delivered female tortoises, Lonesome George -- already dubbed the "world's rarest living creature" -- will also, finally, become the world's oldest new babydaddy.
For your sake, George, we hope one of your lucky blind dates is the One.
Read more in the UK Telegraph. Then, if you don't feel uncomfortable, watch this video of keepers attempting to get George to mate.
Photo credits: Lonesome George courtesy Flickr Creative Commons/David Cook Wildlife Photography; gray wolf courtesy Flickr Creative Commons/Sakarri; Mojave finge-toed lizard (c) Brad Alexander; Indiana bat by Dr. J. Scott Altenbach, Maryland Department of Natural Resources; smokestacks courtesy NASA; staghorn coral (c) Sean Nash; razorback sucker by Mark Fuller, USFWS; polar bear (c) David S. Isenberg; crowd courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Katrin Kominiak; logo courtesy GuideStar; Lonesome George courtesy Flickr Creative Commons/David Cook Wildlife Photography.
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