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Sea Turtles Rescued, Defended in Pacific

Under an agreement won by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies, fewer imperiled Pacific loggerhead sea turtles will perish on the deadly longlines of Hawaii's swordfish fishery. We sued after the feds dramatically increased the number of loggerheads that could be hooked in the longlines, upping the allowance from 17 to 46; our newly won court-ordered settlement caps the number at 17. Swordfish longline vessels drag up to 60 miles of fishing line loaded with as many as 1,000 baited hooks that entangle, maim and drown sea turtles and other marine life. Due to another Center petition, the National Marine Fisheries Service is now considering granting loggerheads more federal protection.

In other sea turtle news, the Center and friends filed a notice of intent to sue the Fisheries Service last Friday for failing to make a final decision on federally protecting "critical habitat" for leatherback sea turtles off the West Coast.

Read more on the Hawaii win in the Honolulu Star Advertiser and on the leatherback action in our press release. Then register for our Gulf Disaster strategy call -- which will happen tonight -- to help bring attention back to the leatherbacks, loggerheads and many other species that were harmed by the April 2010 BP oil spill.

Drilling Plans Halted in Polar Bear Habitat

Polar bears are getting a reprieve from offshore drilling in Alaska. Last week Royal Dutch Shell announced it won't move forward with plans to drill for oil in the polar bear's protected "critical habitat" in the Beaufort Sea, off the coast of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, this summer. The decision comes after persistent opposition from the Center for Biological Diversity and an outpouring of support from our members and online activists.

The decision marks the third time in recent years that Shell's plans to drill in the Beaufort have been put on hold, including 2007 plans overturned in court due to litigation by the Center and allies. Plans to drill in 2010 were suspended by the Interior Department after the Deepwater Horizon oil-spill disaster -- and rightly so, since the Arctic is one of the riskiest of all places to drill offshore. The Center is now calling on Interior to make Shell's delay permanent.

Get more from AFP.

NRA Demonizes Center on Magazine Cover; Your Help Needed

What do freedom and condemning millions of animals to a slow and painful death by lead poisoning have in common? Hmm -- nothing, perchance? Yet this month the National Rifle Association devoted the front cover of its Freedom 1st members-only magazine to attacking the Center's campaign to ban lead ammunition nationwide (lead shot is already banned in wetlands).

"Just when you thought lead ammo was safe (from activists), the Center for Biological Diversity sues the EPA" screeches the cover hysterically. To drive the point not-so-subtly home, the NRA stoops to craven anti-amphibianism with a picture of a bullfrog standing near a legal briefcase stamped with the letters CBD. (Note to the NRA: Our logo isn't a bullfrog. And who, exactly, thinks lead ammo is safe? Would that be condors or bald eagles? Or children eating lead-shot venison for dinner?)

The NRA is targeting the Center as Public Enemy Number One because it's used to winning and fears it may lose this spectacularly irrational battle. But we won't give up till we've replaced toxic lead ammunition with readily available nontoxic copper, steel and alloy alternatives. The lives of millions of wild animals depend on it.

The NRA has filed a legal motion to intervene in our lawsuit seeking to force the EPA to ban lead bullets, so we'll soon be squaring off with its lawyers in court. It's pulling out all the stops, badmouthing the Center, and devoting its high-powered lobbying machinery to preserve its "right" to unnecessarily poison our planet and wildlife with outdated, toxic lead ammo. Please help level the playing field by making a donation today to the Center's campaign to end the lead poisoning of America's wildlife once and for all.

Imperiled Pacific Walrus Passed Over for Protections

The Obama administration acknowledged Tuesday that the Pacific walrus in Alaska is clearly in trouble and deserves protection under the Endangered Species Act, but that it won't provide the walrus with the help it needs. In what's become a disturbing trend, the Interior Department put the walrus on an ever-growing "candidate" list, where it'll wait endlessly for protections.

Tuesday's decision was a response to a Center for Biological Diversity petition seeking federal protection for the Pacific walrus, which can grow up to 3,750 pounds and lives in waters off Alaska. Lately, global warming has taken a toll, robbing the animals of the sea-ice habitat they need to give birth, raise young and rest. The walrus can't wait much longer for federal aid. It joins more than 250 other "candidate" species seriously in danger of extinction -- and at the top of the Center's 2011 list of species to save.

Read more in The New York Times.

Catastrophic Bat Disease Spreads Yet Further

Just a week after being found in Indiana for the first time, the deadly bat disease white-nose syndrome has already been found in a new state, North Carolina -- evidence that the unprecedented malady is still spreading at heart-stopping speed. The fungus causing the disease has now been found in 16 states and two Canadian provinces, killing many more than a million bats and affecting nine species, including the endangered Virginia big-eared, Indiana and gray bats.

The threat of a massive bat extinction is growing every day. We're leading the fight to do everything we can to save these incredible flying mammals.

In January 2010, the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the federal government to close all public-land caves and abandoned mines in the lower 48 states to help stop the disease's spread -- but as a January 2011 Center report shows, the government hasn't yet stepped up as it needs to, and swiftly, especially to protect bats in western states.

Read more in our press release and learn about the Center's aggressive campaign to fight the most frightening wildlife disease in human memory.

100,000 Acres Protected for Southern California Species

Due to two suits by the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday designated more than 100,000 acres of protected "critical habitat" for Southern California's arroyo toad and thread-leaved brodiaea lily, both threatened by habitat destruction for development, among other pressures. Our suits overturn designations by the Bush administration, which tried to set aside fewer than 12,000 acres for the toad and a measly 597 acres for the flower.

Now the arroyo toad -- a plump-bodied, snub-nosed amphibian that burrows underground and encases itself in shed skin during harsh conditions -- will receive 98,366 protected acres in eight California counties. The beautiful, blue-flowered thread-leaved brodiaea, a native bulb associated with grasslands and seasonal pools, will receive nearly 3,000 acres.

Read more in the Los Angeles Times.

Overpopulation Means Human Strife, Species Harm -- Speak Out Now

This month is Global Population Speak Out, one of the best times to make your voice heard on the crucial issue of human overpopulation. Two recent articles, taken together, make an important but frightening case for taking action now: Too many people means not just a shortage of resources, but major conflict over who gets the remaining resources we're able to glean from our overburdened Earth. An editorial in The Christian Science Monitor worries about what our planet will look like when we hit our projected peak of 9.2 billion people in 2050 -- and where much of our food will come from. The editor's answer? Probably Africa. But in a New York Times article, we learn about the crisis Africa's people are already facing as foreign interests move in on their land. Even for developed countries, this article's subject is bad news: Outsourcing food production outsources (and increases) food insecurity.

Yet, what neither article mentions are the animals, plants and habitat that will be obliterated once 9.2 billion people are fighting over precious acres just to produce enough food to survive. When we bulldoze wildlands for agriculture -- whether it's U.S. prairie habitat for the giant Palouse earthworm or Mali habitat for lemurs and black rhinos -- it's the species that are the biggest losers. That's why the Center's taken the pledge to speak out this month, and every month, about human overpopulation and overconsumption.

Read more in The Christian Science Monitor and The New York Times. Then participate in the Global Population Speak Out this month.

Chronicle of Philanthropy: Center Dumps Mass Mail, Income Spikes

The Chronicle of Philanthropy -- one of the most authoritative news sources on nonprofits -- recently featured the Center's cutting-edge decision to drop inefficient, carbon-generating mass mail appeals as a membership recruiting tool.

According to the Chronicle: "Many charities are unable to find successful ways to recruit new donors other than direct mail appeals. But at least one group banished mass mailings altogether last year in favor of email solicitations, Web-site appeals, and other ways to find new donors online. . . . By the final weeks of 2010, [the Center's] first year without direct mail, the charity had raised $1 million more from individuals than the preceding year, an increase of 44 percent. . . . 'We are at the aggressive edge of the environmental movement and very action-oriented,' Mr. Suckling [the group's director] says. 'Internet fundraising thrives in an arena where there is constant action.' "

We couldn't have made this major leap of faith without your generous contributions online and willingness to help us every day to save polar bears, wolves, sea turtles, butterflies and lilies from extinction.

In the spirit of saving trees and carbon, getting the biggest bang for your buck, and supporting the most cutting-edge endangered species protection group around, please consider making a donation now to make 2011 another successful year.

Vote to Focus Arctic Journey on Global Warming

Want to help make sure the story of global warming in the Arctic gets told? Center ally Leslie Harroun has entered an international competition to journey to the North Pole as a blogger for Quark Expeditions. A writer, photographer and conservationist, Leslie is the only competitor who wants to use the journey (and her blogging) for a cause: to educate the world about the devastating effects climate change is already having on the Arctic landscape.

Thanks to more than 1,000 votes from people who believe in Leslie's goal, she's already among the top competitors; but she needs to be in the top five to make it to the Arctic.

Read Leslie's entry essay -- about an encounter with a brown bear in Russia -- and vote for her now. (If you aren't on Facebook, you can vote by filling in the registration information.) Then learn more about the Arctic meltdown.

Wild and Weird:
The "Alien War Movie" Beneath Our Feet

It's easy to love -- and want to protect -- species like wolves, turtles and flowers. But what about the wondrous world of subterranean creatures teeming within the soil the rest of us walk, crawl and grow on? A new study called "Buried Treasure: Soil Biodiversity and Conservation" explores the critical roles played by underground organisms both great and small, exposing the intricate dramas that take place between them to help terrestrial ecosystems function.

Surviving underground is no easy task; in fact, it's like a Lilliputian sci-fi war zone down there. Bacteria attack plant roots; plant roots send out reconnaissance-troop cells to glide through soil; protozoa scavenge for bacteria; and murderous fungi strangle and consume worms. Then there are the tardigrades, or water bears (also known as moss piglets): teeny-tiny invertebrates that can survive conditions unbearable for most other beings. Up close, they look a lot like eight-legged bears -- almost cute, if your tastes run that way.

Get the straight dirt on these soil-dwelling combatants in an interview with the study's author on the Mother Nature Network.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: magazine cover courtesy NRA; loggerhead sea turtle courtesy Flickr Creative Commons/Wendell Reed; polar bear courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Alan D. Wilson; magazine cover courtesy NRA; Pacific walrus by Bill Hickey, USFWS; little brown bat with white-nose syndrome courtesy Flickr Creative Commons/Gabrielle Graeter, NCWRC; thread-leaved brodiaea by David Bramlet; crowded beach courtesy iStock/mura; Mexican gray wolf (c) Robin Silver; Leslie Harroun; water bear courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Rpgch.

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