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839 Species Move Toward Protection

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week agreed to a legal settlement that might result in federal protection for 839 plants and animals spiraling toward extinction. The agreement could lead to final protection decisions for 251 species that have been stuck on the federal warranted-but-precluded "candidate" list, many for decades; the Center for Biological Diversity filed scientific petitions to list 192 of these. It may also spur the Fish and Wildlife Service to process listing petitions for 588 additional species, of which the Center petitioned and/or filed suit to protect 511. In all, the Center's endangered species campaign brought 84 percent of all the species included in the agreement to this point of protection.

The species include the Rio Grande cutthroat trout and yellow-billed cuckoo, which the Center petitioned to protect in 1998 and has filed multiple lawsuits over; the Pacific fisher, which we petitioned to protect in 2000; the yellow-billed loon and Kittlitz's murrelet, which we petitioned for in 2001 and 2004; and the Oregon spotted frog, which we petitioned to protect in 2004.

Unfortunately, while the Center was working to reach a better, more certain agreement, the Fish and Wildlife Service secretly convinced another conservation group, which had petitioned for very few of the species, to sign this weaker deal, full of loopholes and containing harmful language that will help the agency reject the protection of other equally imperiled species in the future. The Center is considering options to fix the flawed agreement and ensure that the species we pushed this close to protection are actually brought over the finish line.

We'll keep you updated in the coming weeks on our efforts to secure full protection for these species. Thank you for your vital help and support getting these rare, important plants and animals this far.

House Approves Dangerous Offshore-drilling Expansion

A little more than a year after the explosive beginning of the Gulf of Mexico oil-spill disaster, Congress is moving dangerously backwards -- and fast -- on steps to prevent another catastrophe.

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill expanding offshore oil and gas drilling -- drilling that, just like BP's Deepwater Horizon, is insulated from meaningful environmental review. The bill would reverse the federal government's decision to cancel a lease sale in the Atlantic and leave new areas in the Gulf of Mexico and off the East Coast vulnerable to another massive oil spill. Then, on Wednesday, the House approved legislation that would speed up approval on new offshore drilling in the Gulf -- making environmental review even easier to sidestep -- and began debating a separate measure that would open vast new areas to drilling. The same day, the feds approved plans by Shell Oil to drill in five deepwater sites in the Gulf.

As outlined in a recent Center for Biological Diversity report, we need more offshore regulatory reforms -- not new measures to help Big Oil put people, wildlife and habitat at risk of another disastrous spill. We're calling for an end to all new offshore drilling until the federal government can guarantee our safety.

Read more in the Huffington Post and Law360.

Republicans Attack Mexican Wolves in Congress

Just as endangered Mexican gray wolves are finally about to earn an updated recovery plan -- long sought by the Center for Biological Diversity -- members of Congress have put these badly struggling Southwest wolves in their crosshairs. With Mexican wolf numbers in the wild at only around 50, the animal badly needs a federal roadmap laying out precise steps to move it away from extinction; its old plan is from 1982. Last year there were just two breeding pairs in the wild. This key top-of-the-food-chain species is critically imperiled by inbreeding, continued persecution and mismanagement.

Largely in response to two Center petitions, in 2011 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began the essential recovery-plan update. But this week members of the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a bill that would hand Mexican wolf management to Arizona and New Mexico -- circumventing and rendering irrelevant the long-awaited recovery plan and requiring only that the states allow 100 wolves to survive. Scientists and the government acknowledge that a population of just 100 wolves wouldn't be viable.

The Center has defended Mexican wolves since 1990, when we initiated their reintroduction to the wild with a lawsuit. We won't let their recovery be compromised now.

Check out our press release and learn more about our Mexican gray wolf campaign.

Southwest Frog Defended From Open-pit Copper Mine

The Southwest's stocky, charcoal-spotted Chiricahua leopard frog now inhabits less than 20 percent of its former range -- yet in the feds' new proposal for protecting its much-needed remaining habitat, areas important for the frog's recovery are glaringly absent. The Center for Biological Diversity filed comments Thursday to remedy that.

Long threatened by grazing, disease, groundwater pumping and pollution, the Chiricahua leopard frog is now imminently threatened in southern Arizona's Santa Rita Mountains, where the proposed Rosemont open-pit copper mine could obliterate the sensitive amphibian. The mine site was left out of the feds' proposal for protected "critical habitat" even though frogs live there, making the area critical to protect. Worse, the feds' proposal downplays scientific evidence that the frog's northern populations may be a different species, meaning that southern populations -- like those in the Santa Ritas -- may be even rarer than previously thought.

Read more in our press release and learn about our campaign to save the Chiricahua leopard frog.

Corporation Called Out on Dam Devastation in Panama

The Center for Biological Diversity joined human-rights, community and environmental activists across the globe this spring in confronting the AES Corporation over its massive river-dam project in Panama -- and the company's failure to follow through on promises that it will compensate residents for the major harm it will cause.

The Virginia-based corporation's "Chan 75" project will dam the pristine Changuinola River in western Panama, the lifeblood of World Heritage Site La Amistad International Park and the only water source for numerous endangered species, not to mention local human communities. The project, one of three AES hydroelectric dams and reservoir projects planned for the area, will flood thousands of acres and destroy the homes of hundreds of Ngöbe people. Although the Center confronted AES at its last shareholders' meeting, AES is still failing to move forward on its crucial commitments. We're now working with Harvard Law School's International Human Rights Clinic to make sure the corporation respects the human rights of those in its destructive project's path.

Get the scoop on AES's bad conduct in our press release and learn more about the La Amistad dam projects.

Scientists Declare Bluefin Tuna Endangered -- Join Our Bluefin Boycott

The list of those who say bluefin tuna urgently need protection continues to grow. This week a committee of Canadian scientists and government representatives  declared that the bluefin should be listed as an endangered species; we couldn't agree more. Last year the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned to have the Atlantic bluefin protected under the Endangered Species Act. In November, after international regulators failed to take action, we launched a nationwide boycott of bluefin.

One of the most remarkable marine creatures in the world, the warm-blooded bluefin tuna is a fierce ocean predator, can reach up to 10 feet in length and 1,200 pounds in weight, and can swim at up to 50 miles per hour, crossing the ocean in just weeks. But it can't outswim overfishing, which is driving it extinct at alarming rates, and the BP Gulf oil spill has helped make Atlantic bluefin more endangered than ever.

If you haven't already, join more than 30,000 activists in the Center's Bluefin Brigade by pledging not to eat bluefin or support restaurants that serve it -- and don't forget to spread the word by liking and sharing the page on Facebook. Then get details on our Bluefin Boycott, the Atlantic bluefin tuna and the bluefin developments in Canada.

U.N. Report: 10 Billion People by Century's End

It looks like our planet's about to get a lot more crowded even faster than we thought. A sobering new report by the United Nations predicts the global human population will hit 10 billion by the end of this century. (Earlier estimates figured the world's population would top out around 9 billion by 2050.)

The U.N. report adds to the urgency of addressing the global human overpopulation crisis now. Simply put, there's no way the Earth can support that many people and still sustain all of its other species. The more people we add –- and the more consumption that results -– the deeper the trouble for plants and animals already struggling to escape extinction. Stabilizing the world's population won't happen without important changes, including access to family planning and contraception.

That's why the Center for Biological Diversity launched our campaign to address human overpopulation three years ago and continues to expand education and advocacy efforts. Projects such as our Endangered Species Condoms are spreading awareness about the relationship between unsustainable human population growth and the devastating extinction crisis.

Stay tuned for news soon on this important campaign. Meanwhile, read more about our overpopulation work; sign up for Pop X, our monthly overpopulation newsletter (and share it on Facebook); and read about the U.N. report in The New York Times.

25,000 Comments Help Save Frogs, Ban Toxin -- Thanks, and Keep 'Em Coming

In recognition of Save the Frogs Day April 29, the Center for Biological Diversity called on supporters to help us demand a ban on atrazine, the most commonly used herbicide in the United States and one of the most harmful to sensitive amphibians and other wildlife. Since then more than 25,000 of you sent emails to the Environmental Protection Agency requesting it reevaluate and ban the chemical, based on atrazine's significant effects on California red-legged frogs, boreal toads and other species (including humans).

Those emails, along with thousands of others and a massive Save the Frogs Day rally in Washington, D.C., raised the public profile of this critical issue and put the EPA on notice that it's time to follow the science and finally ban this toxic chemical.

Thanks so much for speaking out for frogs and other sensitive creatures harmed by atrazine. But the EPA still needs to be pushed as hard as possible to ban it. Take action with the Center now and encourage friends to join you; learn more about our campaign against toxic pesticides.

Take Action -- Defend Grand Canyon From Motorized Mayhem

The Kaibab Plateau -- the iconic "sky island" forming the Grand Canyon's North Rim -- is home to mountain lions, endangered California condors, northern goshawks and the Kaibab squirrel, a tree squirrel found nowhere else on Earth. Yet the U.S. Forest Service is proposing to threaten all these species -- plus the beautiful habitat they share with quiet recreationists -- by sacrificing the area to damaging off-road vehicle use.

Take action with the Center for Biological Diversity now by telling the Forest Service to choose a travel-management plan safe for the Kaibab Plateau's sensitive ecosystem. Then learn more about the Center's campaign for responsible travel-management planning.

Wild and Weird: Will + Kate + "Acorn" = Waddling Wedded Bliss

Since their media-blitzed wedding late last month, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (a.k.a. Prince William and Kate Middleton) have already become proud parents . . . to a baby penguin.

As a wedding present from the Chester Zoo, Will and Kate were granted the 12-month adoption of Acorn, a just-hatched endangered Humboldt penguin. The zoo held an online vote as to which of its 400 species should be adopted, and the penguin easily won. No, the future king and queen of England won't take the baby bird home for bottle-feeding, but they'll sponsor it throughout its chickhood -- and the zoo hopes they'll extend the adoption next May.

What better wedding present could a royal ask for? A baby penguin beats a waffle iron any day.

Get more from BBC News, watch a video of the German chancellor feeding her own adopted Humboldt chick (do we detect a trend?) and learn about the Center for Biological Diversity's campaign to save Humboldts and other needy penguins.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: Pacific fisher courtesy Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife; Kittlitz's murrelet (c) Glen Tepke; oil drilling platform courtesy Flickr Commons/oskar karlin; Mexican wolf by Jim Clark, USFWS; Chiricahua leopard frog by Jim Rorabaugh, USFWS; La Amistad International Park courtesy Wikimedia Commons/DirkvdM; bluefin tuna courtesy NOAA; crowd courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Dr. John Kelley, NOAA; California red-legged frog; Grand Canyon by Edward McCain; Humboldt penguin courtesy Flickr Commons/doevos.

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