National Campaign Launched to Save America's Bats
Bats in North America face an unprecedented crisis with white-nose syndrome, the fast-moving disease that has already killed more than 1 million of the flying mammals in the eastern United States and threatens to spread coast-to-coast. Just this week, it showed up in Maine for the very first time.
That's why on Wednesday we launched a national campaign to raise awareness about the plight of North American bats and get the federal government to confront it with all the resources necessary to keep bats from extinction. This week we filed a notice of intent to sue the Obama administration for failing to protect bats from this mysterious and deadly fungal disease, which has moved into 19 U.S. states and four Canadian provinces since it was first observed in 2006. Now we need your help in taking action and speaking out about the bat crisis.
Read more about the Center's notice of intent to sue and visit our brand-new Save Our Bats website, where you can sign up to be part of the campaign, visit and share our Facebook page, and take action right now to tell the feds to step up and close caves to prevent white-nose's spread.
Lawsuit Seeks to Speed Bluefin Tuna Protections
Bluefin tuna, one of the most overfished species on the planet, don't have much time to lose. On Wednesday the Center for Biological Diversity filed a notice of intent to sue the feds for not moving fast enough to protect Atlantic bluefin. In May 2010 we filed a petition to protect bluefin under the Endangered Species Act, which allows the National Marine Fisheries Service one year to review the petition. Our suit is aimed at finally getting a decision on our petition so urgent bluefin protections can be put in place.
Bluefin are massive, warm-blooded fish that have been overfished for decades. The population has dropped by more than 80 percent because of industrial fishing -- and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in the tuna's prime spawning ground likely killed more than 20 percent of juveniles in the area. If bluefin stand a chance of surviving and finally recovering, the government needs to protect them fast.
Read more about the plight of this species and Canadian scientists' recent declaration that bluefin are endangered in the Center's new Ethicurean op-ed by Oceans Attorney Catherine Kilduff. Then sign our pledge to boycott bluefin tuna, share it on Facebook and tell your friends and family to do the same.
Legal Challenge Filed to Save Ancient Redwoods
California transportation officials are still trying to push through their controversial highway project that would destroy towering, old-growth redwoods in the state's treasured Richardson Grove State Park. So this week the Center for Biological Diversity and our partners made a third legal move against the plan -- adding oomph to the two lawsuits we've already filed by asking a federal judge to step in and put a stop to it. A motion on our request is scheduled for a hearing in San Francisco in early June.
Massive redwoods once covered 2 million acres of river valleys and hillsides from southern Oregon to Big Sur. Today just 3 percent of ancient redwoods remain. Aside from their stunning beauty, they provide crucial habitat for old-growth-dependent species like the marbled murrelet and spotted owl. But the California Department of Transportation wants to realign a section of Highway 101 that goes through Richardson Grove, causing irreparable damage to giant redwoods in the process, including severe harm to trees several feet in diameter -- and their thick, old roots, which would be cut and paved over. Our latest court action targets the transportation department for not fully evaluating the impacts this project will have on trees and local wildlife.
Read more in The Times-Standard.
Scholastic Withdraws Pro-coal Curriculum
For years, publisher Scholastic has distributed educational materials to about 90 percent of kids in U.S. classrooms, earning a reputation that should hold it to high standards when it comes to truthfully informing our children. But with Big Coal money behind it, Scholastic recently made a big misstep -- publishing a fourth-grade lesson packet that expounded on the "benefits" and power of dirty coal. The packet omitted any mention of the fossil fuel drawbacks that matter to those who will inherit our Earth -- like toxic waste, the destruction of mountains through mountaintop-removal mining and coal's huge contribution to runaway global warming.
Appalled at Scholastic's move, the Center for Biological Diversity and allies this month sent a letter to Scholastic demanding it stop spreading misleading, coal-industry-backed information to children about one of the most important issues of their time. Scholastic withdrew the packet before we even unleashed our full wrath (and that of our supporters).
Coal is bad for air, the climate, plants, animals and people -- including kids and their future. The scientific facts shouldn't be greenwashed in our schools.
Read more in this New York Times editorial.
Landmark $19 Billion Suit Against BP Moves Forward
Attorneys for the Center for Biological Diversity were back in federal court in New Orleans this morning to beat back BP's not-very-surprising attempt to toss out the $19 billion suit we filed against the company in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster. Our suit, filed in June 2010, says BP and Transocean violated the Clean Water Act by dumping millions of gallons of oil and other toxic pollutants into the Gulf last year. Under our suit -- the largest citizen suit ever brought under the Act -- BP could be liable for up to $19 billion; that money would go toward badly needed restoration efforts along the Gulf coast and in polluted wildlife habitat.
While there have been hundreds of lawsuits filed against BP since the Deepwater Horizon explosion, our case is the only citizen suit seeking penalties and relief under the Clean Water Act. The Gulf oil-spill disaster killed thousands of birds, sea turtles, dolphins and other wildlife, and scientists say it could be decades before the full extent of the damage is understood. In the meantime, with your continued support we'll keep fighting to hold BP and Transocean accountable for this catastrophe.
Check out our media advisory, learn more about our powerful work to make sure another spill like the Gulf disaster never happens again and consider making a donation to help this critical campaign.
Protection Sought for Imperiled Boreal Toads
To save one of the West's most imperiled warty amphibians, the Center for Biological Diversity and allies yesterday filed a scientific petition requesting that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service protect the boreal toad under the Endangered Species Act. Once common in the West, this toad has undergone dramatic declines over the past few decades -- especially in the southern Rocky Mountains, where the scary amphibian disease called chytrid fungus has wiped out most of its populations.
In response to a 1993 petition by the Biodiversity Legal Foundation (later incorporated into the Center), the Fish and Wildlife Service already once determined that southern Rockies boreal toads deserved protection. But instead of granting that protection, the agency put the toad on the "candidate list" in 1995, where it languished without federal safeguards. The Bush administration took it off the candidate list altogether in 2005. This unique, striped toad -- which can grow up to four inches and repels some predators with poisonous skin secretions -- can't wait any longer for Endangered Species Act protection. The Service has 90 days to respond to our new petition.
Read more in The Salt Lake Tribune.
Center Op-ed: Don't Abandon Great Lakes Wolves
People in the Great Lakes region should be honored and thankful that endangered gray wolves still live in their midst -- as Collette Adkins Giese, Minnesotan staff attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, declared she is in an opinion piece in this summer's issue of International Wolf Magazine. With Endangered Species Act protections, she points out, wolves in her state have grown in numbers and dispersed into Wisconsin -- even recently raising pups in the northern Lower Peninsula in Michigan. But science shows these wild canines are not recovered; they still face hybridization, disease and, if their Endangered Species Act protections are removed, "predator control" -- that is, killings -- by state wildlife agencies.
The recovery of the wolf on a larger, national scale is also far from complete. In fact, gray wolves now occupy just a small fraction of their historic range in the lower 48 states. So last year the Center filed a landmark petition to earn a recovery plan that would help restore them to many of the ecosystems they once roamed. But instead of giving all U.S. gray wolves the help they need, the Service has stripped protections for those in the northern Rockies and proposed doing the same thing to those in the Great Lakes.
Read the op-ed for yourself and learn more about our campaigns for Great Lakes wolves and wolves across the lower 48.
Saving Amphibians: The Newest Social Networking Fad
Amphibians around the world are disappearing, and nearly a third are threatened with extinction. To better understand and conserve these animals, scientists need more information on their locations. And what better way to get the right info from around the globe than through people like you?
This week the Center for Biological Diversity joined other conservation organizations to launch a Web-based social networking effort dubbed the Global Amphibian Blitz. The Blitz website allows amateur naturalists from around the world to submit their amphibian photographs, along with dates and locations. The site's lofty aim? To take a census of the world's amphibians and discover which species are still here, and where -- so we can make sure they stay here. With your help.
Help save frogs, toads and salamanders -- and have fun at the same time -- by submitting your observations to the Global Amphibian Blitz now. Then learn about the Center's own Amphibian Conservation campaign and get more about the Blitz from UC Berkeley.
Wild and Weird:
Jumping Roaches? Glowing Fungus? Meet the Most Curious Critters of the Year
You can't say this world isn't a weird, delightful place. Where else would you find a leech named after Tyrannosaurus Rex that was just removed from a man's nostril in Peru? Or miniscule mushrooms that glow with a creepy, yellowish-green light? (Not to mention a jumping roach and the beautifully bizarre pancake batfish.)
Yes, they've all made the International Institute for Species Exploration's top 10 list of the strangest, coolest, most curious creatures of 2010. The annual list is a way for the institute to highlight new species and the importance of biodiversity. Heck, what better ambassador is there for diversity than a fruit-eating lizard or a mushroom with gills?
Check out the list for yourself (don't miss the photos), and we'll start placing bets on who'll make the cut for next year's list.
Photo credits: bats courtesy Flickr Commons/Amyn Kassam; Save Our Bats logo by Kimberly Daly/www.dalysite.com; bluefin tuna courtesy NOAA; Richardson Grove; coal mine courtesy BLM; loggerhead sea turtle courtesy Flicrr Commons/Brian Gratwicke; boreal toad courtesy Flickr/J.N. Stuart; Great Lakes gray wolf courtesy Flickr/Sakarri; Sonora tiger salamander (c) Robin Silver; pancake batfish courtesy NOAA.
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