Center Continues Fight to Protect Northern Rockies Wolves
The Center for Biological Diversity and partners this morning filed another challenge to the congressional budget rider approved in April that stripped Endangered Species Act protection from wolves in Montana, Idaho and parts of Oregon, Washington and Utah. Last week, a federal judge reluctantly upheld the rider, saying he would have ruled it unconstitutional if it hadn't been for an earlier precedent set by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
So today, the Center took our fight to the Ninth Circuit in an appeal of the judge's decision. The reason: Although wolf numbers have grown in parts of the northern Rocky Mountains, their road to recovery remains long. And scientists, not politicians, should decide when species can come off the endangered list.
Read the breaking press release.
Five Southeast Fishes Earn Federal Protection
Five fish species in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee are now protected under the Endangered Species Act thanks to a landmark agreement between the Center for Biological Diversity and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The agency's announcement on Monday signaled important new protection for the straw-yellow Cumberland darter, a fish threatened by mountaintop removal and pollution; a catfish called the chucky madtom (only three of which have been sighted since 2000); the laurel dace, threatened by pollution from logging, coal mining, agriculture and rock removal; the rush darter, a medium-sized darter remaining in just two Alabama counties; and finally the small, sharp-snouted yellowcheek darter, most of whose original habitat was destroyed by a single Alabama dam.
The Center petitioned to protect four out of five of these fishes. Our settlement with the Fish and Wildlife Service last month pushed 757 species across the United States closer to Endangered Species Act protections, including more than 400 imperiled freshwater species like these in the Southeast.
Read more in the Lexington Herald-Leader and learn more about the Southeast freshwater extinction crisis and our 757-species settlement.
Petition Launched to Save Rare Alaska Wolf
To save Alaska's beautiful and imperiled Alexander Archipelago wolf, yesterday the Center for Biological Diversity and Greenpeace petitioned to protect it under the Endangered Species Act. The Alexander Archipelago subspecies of gray wolf, found only in the old-growth forests of southeast Alaska, dens in the root systems of large, ancient trees and primarily hunts Sitka black-tailed deer -- which depend on these same trees for survival. But a long history of unsustainable clearcutting on the Tongass National Forest and other lands has ravaged much of the wolf's habitat, while related road building makes the wolf vulnerable to hunting and trapping. This wild canine stands apart from other gray wolves due to its smaller stature and midnight-black (or very dark gray) coat.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service chose not to protect the Alexander Archipelago wolf in the 1990s based on wolf safeguards included in the Tongass Forest Plan -- safeguards that have not been enacted. "Unfortunately, the Forest Service seems more interested in kowtowing to the timber industry than in preserving our forests for future generations," said Center Alaska Director Rebecca Noblin.
Read more in our press release and learn about saving the Alexander Archipelago wolf.
Miami Blue Butterfly Gets Emergency Help
One of the rarest butterflies in the United States, the Miami blue, was granted emergency protection this week under the Endangered Species Act. Tuesday's announcement comes after a long fight by the Center for Biological Diversity, including a petition in January to get emergency help for the Miami blue and a notice of intent to sue in April to see that request through.
The one-inch, metallic-winged Miami blue butterfly -- whose adults live for just a few days -- is now estimated at only a few hundred individuals, with fewer than 50 adults recently counted. One of its last two populations (in Florida's Bahia Honda State Park) disappeared in 2010. The butterfly's dramatic decline is due to sprawl, fire suppression, pesticides, climate change and more.
The Miami blue is part of a historic agreement struck in July to speed protections for 757 species in all 50 states. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service initially agreed to make a decision on whether to protect the butterfly in 2012 but, laudably, took emergency action early to get this species urgently needed help.
Read more in The Miami Herald.
Jumping Mouse Earns Back Protections in Wyoming
The tiny and seriously threatened Preble's meadow jumping mouse hopped back on track toward recovery in Wyoming last week when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reinstated its protections in that state. The mouse's federal safeguards were removed in Wyoming in 2007, even though they remained in place in Colorado -- a situation created by a flawed Bush-era policy stating a species could be protected in one part of its range and not another.
But after a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies -- plus our work to get the bad Bush policy repealed -- a judge in July ruled that the mouse's Wyoming protections should be given back. That was the same month as our species settlement with the Service, which compelled it to move forward on properly protecting the jumping mouse and 756 others.
The Center's Tierra Curry calls the mouse "a special part of Wyoming's natural heritage." This small critter can jump four feet into the air with its powerful hind legs and communicate by drumming its long tail.
Read more in Wyoming's Star-Tribune.
New Battle Over Deadly Uranium Mining -- Last Chance to Match Gift
The Center for Biological Diversity's national fight to keep uranium mining from polluting pristine waters and landscapes is gaining steam in Colorado, Arizona and Utah. On Tuesday, Center staff and dozens of concerned citizens packed a public meeting in Telluride, Colo., to oppose the Department of Energy's uranium-leasing plans for 42 square miles of public land near the Dolores and San Miguel rivers. Even the Telluride Town Council and San Miguel County officials gave the feds an earful about it. (The Center is one of several groups suing over the leasing program, which prompted a new environmental review.)
Meanwhile, the Center's opposition to uranium mining around the Grand Canyon is going full tilt preparing for Congress to reconvene next month, when it will take up a radical Tea Party bill that would kill a proposed 20-year moratorium on new uranium mining on 1 million acres around the park. The ban is badly needed: Parts of Grand Canyon National Park are already so polluted from upstream uranium mining that the water isn't safe for drinking or swimming.
Read more about Tuesday's meeting in the Telluride Watch, and if you haven't already made a gift, please consider a generous gift to the Grand Canyon Defense Fund. This is our last chance to take advantage of a dollar-for-dollar match from one of our board members. We have fewer than five days to raise $15,000, and we need your help. Make your gift by Monday, Aug. 15 and it will be doubled, doing twice as much to take on uranium mining and protect the Grand Canyon.
Turtles Need International Protection -- Take Action by Aug. 15
The United States boasts more types of turtles than any other country. But our amazing turtle diversity is fast diminishing due to unregulated international trade. In fact, more than 12 million wild-caught freshwater turtles have been exported from the United States in the past five years, largely for food and medicinal markets in Asia.
Thankfully for turtles, there's a remedy: The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (or "CITES") can regulate turtle trade. But some of the most seriously imperiled American turtles aren't protected under the treaty -- including the diamondback terrapin, alligator snapping turtle, spotted turtle and map turtles. Only the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can propose these rare reptiles for lifesaving limits on trade, and the agency needs to hear from you by Aug. 15.
Take action now to protect six types of turtles in trouble from international trade. Then learn more about the Center for Biological Diversity's campaign to save freshwater turtles.
Center Calls on Obama to Halt Dangerous Fracking
The Center for Biological Diversity and scores of other groups on Monday sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to do all he can to halt the expansion -- largely unregulated -- of hydraulic fracturing. This dangerous natural-gas extraction technique involves injecting a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and toxic chemicals underground to break up rock formations and release methane gas -- which is contaminating groundwater, science suggests, across the country.
Big Oil and Gas has successfully lobbied to exempt this habitat- and drinking-water-fouling practice from several environmental laws. Our letter says the lack of federal protections for fracking poses "extreme and unnecessary risks to public health and the environment."
Read more in our press release.
Mountaintop Removal Linked to 60,000 Cancer Cases -- Help End It
In the latest connection unearthed between mountaintop-removal coal mining and alarming public-health trends, a new study shows that among the 1.2 million Americans living in mountaintop-removal counties in central Appalachia, an additional 60,000 cases of cancer are linked directly to the destructive, poisonous practice. The study comes on the heels of research revealing a damning connection between mountaintop removal and birth defects.
Mountaintop-removal mining blows the tops off entire mountains in the quest for coal -- then dumps the resulting toxic waste straight into waterways, where it pollutes groundwater and devastates ecosystems.
Read more in The Huffington Post and learn about the Center for Biological Diversity's campaign to end mountaintop removal. Then take action with us to demand a mountaintop-removal moratorium now.
Wild & Weird: Bird-beak Bodywork
You may have been treated to a relaxing massage with a hot stone, knot-unkinking elbows or even someone's bare foot. But how about with someone's schnoz?
As it turns out, some birds massage each other with their beaks -- and, according to a new British study focusing on green woodhoopoes, the practice reduces stress in both masseuse and subject. Subordinate birds especially enjoy beak rubdowns by birds higher on the social ladder, sinking into a happy stupor for some time after a session with someone dominant -- probably because the therapeutic touch from a higher-up makes them feel accepted and safe.
Still, bird massage therapists don't get paid -- so why do they seem to enjoy providing their services? Scientists aren't yet sure. But their blissed-out avian clients aren't making a peep of protest.
Read more in Discovery News.
Photo credits: Alexander Archipelago Wolf (c) Michelle Rogers; gray wolf courtesy USFWS; chucky madtom (c) Conservation Fisheries, Inc.; Alexander Archipelago wolf by John Hyde, Alaska Department of Fish and Game; Miami blue butterfly by Jaret C. Daniels, McGuire Center for Lepidoptera Biodiversity; Preble's meadow jumping mouse courtesy USFWS; Grand Canyon (c) Taylor McKinnon; alligator snapping turtle by Gary M. Stolz, USFWS; drinking water; mountaintop removal valley fill; green woodhoopoes courtesy Flickr Commons/LEO.
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