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New "7 Billion and Counting" Campaign Highlights Population Explosion, Species Extinction

Big news on the population front: The Center for Biological Diversity on Wednesday launched a new national campaign, 7 Billion and Counting, highlighting the connection between human overpopulation and the global extinction crisis. As part of the campaign, the Center is giving away 100,000 of its popular Endangered Species Condoms, urging activists around the country to host events and take action, and -- thanks to those who generously responded to our call for donations -- launching a huge video ad in New York City's Times Square.

The campaign comes at a critical moment. The world population is expected to hit 7 billion at the end of October, so there's never been a better time to get people around the country talking about how overpopulation affects imperiled plants and animals around the globe.

Learn more on our new 7 Billion and Counting Web page, find out how you can distribute Endangered Species Condoms and host your own 7 Billion event, watch our new Times Square ad and check out our new interactive map that lets you find out about endangered species where you live -- or anywhere else in the United States.

Rare California Plant Gets Fresh Shot at Survival

One of the world's rarest wild plants, San Francisco's Franciscan manzanita, is moving toward protection under the Endangered Species Act. This week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed listing the plant as an endangered species. That protection can't come fast enough: The manzanita is down to one plant in the wild.

The Center for Biological Diversity and allies petitioned the government in 2009 to protect the manzanita, a plant with a storied history. Determined botanists in 1947 stood in front of earth-movers at a construction site to salvage some of the last known wild plants to be preserved at botanical gardens. After that, the Franciscan manzanita was thought to be extinct in the wild for more than six decades -- until, in 2009, a single specimen was spotted growing along an off-ramp near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Read more in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Obama Dangerously Ditches Smog-reduction Plans

Reaching a new low on protecting public health and the environment from dangerous pollution, President Obama on Friday abandoned badly needed plans to reduce smog around the country. After intense lobbying by industry, the president commanded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw its draft of the "Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards." The standards, in the works for years, were meant to tighten Bush-era rules restricting ozone pollution -- standards that Obama's own EPA chief says are "legally indefensible."

The EPA's own data show that delaying the smog plans will cause more than 8,500 premature deaths, more than 45,000 cases of aggravated asthma, at least 1.5 million missed work or school days, and more than 5 million cases of citizens having to restrict their activities.

Read more in The Washington Post.

First Wolf Killed in Montana Archery Hunt

A wolf in Montana was killed in an archery hunt this week, the first animal in the state to be taken down this year by a hunter after Congress's unprecedented removal of gray wolves in Montana and Idaho from the endangered species list. Sadly, many more wolves are expected to be killed in upcoming hunts. More than 8,000 hunting licenses have been sold in Montana, where wildlife officials have agreed to let up to 220 wolves be hunted.

Wolves have a lot more to fear than hunters, though -- for instance, federal predator control. Idaho Game and Fish has already allowed the aerial shooting of several wolves in northern Idaho in the name of elk protection, which wouldn't have been permitted before congressional meddling removed federal protections. The Center for Biological Diversity will keep pushing to save wolves' lives, and we'll keep you updated.

Read more in the Billings Gazette.

Border Patrol Expansion Would Hurt Species, Wildlands

The Department of Homeland Security has put out a new analysis of the environmental effects of its work in the delicate desert lands along the U.S.-Mexican border. Unfortunately, the analysis completely fails to address the harm that will be done by Homeland's plans to triple the size of its military base in the desert near Arizona's Organ Pipe National Monument and Cabeta Prieta National Wildlife Refuge. Both areas have already been significantly hurt by off-road vehicle use in recent years -- including by Border Patrol vehicles riding roughshod over wilderness areas.

The Center for Biological Diversity is urging the Department to do a full environmental analysis of its activities, which threaten a broad range of endangered Southwest species, including Sonoran pronghorn. Says the Center's Cyndi Tuell, "Sonoran pronghorn are especially vulnerable to this kind of disruption, which can stop them from raising their fawns or getting enough to eat."

Check out our press release and learn more about our campaign to save Borderlands and Boundary Waters.

Appeal Filed to Protect Goshawk, Spotted Owl, Old-growth Trees

The Center for Biological Diversity on Tuesday appealed a timber sale in New Mexico's Lincoln National Forest that threatens sensitive and threatened wildlife like the northern goshawk and Mexican spotted owl.

The "Bonito" project would log and burn trees on more than 11,000 acres outside of Ruidoso. But the Forest Service's own assessment admits that the logging will remove more forest canopy habitat for the goshawk than is allowed. The agency also admits that it's allowing the cutting of some of the area's largest trees, even though the forest doesn't have enough old growth.

There are two other similar forest restoration projects in New Mexico that the Center isn't appealing; in the case of Bonito, it's clear the project needs to change before it moves ahead.

Read more in our press release.

Plan Will Help Restore San Francisco Golf Course to Wetland, Protect Rare Frogs

A proposal introduced this week by San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos would shift management of San Francisco's controversial Sharp Park golf course in Pacifica to the National Park Service's Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The move would put the park and its unique coastal wetlands on the path to restoration, improve recreation, help endangered California red-legged frogs and San Francisco garter snakes, better protect the area against sea-level rise wrought by climate change, and save city taxpayers money.

The legislation is good news, since the Center for Biological Diversity, Wild Equity Institute and friends have been working for years to reform management of the park, where declining conditions and ongoing Endangered Species Act violations have hurt wildlife, degraded habitat for endangered species and siphoned scarce city recreation funding away from other parks and recreation areas. Last March we filed a lawsuit with five partner groups against the San Francisco Park Department to stop illegal golf course activities that kill and harm snakes and frogs.

Read our press release, check out a Center FAQ sheet about the legislation, and learn more about our campaign to restore Sharp Park.

Candid Q & A: Saving Species Takes Muscle, Collaboration

So what does it take to save endangered species on a daily basis? Center for Biological Diversity Executive Director Kierán Suckling offers a glimpse in a candid interview in the fall issue of Earth Island Journal. The magazine lauds Suckling for his "combination of acerbic wit, lightning intelligence, and red-hot passion" and calls him a "rhetorical pugilist who knows that it takes muscle to win arguments...usually flattening his adversaries from the logging, mining, and fossil fuel industries."

But it's all about having a strong negotiating position, according to Suckling. And despite the Center's maverick reputation, the lion's share of our work is done through collaboration -- whether with other public-interest groups or government agencies.

"At this very moment we're working in 30 different coalitions, whether it's dealing with pesticide spraying, lead bullets, protection of wolves, or the EPA regulating greenhouse gases...Here’s a thing a lot of people don't realize: The great majority of [our] legal victories have come through settlement agreements and have not come through court orders." Witness our recent settlement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, designed to expedite protection decisions for 757 of the country's most vulnerable plants and animals.

Read the interview in the Earth Island Journal.

Wild & Weird: Female Zebra Finch Seeks Gutsy Guy for Good Times

A new study by researchers from the University of Exeter, in the United Kingdom, shows that in the world of zebra finches, it's all about the personality. According to the study, which assessed personality traits in 150 finches, adventurous females choose mates with similar personalities -- regardless of the males' fancy feathers, body size, beak color or other physical (dis)advantages. More adventurous females, said the study, are more likely to favor more outgoing and confident males.

The study is apparently is the first to show that the nonsexual behavior -- er, personalities -- of both mates influences partner choice in species other than humans. We're not surprised; we knew those birds weren't all about the booty.

Read more in Science Daily.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: Franciscan manzanita courtesy USFWS; 7 Billion and Counting logo; Franciscan manzanita courtesy USFWS; New York City smog courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Dr. Edward P. Ewing, Jr.; gray wolf courtesy Flickr Commons/francoismi; Sonoran pronghorn by Jim Hedrick, NPS; northern goshawk courtesy USFWS; California red-legged frog (c) Colin Brown; Kierán Suckling; female zebra finch courtesy Flickr/ressaure.

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