374 Southeast Species Move Toward Protection
There's new hope for some of the most imperiled freshwater species in the Southeast -- species like the Florida sandhill crane, the Alabama map turtle and even the unsung Waccamaw fatmucket. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Monday found that Endangered Species Act protection may be warranted for 374 species in 12 southeastern states. The Service's decision follows a 2010 petition by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies and is part of our landmark agreement, reached this summer, that moves protection decisions forward for 757 of the country's most imperiled, least protected species.
The 374 species include 89 species of crustaceans, like the beautiful crayfish; 81 plants; 78 mollusks; 51 butterflies, moths and other insects; 43 fish; 13 amphibians; 12 reptiles; four mammals; and three birds. All these species are threatened by forces that have altered the region's waterways, such as dams, pollution, sprawl, poor agricultural practices, invasive species and a warming climate.
Read more in The New York Times and in a Huffington Post op-ed on the decision by Center Executive Director Kierán Suckling.
Settlement Requires Action on Protecting 82 Corals
On Tuesday the Center for Biological Diversity and the National Marine Fisheries Service reached an important agreement that will move 82 species of coral closer to protection. The agreement, following a 2009 petition and two notices of intent to sue by the Center, requires the Service to make decisions on protecting 82 U.S. corals -- including the mountainous star coral, blue rice coral and several Acropora corals -- under the Endangered Species Act by April 15, 2012. The Center has already earned protection for elkhorn (another Acorpora species) and staghorn corals.
Scientists warn that by mid-century, coral reefs will likely be the first worldwide ecosystems to collapse due to carbon dioxide pollution, which causes both global warming and ocean acidification. Global warming leads to coral bleaching, which happens when too-warm temperatures make corals expel the beautiful algae that gives them their color and life. Ocean acidification occurs when seas absorb CO2 and become more acidic, eroding the hard shells that animals like corals need to survive.
Read more in The Houston Chronicle and learn more about our campaign to save the world's corals.
Mississippi Gopher Frog Gets Big Jump in Protected Habitat
In response to pressure from the Center for Biological Diversity and others, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week proposed to triple the area of protected "critical habitat" for the endangered Mississippi gopher frog. Including areas in both Mississippi and Louisiana -- and stemming from a 2007 lawsuit by the Center -- critical habitat expanded from 1,957 acres to 7,015 acres.
A stubby, black-speckled amphibian with warty ridges along its back, the Mississippi gopher frog is most imperiled by destruction of habitat due to urbanization and agriculture. Its sole viable population is currently threatened by plans to develop a new town of as many as 35,000 people -- which the Center is now negotiating over after filing a notice of intent to sue state and federal agencies to save the frog.
Read more in The Republic.
Hawaii Birds Saved From Collision Deaths
After years of work by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies, Hawaii's Kauai Island Utility Cooperative has committed to enacting vital, on-the-ground measures to protect Newell's shearwaters from deadly collisions with its power lines.
The utility had previously refused to take responsibility for its power lines and disorienting lights that were killing and injuring nearly 200 shearwaters a year, contributing to the endangered seabirds' decline by 75 percent from 1998 to 2008 on the island of Kauai. The Center and allies, represented by Earthjustice, filed suit against the cooperative but dropped the suit this week after it agreed to take steps to help this unique, black-and-white bird, which is known locally as the a‘o for the moan-like call it emits when in its burrow.
"Getting the utility to commit to taking vital steps to protect Newell's shearwaters is a significant step in the right direction, but actions speak louder than words," said Center conservation director Peter Galvin. "We're going to keep close tabs on KIUC to make sure it lives up to its promises."
Read more in The Maui News.
100,000 Endangered Species Condoms En Route to 50 States
What's the best way to get people talking about the world population hitting 7 billion this fall? It's hard to beat the Center for Biological Diversity's Endangered Species Condoms. This week we started sending out 100,000 of our free, specially packaged contraceptives to 1,200 volunteer distributors across the country. The packages feature colorful images of endangered species and draw attention to the link between species extinction and unsustainable human population growth with slogans like "Wrap with care, save the polar bear" and "Wear a jimmy hat, save the big cat."
This round of condoms is part of the Center's new national campaign called 7 Billion and Counting, which highlights the 7 billionth human milestone expected on Oct. 31. In the coming weeks, the condoms will be distributed at events around the country hosted by college students, grandmothers, healthcare providers, religious leaders, musicians and activists.
Learn about some of the coolest (and wackiest) events in our press release, read this insightful interview with the Center's Overpopulation Coordinator Amy Harwood, and check out our 7 Billion and Counting campaign page, where you can learn how to host your own event.
Lawsuit Launched to Force Study of Oil Dispersants' Toxic Effects
The Center for Biological Diversity and allies this week filed a notice of intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency for authorizing the use of toxic oil dispersants without ensuring that these chemicals won't harm endangered species or their habitats. With the EPA's OK, more than 2 million gallons of the dispersant Corexit (banned in the United Kingdom) were dumped into the sea during last year's Gulf of Mexico BP oil-spill disaster. The same toxic chemical could be used in response to the next spill anywhere in U.S. waters -- even though studies have found that oil broken apart by the dispersant Corexit 9527 damages seabird feathers' insulating properties more than untreated oil.
The Center's notice urges the EPA to immediately study oil dispersants' environmental effects -- including effects on polar bears and walruses in the Arctic; sea turtles, endangered whales, piping plovers and corals in the Gulf; and salmon, sea birds, and sea turtles in the Pacific. "The Gulf of Mexico disaster was a wake-up call on the inadequacy of oil-spill response technology being used now," said Center attorney Deirdre McDonnell. "When the next spill happens, the government needs to ensure that these dispersants don't do more harm than good to wildlife and endangered species."
Read more in our press release and check out our new toxics Web page.
Wolf Kill Order Could Destroy Oregon's Alpha Pack -- Take Action
A plan to kill two wolves for preying on livestock could spell the end for one of the few wolf packs in Oregon -- and the first-ever pack to establish itself after gray wolves were exterminated in the state. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife intends to kill two of the four remaining members of the Imnaha pack -- including the alpha male, pictured here -- which was the first pack to breed successfully in Oregon after gray wolves began to move back there from Idaho in the '90s.
Although Congress stripped Endangered Species Act protections from gray wolves earlier this year, wolves in eastern Oregon retain a tentative foothold on survival. The Imnaha pack is critical to wolf recovery in Oregon and for restoring balance to Oregon's forests. It's time to tell Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber to pardon these wolves before it's too late.
Take action now to help save the Imnaha pack. Then get more from Oregon Public Broadcasting and learn about the Center's campaign to restore the gray wolf to all suitable U.S. habitat.
Threatened Island Speaks Out Against Climate Change; U.S. Harmfully Mum
The Pacific island nation of Palau has announced it will urgently seek an "advisory opinion" from the United Nations on whether some polluting countries have a legal responsibility to ensure that their greenhouse gases don't harm other countries. Under international law, Palau points out, states are required to take all necessary measures to stop their activities from harming other states.
Call it yet another wake-up call for the United States -- but we're not holding our breath. Despite mounting evidence that the climate crisis is only deepening, the U.S. has failed to make significant strides in reducing carbon dioxide emissions and, in fact, some in Congress are pushing to weaken the Clean Air Act rather than harness it to do what's needed to reduce greenhouse pollution and avert the worst effects of the global climate crisis. The United States should think not only of its own health, climate and species, but those of countries whose very existence is imminently threatened by climate change.
Get more from the UN and take action against climate change in your town through the Center for Biological Diversity's Clean Air Cities campaign.
Wild & Weird: Toads Devoured by Own Lunch
Young toads everywhere have a new excuse not to eat that healthy larva on their dinner plates: The larva may in fact eat them.
In a study out of Tel Aviv University, researchers placed green toads with the larvae of two species of beetles. In the worst-case scenario (for the toad), a larva attracted the toad's attention, inviting it to shoot out its tongue -- at which point the intended prey lunged onto the toad, attached itself and began draining the unfortunate amphibian of its vital juices. Later, said larva gnawed at the shriveled toad's flesh. In some cases, the toad did manage to dislodge the larva and thus avoid unpleasant death, but not without some serious injuries. Just goes to show: Some days you're eating lunch, some days the lunch is eating you.
Read more in Discovery News.
Photo credits: gray wolf courtesy Flickr Commons/Stonehorse Studios, Florida sandhill crane courtesy Flickr Commons/GreenNetizen; elkhorn coral by Chiapponem@uncwil.edu; Mississippi gopher frog courtesy USFWS; Newell's shearwater (c) Angela Iwai; jaguar condom package design by Lori Lieber, (c) Endangered Species Print Project; piping plover (c) Sidney Maddock; Imnaha Pack alpha male courtesy Oregon Department of Fish and wildlife; Palau courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Peter R. Binter; green toad courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Richard Bartz.
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