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Emergency Legal Filing Stops Oregon Wolf Kill

Within hours of an emergency appeal by the Center for a Biological Diversity and allies, the Oregon Court of Appeals late Wednesday issued a temporary reprieve preventing the killing of two of the state’s last wolves.

With Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife officials already in the mountains hunting the alpha male and another wolf in the tiny Imnaha pack, Center lawyers rushed to the courthouse, securing an 11th-hour court order to stop the killing. Without that order, the first successfully breeding wolf pack since the species was exterminated from Oregon decades ago would have been reduced to just the alpha female and her pup. Without her partner and a functioning pack, she and her pup may not make it through the winter. The state has already put the pack on the knife-edge of existence, killing two other members last May.

Stripped of federal protection by Congress earlier this year, gray wolves in Oregon and Washington are already at extreme risk of extinction. The reprieve in Oregon is just temporary, though, giving the court a chance to hear the Center's full legal case and make a permanent decision in coming weeks. It is critical that we convince the court that killing any more wolves in the Imnaha pack is not only unconscionable -- it's illegal. We'l keep you posted on our progress.

And thank you for taking action: Thousands of Center supporters sent emails, letters and phone calls to the governor to save the wolves. Please keep up the pressure.

Read more in The Oregonian.

Lawsuit Seeks to Halt Work on Controversial Keystone XL Pipeline

The hotly contested Keystone XL pipeline hasn't been approved for construction, but federal officials don't seem to care; they've allowed the pipeline company to mow down 100 miles of native prairie grasslands in Nebraska to clear the way -- before any public hearings were held on whether Keystone XL should move forward at all.

The Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the Earth filed a lawsuit in federal court in Omaha Wednesday to halt that work. Specifically, we're challenging decisions by the State Department and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to allow work to begin before a decision's been made on the pipeline or the public hearings, which look like little more than a sham at this point.

If approved, TransCanada's 1,700-mile pipeline would carry up to 35 million gallons of oil a day from tar sands in Canada to refineries in Texas. Not only will this project add fuel to the global climate crisis, but the pipeline will cut across Nebraska's legendary Sandhills, hundreds of rivers and streams, and the Ogallala Aquifer, which provides drinking water for millions of people. TransCanada's existing pipeline, called Keystone 1, has reportedly leaked 14 times since it started operating in June 2010.

Get more from Reuters.

Hellbender, Eight Southeast Species to Earn Protection

One of the Southeast's most stunning and enigmatic creatures, the Ozark hellbender, is now protected under the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made the announcement this week about the hellbender, the largest salamander in the United States and a species the Center for Biological Diversity first petitioned to protect in 2004.

And there's more good news this week for ailing species in the Southeast: The Service also proposed to protect eight freshwater mussels in Alabama and Florida under the Endangered Species Act and set aside 1,500 miles of waterways as "critical habitat" for them.

The decisions are part of the Center's massive agreement, reached this summer, to speed protection decisions for 757 of the country's most imperiled but least protected species. (Last week, the Service said 374 other freshwater species in the Southeast may also get protection.) Unfortunately some deserving species didn't get protection, including the Southwest's diminutive cactus ferruginous pygmy owl (we're already preparing to challenge this decision) and two Florida species -- the South Florida rainbow snake and Florida fairy shrimp -- that have officially gone extinct.

Get more from KCTV5.

26 Snails and Slugs Move Closer to Safeguards

In big news for some tiny, slimy -- and ecologically crucial -- invertebrates, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced on Tuesday that 26 Pacific Northwest snails and slugs may deserve Endangered Species Act protection. The Service will now start a scientific "status review" to determine how dire the danger is for all 26 creatures. The move is a result of the Center for Biological Diversity's landmark settlement with the Service to speed decisions on protecting 757 animals and plants. The Center and allies first petitioned to protect these Pacific Northwest mollusks in 2008.

The aquatic and terrestrial snails and slugs are all seriously threatened by logging, decreasing water quality, pollution and climate change. But each species is delightfully unique -- from the yellow-banded Basalt juga to the translucent-shelled masked duskysnail.

Read more in The Oregonian.

Redwoods vs. Wineries –- Help Save Forests and Salmon

One of Northern California's redwood forests -- near a critical salmon run, no less -- is in danger of being sacrificed to wine grapes and high-end housing. Two wineries are proposing to clear-cut a total of nearly 2,000 acres of redwood trees and Douglas firs to plant vast new vineyards and erect a high-end housing development to boot.

Turning forest into vineyards is arguably even worse than clearcutting alone -- because tree loss with vineyards is permanent. Redwoods-to-vineyard conversions increase greenhouse gas emissions and harm stream flows, water quality and habitat for imperiled wildlife, including endangered salmon and steelhead trout.

Take action now by telling the Department of Forestry you won't stand for cutting down redwood trees for the sake of Pinot Noir.

Cities Speaking Up for Clean Air -- Will Yours Be Next?

Albany, N.Y. this week became the first city to join the Center for Biological Diversity's new Clean Air Cities campaign by passing a resolution in support of the Clean Air Act and reducing greenhouse gas pollution. Less than two weeks after the launch of our national campaign, resolutions urging federal action on climate change and pollution cuts are already moving forward across the country, from Richmond, Calif. to Seattle, Wash. Will your city be next? We need your help to make it happen. Center staffers stand ready to support you, because this work is more urgent than ever. 

Not only is the global climate crisis deepening every day, but the U.S. House of Representatives is poised to vote on legislation that would gut the Clean Air Act. These bills would prevent the EPA from moving ahead with long-overdue efforts to reduce air pollution such as mercury and other toxic metals, as well as smog and soot from industrial boilers, solid-waste incinerators and cement plants. We need our cities to stand up to big polluters and stand up for the Clean Air Act. 

Please take a minute to check out and send the supplied cover letter and draft resolution to your city officials. We have step-by-step instructions on how to do it and need your help to get cities in all 50 states to take action. Not sure who to contact? Email Rose Braz, our climate campaign director.

Lawsuit Targets Illegal Bulldozing in N.M. River

A Catron County, N.M. bulldozer tore through more than 13 miles of the San Francisco River in August, including a stretch that's designated critical habitat for the federally threatened loach minnow. The bulldozer and other vehicles trespassed on private land and crossed the river at least 47 times. This act of recklessness came just a week after Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) issued a press release saying that county sheriffs who patrol the Gila National Forest won't enforce roadless rules or the national forest's travel plan that governs off-road vehicle use.

On Monday, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a notice of intent to sue Catron County for its attack on the river, endangered species and federal law. We're seeking full restoration of the disturbed areas and Clean Water Act fines that would be paid to the U.S. Treasury.

Read more in The New York Times.

Worst of the Worst: Last Chance to Pick This Year's Rubber Dodo

Don't miss out on your chance to vote for the worst eco-villain of 2011 by helping decide who should get this year's Rubber Dodo Award -- the annual "prize" given by the Center for Biological Diversity to the person or business that did the most to drive imperiled species extinct. Past Dodos have gone to former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne and former BP CEO Tony Hayward.

Leading contenders this year are Syngenta, the giant pesticide manufacturer and maker of atrazine, a weed-killer widely linked to health problems in people and wildlife; New Mexico Congressman Steve Pearce, an anti-environment radical favoring Big Oil and Gas over both imperiled species and the facts; and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the deep-pocketed pro-industry group that's fought every significant effort in Congress to address global warming

Help us decide now by voting for one of our picks or nominate your own favorite eco-villain -– but the clock is ticking. Polls close Oct. 12.

Vote Now to Help the Center Save Species

Here's an easy way to help earn money for the Center for Biological Diversity: the free click of a button.

Each year, the philanthropy-minded company Working Assets and its CREDO Mobile branch donate a portion of their members' charges to a select group of progressive organizations like ours. We're excited to be on the ballot, but the amount of money we receive at the end of the year will depend on how many of you vote for us. If you're not a Working Assets or CREDO customer, all you have to do is sign up as a CREDO action member, which lets you take online action with CREDO on important issues. Then you can go to the Working Assets voting page and assign maximum points to the Center. It's easy, quick and very helpful to our cause of saving species, from the great polar bear to the tiny Miami blue butterfly.

Please support us -- sign up and vote here now. Then tell your friends to do the same.

Wild & Weird: Rowdy Dogs Sniff Out Rare Wildlife

Well-trained, mature-acting dogs have no problems getting gigs as seeing-eye dogs, police K-9s or even Lassie types who find missing children in wells. But what about those dogs who just can't seem to grow out of puppyhood -- the ones with the lolling tongues and unbridled energy?

Turns out some of those pups have a special knack for helping endangered species. Conservation groups are now visiting animal shelters to liberate the most high-energy inmates and turn them into species finders. After a little training, they've been used to sniff out signs of grizzly bears, wolves, foxes, lizards and even plants.

Sometimes it's the underdog who does the most good.

Read more in Treehugger.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: Chelan mountainsnail (c) William Leonard; Keystone pipeline courtesy Flickr/shannonpatrick17; hellbender courtesy USFWS; Chelan mountainsnail (c) William Leonard; Imnana Pack alpha male courtesy Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife; chinook salmon courtesy Flickr Commons/Josh Larios; clean air courtesy Wikimedia Commons/UpstateNYer; loach minnow (c) John Rinne; rubber dodo; vote sign courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Tom Arthur; grizzly bear (c) Robin Silver.

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