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140 Groups to EPA: Protect Wildlife From Lead Hunting Ammo

bald eagle

Millions of birds and other animals die from lead hunting ammunition each year -- not from being shot but from eating fragments of ammunition left behind by hunters. It's a wildlife epidemic that's entirely preventable. That's why on Monday the Center for Biological Diversity pulled together more than 140 other groups to petition the Environmental Protection Agency to finally get the lead out of hunting ammunition in favor of readily available, nontoxic alternatives.

Each year, 3,000 tons of lead are shot into the environment by hunters because the EPA refuses to regulate toxic lead hunting ammunition. That lead poisons bald eagles, severely endangered condors and majestic trumpeter swans, which die painful deaths. Hunting with lead ammo also risks the health of humans (especially children) when they ingest tiny lead fragments in shot game.

The petition to the EPA included organizations in 35 states, representing conservationists, birders, hunters, zoologists, scientists, American Indians, wildlife rehabilitators and veterinarians.

Read more in Mother Jones, learn about the Center's Get the Lead Out campaign and sign our petition to the EPA yourself.

Shell Oil Sues the Center -- Please Help

pacific walrus

Shell Oil, the second-largest energy company in the world, just sued the Center for Biological Diversity and 12 other environmental groups. Why? Because we've stopped every offshore drilling proposal in the Arctic since 2007, and the oil giant wants to push through drilling in a fragile ecosystem that could never withstand an oil spill. Polar bears, walruses, seals, whales and other Great North creatures would be put in danger by drilling -- and Shell, having been stymied by conservationists for years, is bound and determined to start this summer.

Not only that, but Shell is also trying to get us to pay its legal fees, which will likely run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. This Shell game is all about intimidation and shutting down free speech.

A Center supporter has generously agreed to match all emergency donations if we can raise $50,000. We've had a tremendous outpouring of support already, but we haven't met our goal yet. If you're able to give, or give again, please consider a donation today to our Emergency Legal Defense Fund to help us defeat this obnoxious and dangerous lawsuit. Then learn more about Arctic oil development.

Tell Obama to Stop Arctic Drilling -- Make a Video

Emily Jeffers video

If you want to go even further to stop Shell Oil, and all Big Oil companies, from ruining the Arctic landscape and driving its special species toward extinction, why not make a video?
Center for Biological Diversity activists around the country are making their own 30-second mini-movies telling President Barack Obama to stop Arctic drilling. We need one from you! So put on a costume, dress up a pet, recite a poem or just state your case that the unique Arctic ecosystem and all its species cannot and must not be destroyed by oil companies looking for more dirty profits.

We'll post your video on our website, and we'll also make sure the best videos go straight to the White House. But you have to submit your vid by Tuesday, March 20 -- so get recording!  Find out how now.

Rare Eastern Mussels Protected, Water-quality Outlook Improved

sheepnose mussel

Some little-known species won a big victory this week with new protections under the Endangered Species Act. The sheepnose and spectaclecase mussels, once common across the eastern United States, are now found in only a handful of rivers. The health of freshwater mussels reflects the overall health of rivers (and by extension, human drinking water), because they need clean water to survive. By protecting them under the Act, we're also protecting fresh water for people.

"These mussels have funny names, but their situation is serious -- and so are the water-quality problems facing our country's rivers," said the Center's Tierra Curry.

The mussels were protected as part of a landmark 2011 agreement between Center for Biological Diversity and the government to move 757 species toward federal safeguards.

Get more from CBS St. Louis. Then learn about the Center's 757-species agreement and our hard work to stop the Southeast freshwater extinction crisis.

Diseases Killing Species Worldwide -- Take Action Now

eastern small-footed bat

Sudden outbreaks of horrifying diseases aren't merely fodder for Hollywood blockbusters -- they're popping up all the time and threatening wildlife as well as human beings. Take, for example, the nearly 7 million bats that have died from white-nose syndrome over the past five winters, or the eastern rattlesnakes that were recently reported dying painful deaths from a mysterious new fungal illness. The consequences of rapidly emerging diseases for wildlife are devastating, and will certainly also affect people.

The Center for Biological Diversity has been working for years to save bats, snakes and other wildlife from diseases. Now we need your help.

Take action with us now by telling your senators to support the Wildlife Disease Emergency Act, a bill that would help fund rapid response to diseases threatening to drive species to extinction. Then learn about our efforts against white-nose syndrome.

Brutal "Rattlesnake Roundup" Becomes Wildlife Celebration

eastern diamondback rattlesnake

For years, the Evans County Wildlife Club in Georgia held "rattlesnake roundups" where rattlesnakes were caught, killed and displayed. Now, thanks to the Center for Biological Diversity and some young conservationists, the event has been changed to a celebration of snakes and other wildlife, minus the slaughter element. 

The Center has been working with 10-year-old Carter Ries and 9-year-old Olivia Ries -- who founded a conservation group called One More Generation -- to stop cruel rattlesnake roundups in Georgia and speak out for imperiled species like the eastern diamondback. Our effort paid off with the newly configured event in Evans County, leaving only one "rattlesnake roundup," in Whigham, Ga., remaining in the state.

Get more from GPB News and learn about our campaign to outlaw rattlesnake roundups.

Endangered Southern Frog Protected From Development

Mississippi gopher frog

Good news for a one-of-a-kind frog in the South: The Mississippi gopher frog will get more room to live under an agreement just signed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Gulf Restoration Network and Columbus Communities, the developer of a planned 4,800-acre community called "Tradition" in Harrison County, Miss. The agreement outlines steps for a land exchange between the developer and the U.S. Forest Service to protect one of the gopher frog's last remaining breeding ponds.

Once common throughout Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, the stubby, spotty Mississippi gopher frog is now nearly extinct because of fire suppression, drought, pesticides, urban sprawl and highway construction. Today it survives in just four small Mississippi ponds. As the result of a Center suit and settlement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the gopher frog as an endangered species in 2001; it proposed to protect 7,000 acres of "critical habitat" (also due to our legal work) about a decade later. According to recent surveys, there may be fewer than 100 adult frogs of the species remaining; the latest agreement will certainly improve its odds of survival.

Read more in the Bastrop Daily Enterprise and learn about saving the Mississippi gopher frog.

Lawsuit Targets Sprawl Near California's Salton Sea

burrowing owl

The Center for Biological Diversity and Sierra Club just filed a lawsuit challenging plans for a sprawling development near Southern California's Salton Sea. The project, if it goes through, would add more than 16,000 houses and apartments (along with 5 million square feet of commercial development) on 5,000 acres. The Travertine Point project would bring thousands of people to the desert and threaten several imperiled species that live there, including the burrowing owl, peninsular bighorn sheep and desert pupfish.

The suit challenges Riverside County's approval of the project without fully examining its impacts on pollution, adjacent park lands, climate change or traffic congestion in the region. The project is the latest in a string of development proposals for the Salton Sea shoreline, nearly all of which have been abandoned. "Rather than more mindless sprawl, we need growth that promotes livable communities and reduces California's greenhouse gases," said Center attorney Aruna Prabhala.

Read more in Scientific American.

Wild & Weird: Thousands of Spiders Blanket Town

wolf spiderA weirdly named town experienced an even weirder phenomenon when a flood recently hit Wagga Wagga, Australia. Thirteen thousand unlucky human Wagga Waggers were driven from their homes -- but local wolf spiders were also driven out and forced to find new digs. The vast expanse of silky webs they wove coated people's yards, trees and buildings, acting as a kind of huge trampoline and letting the spiders flee the flood quickly.

It's called "ballooning" -- typical spider escapist behavior when avoiding rising waters but not a typical event for Wagga Wagga. Luckily for Wagga Wagga denizens (and the spiders), the flood started receding before too long. Even more luckily, the sudden appearance of vast webbery and teeming, furry arachnids saved people from a mosquito takeover, since populations of those bloodsuckers boomed with the increased moisture from the flood.

Ah, if only we could all snuggle up in spider blankets -- at least during mosquito season.

Get more info (plus see a slideshow and video) at Yahoo! News.

Kieran Suckling

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: trumpeter swan courtesy Flickr Commons/Paruula; bald eagle courtesy Flickr Commons/Beverly&Pack; Pacific walrus courtesy USFWS; Emily Jeffers; Sheepnose mussel courtesy USFWS; eastern small-footed bat courtesy National Parks Service; eastern diamondback rattlesnake courtesy Flickr Commons/Sophro; Mississippi gopher frog courtesy USFWS; burrowing owl by Don Baccus; wolf spider courtesy Flickr Commons/e_monk.

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