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Settlement Will Help Save Sea Turtles From Fatal Fisheries

green sea turtle

Endangered sea turtles will soon be a little safer from one of their biggest threats: shrimp nets. After settling a lawsuit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies, the National Marine Fisheries Service on Tuesday proposed a new rule that would close a deadly loophole by requiring shrimping boats operating in shallow water in the Gulf of Mexico and southeast Atlantic Ocean to use escape hatches in their nets.

These "turtle excluder devices," or TEDs, have been required for most other fishing boats, but not for those that operate in shallow water. Nets have been catching about 28,000 turtles every year, many of which drown when they become entangled and are unable to swim to the surface to breathe.

Unfortunately, the settlement is already under threat: the U.S. House of Representatives just voted to strip Fisheries Service funding that is used to enforce the use of TEDs. We urgently need you to call your senators to make sure this measure does not go through. Find your senators' contact information here.

Read more in The Miami Herald and learn about saving imperiled loggerhead and leatherback sea turtles.

Big Step Toward Protection for Tiny Seahorse

dwarf seahorse

The inch-long dwarf seahorse -- the smallest in the United States -- is moving closer to Endangered Species Act protection. In response to a petition by the Center for Biological Diversity, the National Marine Fisheries Service announced that the seahorse may warrant federal protections.
This unique aquatic "equine" dwells in seagrass beds throughout the Gulf of Mexico, including off the coast of Florida. Commercial collection for the pet trade, and lasting damage from the BP oil spill and the dispersants used on the spill, are taking a toll on the tiny critter directly, as well as devastating the seagrass it needs to survive.

Like all seahorses, dwarf seahorses mate for life, and it's the males of the species that get pregnant and bear young. Chalk one up for co-parenting! 

Learn more about saving the dwarf seahorse and read up on the new announcement at MSNBC.

Petitions Filed to Save Two Woodpecker Populations

black-backed woodpecker

Black-backed woodpeckers make their homes in old forests that have been burnt, but the crucial role these stands of dead trees play for wildlife is being ignored and the forests cut down for timber; poor management of forests both before and after fires is depriving the birds of their homes. This week, the Center for Biological Diversity and allies petitioned for federal Endangered Species Act protection for two genetically distinct populations of the charcoal-and-ash-feathered bird on the California/Oregon border and in South Dakota.

"Black-backed woodpeckers don't deserve to have their homes chopped out from under them," said Justin Augustine, an attorney with the Center. "There's no excuse for continuing to wipe out the habitat of this beautiful bird."

Read a piece in The Billings Gazette and then learn more about the black-backed woodpecker.

Join 1 Million Americans Telling Obama to Stop Arctic Drilling

Arctic oil rig

Are you one in a million? Then it's time to raise your voice and help us mobilize 1 million Americans to tell President Obama not to allow dangerous offshore drilling in the Arctic.

The risks of Arctic drilling are huge. The region is prone to hurricane-force storms, 20-foot swells, sea ice up to 25 feet thick, subzero temperatures and months-long darkness. There's no proven way to clean up an oil spill in these extreme conditions. What's more, the Arctic has extremely limited infrastructure (there are no roads or deep-water ports and only a handful of small airports) and the nearest Coast Guard station is 1,000 miles away.

On May 15 we'll be delivering a petition to the White House telling President Obama that Americans oppose risky oil drilling in the fragile Arctic -- so please, sign our petition now. Then learn more about Arctic drilling.

World's Largest Rattlesnake Gets Good News

eastern diamondback rattlesnake

Some good news for one of our favorite scaled friends: Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes slithered closer to getting Endangered Species Act protection on Wednesday. After a petition by the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the species may warrant protection and will now get an in-depth review. The world's largest rattlesnake was once abundant in the pine forests of the Southeast, but today only 2 percent to 3 percent of its original habitat still exists.

The snake's story is all too common among reptiles and amphibians. Herpetofauna, as they're known, are in the midst of a mass extinction crisis -- yet are seldom protected under the Endangered Species Act, making up only 58 of the 1,400 total species that are currently federally protected.

The Center for Biological Diversity is working to change that, not just through our long history of fighting to save these animals but also by hiring the country's first-ever lawyer devoted entirely to amphibians and reptiles. We hope you'll help us with this critical work by making a gift now to save them.

Read a lively Huffington Post op-ed on the issue by the Center's Noah Greenwald, find out more in our press release and then take action to help save snakes from brutal rattlesnake roundups.

New Keystone XL Route, Same Environmental Disaster

whooping crane

The Keystone XL controversy has taken a new turn -- and so has the planned pipeline's path. After litigation by the Center for Biological Diversity and staunch opposition from thousands of people across the country, TransCanada has submitted an application to change the pipeline's route so it would veer around portions of the Sandhills in Nebraska, a sensitive area home to many imperiled species.

But the new Keystone XL would still devastate the environment.

While avoiding parts of the Sandhills, the 1,700-mile pipeline would still cross the Ogallala Aquifer, as well as hundreds of other water bodies and different habitat for endangered species -- beautiful birds like the whooping crane and piping plover, plus fish like the huge, ancient pallid sturgeon, which can live for up to a century but is already in danger of dying out.

Read more in our press release, then learn about our work against Keystone XL.

Tell the EPA to Stand Up to Rat-poison Pushers

San Joaquin kit foxes

After decades of study, the Environmental Protection Agency is finally moving to ban certain types of super-toxic rodenticides that poison wildlife, pets and children. Every year, rare species like the San Joaquin kit fox, bobcat and great horned owl are poisoned when thye consume rat and mouse poison in rodents. Dogs, cats and even children are also exposed to wayward "loose" poison pellets. Safer and lower-cost alternatives exist -- such as adding tamper-resistant bait stations and using less toxic products.

But even these small steps to reduce human and animal poisoning are too much for some rat-poison manufacturers, which have tried to thwart the EPA's ban. 
It's time to take action now to tell the EPA to stand up to the pesticide companies and move forward with a ban on super-toxic and reckless rat poison. Then learn more about the Center for Biological Diversity's work to reduce pesticides in the environment.

And the Green Award Goes to . . .

top rated badge

. . . the Center for Biological Diversity! Well, one of the awards, at least. Thanks to you, our profile page on the charity-reviewing site GreatNonprofits now has an astounding 623 reviews, mostly the kind that blow our socks off with pride. It also means GreatNonprofits named us one of the top green nonprofits of the year in its 2012 Green Awards.

Calling us a legal "powerhouse," "uncompromising," and even "a bright light of hope in a too-dark nation," this year's reviewers made it clear that they view our work as "crucial to the well-being of the entire planet." And we can't help but mention that our superior use of funds is oft-mentioned as well. Said one Samaritan: "The Center for Biological Diversity is my top charity to give to, because their work is so vital, and they are very effective in doing it. I know my donations get put to work and make a difference."

One of our favorite quotes: "These guys are the real deal; when other organizations bend or compromise over important issues, the Center is still standing strong for what's right."

Read our reviews at GreatNonprofits (and you can still write one, too).

Wild & Weird: Mad Men? Nope, Just Kooky Climate Deniers

Ted KaczynskiWhat do climate scientists, the Unabomber, Fidel Castro, Charles Manson and Osama bin Laden have in common? According to a new campaign funded by The Heartland Institute, it's not their beards; the answer is "a belief in man-made global warming." To make this global warming/creepy guy connection, the climate-denying think tank paid for a billboard in Chicago plastered with a scruffy mug shot of Theodore Kaczynski (a.k.a. "the Unabomber") and the question: "I still believe in Global Warming. Do you?"

According to the Institute's website: "The people who still believe in man-made global warming are mostly on the radical fringe of society. This is why the most prominent advocates of global warming aren't scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen." Less than a day after its unveiling, the ad was brought down amidst heated criticism. Several corporate sponsors and politicians also pulled out of a climate change "reality" conference hosted by The Heartland Institute. Apparently, "reality" is not for everyone.

Check out the Institute's website and read this Chicago Tribune article on the issue.

Kieran Suckling

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: loggerhead sea turtle courtesy Flickr Commons/mattk; green sea turtle courtesy Flickr Commons/Nemo's Great Uncle; dwarf seahorse (c) Jeff Jeffords; black-backed woodpecker courtesy NPS; Arctic drilling rig courtesy Flickr Commons/Xenoc; eastern diamondback rattlesnake courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Tim Vickers; whooping crane courtesy Flickr Commons/USFWS; San Joaquin kit foxes courtesy USFWS; GreatNonprofits award; Ted Kaczynski mug shot courtesy Wikimedia Commons/FBI.

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