24,000 Acres Protected for Tiny, Threatened Bird
Following much work in court by the Center for Biological Diversity, the western snowy plover -- a 6-inch-long, buff- and sea-spray-colored shorebird -- is at last enjoying 24,000 protected acres of habitat on the Pacific coast. After a 1999 Center lawsuit won the little bird almost 20,000 acres of "critical habitat," a politically weighted Bush-era decision reduced those protections to just 12,000 acres -- eliminating San Francisco Bay-area habitat deemed necessary for its survival by scientists. Now, after a 2008 Center suit, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has restored the lost habitat -- and then some.
In fact, the western snowy plover is an Endangered Species Act success: Since earning federal protections in 1993 -- when only 1,500 survived in the wild -- the plover has rebounded to more than 3,600. But it still faces many threats, from development to pesticides to human disturbance; the nests of this shy, 2-ounce bird are easily overturned by human beach traffic or unleashed dogs. And climate change threatens its entire beach home with sea-level rise.
Read more in the San Francisco Chronicle and learn about the Center's work to save the western snowy plover.
10,000 Seabirds Saved From Lead Poisoning
Seabirds won again this week when, in response to Center for Biological Diversity action, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to a timeline for cleaning up lead paint from a defunct military base on Midway Atoll -- a Pacific island containing enough lead to kill as many as 10,000 Laysan albatross chicks every year. Lead on the island also poses a threat to highly endangered Laysan ducks.
"Midway Atoll provides unparalleled nesting habitat for albatross, which fly thousands of miles over the Pacific Ocean in search of food and return to the atoll to nest each year. Without this cleanup, their amazing efforts would continue to be wasted as chicks die of lead poisoning," said Shaye Wolf, a Center biologist.
As the military buildings decay, toxic, lead-based paint chips flake off and are eaten by curious chicks. Many poisoned chicks suffer from nervous system damage called "droopwing" that leaves them unable to lift their wings, which drag on the ground and become susceptible to open sores and fractures, leading to a slow and painful death.
Read more on the settlement in The Maui News or our press release; you can also see photos and video of the lead-poisoned chicks on our website.
Suit Launched to Save 10 Aquatic Species in Florida
In the Southeast, where the Center for Biological Diversity recently opened a new Florida office, habitat destruction, water pollution and water withdrawals are driving freshwater and wetland species to the brink of extinction. This week the Center filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the agency's failure to protect 10 of these rare species under the Endangered Species Act.
The species -- which include black rails, Georgia blind salamanders, Palatka skipper butterflies, purple skimmer dragonflies, small-flower meadow beauties, Ichetucknee siltsnails, Florida cave amphipods and Panama City, Orlando cave and Big Blue Springs cave crayfish -- were the subject of a 2010 Center petition to protect them under the Act; sadly, while the Service determined that all 10 species "may warrant" federal protection as endangered or threatened, it has failed to take any steps to help them.
One, the Ichetucknee siltsnail, is believed to occur on only 10 square yards of the planet, among submerged mosses and cypress roots.
Read more in The Miami Herald.
150 Groups to Obama: Save Polar Bears Now
The Center for Biological Diversity and more than 150 other groups wrote to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Monday with an urgent message: Please, act now to help polar bears survive by protecting them from global warming.
After a 2005 petition from the Center, plus later lawsuits filed with allies, the federal government finally declared the bear "threatened" under the Act in 2008. But the Bush administration also passed a "4(d)" rule exempting greenhouse gas pollution from regulation under the Act. After we went back to court, a judge ordered the government to reconsider the rule because it ignored environmental consequences. But in response, the Obama administration has proposed to re-issue the same rule -- leaving polar bears, ice seals and other Arctic denizens at the mercy of dirty coal-fired power plants and other activities driving the global warming that's melting the sea-ice habitat from under their feet.
Our groups' letter urges Obama to scrap plans to reissue the "4(d)" rule and give the polar bear a chance to escape extinction. As you read this, the Arctic summer sea ice is melting rapidly, with much less ice today than on this same date in any other year it's been recorded.
Read about our letter in the Center's press release, get more on the Arctic's sea-ice nosedive from ThinkProgress and then learn about the Center's long work to save the polar bear.
Bat Epidemic Spreads to 21st State, Iowa -- Take Action
The fungus that causes deadly white-nose syndrome in bats has reached Iowa -- the 21st state affected by the outbreak that has killed up to 7 million bats since it was first documented in upstate New York in 2006. The disease starves and kills bats as they hibernate, sometimes reaching 100 percent mortality in bat caves. There's good reason to believe people help spread the fungus when they enter caves.
Bats are crucial to people's way of life and economy, saving farmers about $22 billion a year by eating crop pests, for instance. The Center for Biological Diversity has been working hard to fight white-nose syndrome for years -- from petitioning to protect bats to requesting scientific funding for white-nose research to pushing for crucial cave closures and seeking a national action plan from the White House.
Take action now to help bats get the urgent attention they need to survive. Then find more ways to help (as this girl did) and get the details at the Center's Save Our Bats page.
Scientists to World Leaders: Tackle Overpopulation, Consumption
The United Nations' Rio +20 summit is taking place this week, and even before world leaders' planes touched down in Brazil they'd been sent an urgent message by the world's top scientific institutions: Do something about overpopulation and overconsumption. Ignoring the problem risks "potentially catastrophic implications for human well-being."
The urging came from the world's 105 scientific academies, including the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, which called population and consumption "two of the most profound challenges to humanity." The statement echoes a similar one this spring by London's Royal Academy, which included recommendations like support for family planning.
It's encouraging to see scientists raise the profile of this critical issue and urge action by world leaders. The Center for Biological Diversity's path-breaking 7 Billion and Counting campaign highlights the connection between human population growth and accelerated extinction for species around the world.
Find out more about the science academies' message and then learn about the Center's work on these issues at 7 Billion and Counting.
Mount Hood's Woods Reveal Sierra Nevada Red Fox Population
Using motion-triggered cameras, our friends at Cascadia Wild this spring found on Mount Hood the first montane red foxes in northern Oregon in decades. Biologists think they're a subspecies known as the Sierra Nevada red fox -- one of the rarest mammals in North America, with fewer than 50 individuals known to exist in the only two remaining populations in California.
That's good news for the Center for Biological Diversity's work to protect the Sierra Nevada red fox under the Endangered Species Act. We petitioned the federal government for those protections last year, and new populations in Oregon could prove critical to resulting recovery efforts.
Read more in the San Francisco Chronicle and learn about the Center's work for the Sierra Nevada red fox.
Want to Help the Center More? Be a Volunteer
Do you want to get involved with the most successful, effective endangered species-advocacy group in the country -- up close and personal? Become an active part of the Center for Biological Diversity as a volunteer. Today we're launching a brand-new website where you can sign up to be part of our expanding volunteer network.
For more than two decades, the Center has led the fight to win concrete protections for endangered wildlife. If you want to step up your engagement to make a bigger impact, please -- lend us your time and energy. You'll also be lending it to countless creatures, plants and pristine wilderness that need as many champions as they can get.
Got qualifications? Talents? Quirks? Let us know. We're looking for individuals and groups with all levels of experience and all types of backgrounds to help with a variety of tasks -- from data entry in our Tucson office to local events to fieldwork. Check out our new volunteer page -- and share it with your friends.
Wild & Weird: Happy Wild Father's Day
Father's Day has come and gone, and we're sure the dad in your life loved that necktie or tin-can pencil holder. But what about those other dads out there -- the ones with tails or six legs or birth canals? Here's a brief rundown of some of the Earth's most loving papas:
Barking frog fathers in Texas are protective of their broods and stay very close. If the eggs begin to dry out, these progenitors will lovingly moisten them with their own urine. Other frog daddies have been known to carry their larvae on their backs and even, should the need arise, swallow the young tadpoles into special mouth sacs that serve as safe havens from predators.
Father giant water bugs in California carefully tote around broods of about 150 eggs, cemented onto their backs by lady friends during courtship, for protection till they hatch; daddy seahorses see that commitment and raise it, taking on pregnancy itself. Female seahorses deposit eggs in the males' pouches, where expectant fathers carry up to 2,000 babies during the 10-to-25-day gestation period.
South American owl monkey dads form monogamous life-bonds with their mates and are known to be the overall caregivers of the young, handling transport and grooming so that the mothers can conserve energy for nursing. Very rarely is a youngster seen outside its father's loving presence.
Get photos and video footage from National Geographic.
Photo credits: western snowy plover courtesy Flickr Commons/Mike Baird; Laysan albatross chick with drooping wings (c) Myra Finkelstein; black rail courtesy USGS; polar bear (c) Brendan Cummings; Save Our Bats logo; crowd courtesy Wikimedia Commons/KatrinKominiak; Sierra Nevada red fox by Keith Slausen, USFWS; beaver (c) William C. Gladfish; owl-faced monkey courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
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