Rare Forest Mammal Wins New Chance at Protection
The Pacific fisher is getting another shot at protection in California. After a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity, a judge has told California's wildlife commission to reconsider its decision not to protect the fisher -- a plush-furred, shy but ferocious mammal. Fishers were once common in forests along the West Coast but due to logging, trapping and development, only two small populations remain in California.
After the Center sought protection for the fisher under California's Endangered Species Act in 2008, state wildlife officials tried to reject our petition without conducting a full scientific review. When we exposed that the agency's own scientists believed the Pacific fisher warranted protection, it was forced to conduct a full review -- but the agency's management edited the conclusions of the report, enabling it to still declare that this imperiled forest dweller didn't warrant protection.
We went to court and now a California superior court has ordered the agency to again reconsider its decision, and the Pacific fisher may finally get the safeguards it needs to survive and thrive in California once more.
Read more in our press release and learn about saving the Pacific fisher.
Six South American Birds Declared Endangered
Six South American bird species just won Endangered Species Act protection: the ash-breasted tit-tyrant, Junín grebe, Junín rail, Peruvian plantcutter, royal cinclodes and white-browed tit-spinetail.
It's been a long battle for these birds. The Center for Biological Diversity began fighting to protect declining avian species across the globe in 2003 when we first sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for delaying protection for 73 foreign birds. After a series of Center lawsuits, the Service finally began to move forward; now, lots of these birds are on the endangered species list, with more on their way. Protecting international species restricts trade in these species, increases conservation funding and attention to recovery efforts on their behalf and adds to scrutiny of U.S.-involved projects overseas.
The six just-protected birds are largely threatened by logging, as well as their extremely small population sizes, which compromise their ability to adapt to ongoing human activities or unexpected natural events.
Learn about the Center’s long fight to save international birds.
Arizona Snail Moves Closer to Federal Safeguards
Arizona's Sonoran talussnail may be small -- it only grows to an inch or so -- but its list of threats is long: Climate change, invasive species like buffelgrass and, most of all, the Rosemont mine, a proposed open-pit copper mine that would obliterate much of its tiny range.
Rosemont would cut a 400-foot, mile-wide hole in the heart of the Santa Rita Mountains, part of southern Arizona's stunning "Sky Island" region. Besides the Sonoran talussnail, the mine threatens the habitat of many other species, like the rare Coleman's coralroot orchid and long-nosed bat.
But due to the Center for Biological Diversity's historic agreement last year with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to advance protection decisions for 757 species, the snail, for one, is a step closer to receiving the protections it needs to survive. It just earned a year-long review to determine whether it'll get full protection.
Read more from the Cronkite News Service and learn about the Center's Sky Islands conservation work.
Suit Filed to Protect Public From Mercury in Fish
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, seafood is the No. 1 source of mercury exposure, which is especially poisonous for babies, children and pregnant women. Each year, 630,000 U.S. babies are at risk of contamination, which can cause neurological damage, heart disease and sometimes even death.
The Center for Biological Diversity and allies set out to change that Tuesday, suing the federal Food and Drug Administration for its failure to respond to our request for stricter standards to protect the public from mercury in seafood. In 2011, we petitioned for a rule to make seafood sellers post signs about the danger of mercury in fish, improved health advisories for people most at-risk of from mercury exposure and more stringent mercury limits on FDA-approved seafood. The FDA didn’t heed our petition -- at least not yet.
Swordfish and many tuna species eaten by humans contain high levels of mercury; we’re taking action to ensure greater protections.
Read more in the Center's press release.
Protection Sought for Rare Tennessee Crayfish
Tennessee is home to an astonishing 78 species of crayfish: small, gilled, freshwater crustaceans that look like little lobsters -- some of the most interesting creatures in the world. But one of the rarest of these, the Obey crayfish, is in danger of extinction, threatened by water pollution from a proposed poultry facility, sand mining and drought. Today, it survives in just one river in northeastern Tennessee.
The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned to earn this crayfish Endangered Species Act protections in 2010, after which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared it "may warrant protection." But the agency missed its deadline to move forward on safeguarding the species, so on Tuesday we filed a notice of intent to sue the agency.
Besides being an important link in their freshwater food webs, crayfish are cool -- with eyes on moveable stalks and five pairs of legs. Males court females by rubbing them with their antennae and claws and then flipping them over.
Read more in our press reslease and learn more about the Southeastern freshwater extinction crisis.
Fighting to Save Condors on Multiple Fronts
California condors almost went extinct in the 1980s, when only 22 were left in the wild and caught for captive breeding. Now, they're on the road to recovery with more than 200 flying free in the wildlands of the Southwest and California. But, condors remain highly endangered due to chronic lead poisoning: When a condor ingests carrion or tissue from game shot with toxic lead bullets, it also consumes lead fragments, which can mean debilitating lead poisoning and even death.
The Center for Biological Diversity is coming at the issue from all sides to get poisonous lead out of the environment -- not just in condor habitat but across the country, for the sake of all wildlife. Since 2004 we've worked to educate the public and legislators about this life-threatening issue. We’ve won non-lead hunting regulations in condor habitat in California, filed suit in Arizona to protect condors in the Grand Canyon from lead poisoning by submitting public comments, formally petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to require nontoxic ammunition for hunting and developed creative online ads to highlight the issue. We're also beating back attacks from the NRA and its cronies in Congress on laws regulating toxics and suing the EPA to ensure it regulates toxic lead in hunting ammo.
The Center's come a long way as a leader in the protection and recovery of condors and the fight to get the lead out of the food chain. But we need your help now to keep up the fight. Please donate to our Condor Defense Fund to join us in saving these magnificent birds.
Golden State Says No Fracking Way
On Wednesday, the Center for Biological Diversity joined more than 100 people at a demonstration at California's capitol to tell state leaders, "Don't Frack with California."
Operating under the radar for years, fracking -- or hydraulic fracturing -- is a damaging oil and gas-drilling technique that involves injecting millions of gallons of highly pressurized water, sand and toxic chemicals deep into the earth. Fracking is set to expand in California, even though it routinely uses lead, arsenic, chromium 6 and benzene, has been associated with more than 1,000 documented cases of water contamination across the country, and isn't tracked or controlled by state regulators in even the most basic ways. Fracking also emits methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas, and threatens California's endangered wildlife.
California has held workshops across the state to get public input on regulating fracking -- and we've been giving it to them. The Center has helped mobilize supporters to attend these workshops and speak out to say: The best way to protect California is to ban this dangerous drilling technique.
Learn more about fracking in California, including how it affects wildlife, and then take action.
LA Times Examines Human Population Problem
The Los Angeles Times just launched a compelling, five-part series on human population, consumption and the future of our planet. The series, "Beyond 7 Billion," looks at a sweeping range of conflicts connected with unsustainable population growth, including the staggering depletion of land, water and other natural resources -- and raises significant questions about what it will take for the planet to cope when the population hits 9 billion by 2050.
Although much of the Times' series focuses on the human toll in Africa and Asia, we know the population crisis is a global one, cutting across countries and continents, including the United States, and has had disastrous consequences for plants and animals. The Center for Biological Diversity's 7 Billion and Counting campaign is aimed at highlighting the connection between human population growth, consumption of resources and the decline of already-imperiled species.
Read more on our 7 Billion and Counting Web page and see a profile on our population work produced by the Argosy Foundation.
Then read the first installment of the Los Angeles Times' series and see videos and graphics here.
Wild & Weird: Gorilla Youngsters Dismantle Poachers' Traps
Some young and clever mountain gorillas in Rwanda are making the best out of a bad situation. Every year, poachers set thousands of spring-loaded branch and rope snares in Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park to catch antelope and other animals. Sometimes gorillas get trapped.
But check this out: Recently, a tracker working for the Karisoke Research Center -- a local gorilla conservation organization -- witnessed three juvenile gorillas systematically dismantling traps in the forest, the first report of its kind. The speed and confidence exhibited by the young gorillas may mean this is not the first time they've destroyed a trap -- and we hope it won't be the last.
Get more from National Geographic.
Photo credits: Pacific fisher courtesy Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife; ash-breasted tit-tyrant (c) Yanayaku Biological Station; Sonoran talussnail by J. Sorensen, Arizona Game and Fish Department; swordfish courtesy NOAA; Obey crayfish (c) Roger Thoma; California condor courtesy Flickr Commons/Jim Bahn; fracking rally; crowded beach (c) iStock.com/mura; coho salmon by Roger Tabor, USFWS; gorilla youth courtesy Flickr Commons/Bruce Tuten.
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