American Jaguars to Win 838,000 Protected Acres
In a victory almost 20 years in the making, 838,232 acres of protected "critical habitat" have been proposed for American jaguars in Arizona and New Mexico -- thanks to many years of petitions, lawsuits, study and public outreach by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies. "Jaguars are a spectacular part of our natural heritage and belong to every American -- just as surely as bald eagles, wolves and grizzly bears," said Center Executive Director Kierán Suckling.
The largest cats in the Western Hemisphere, jaguars used to live from California to Louisiana and as far north as Colorado. The great cats were driven almost to extinction by the 1950s due to government anti-predator policies. They were protected as endangered in response to scientists' petitioning and a Center lawsuit in 1997, and in 2009 -- the same year the jaguar called "Macho B" was infamously trapped and euthanized -- they finally won a court order directing the feds to designate critical habitat, again in response to legal action by the Center.
The new designation will help jaguars, at long last, truly recolonize the American Southwest.
Read more in Scientific American.
Reality TV Host Gloats Over Wolf Slaughter
While hunters and predator-control agents prepare to kill 170-plus Wyoming wolves, the Center for Biological Diversity is gearing up to launch an emergency legal case to stop the slaughter. In less than two weeks, the Department of the Interior plans to remove Endangered Species Act protections from wolves in Wyoming and allow the killing of all wolves by any means in more than 80 percent of the state -- even though the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rejected a similar plan last year in part because Wyoming wolves are important to the Yellowstone population. The Center is working to secure an injunction to stop the killing of these ecologically critical, highly social creatures, many of whom just had pups this spring.
Meanwhile a reality TV show tonight is broadcasting a wolf-shooting in Montana, with the host crowing, "It's the funnest thing I've done in years!" and calling wolf advocates "a bunch of wingnut screwballs" for trying to save the animals. Well, we screwballs have an unparalleled record of saving wolves from the Rockies to the Southwest to Oregon and the Great Lakes -- so excuse us while we get back to work.
Learn about our campaign to save northern Rockies wolves.
Petition Seeks to Save Sea Life From Deadly Plastics -- Take Action
Sea turtles choke on it, seals get tangled in it, seabirds get sick on it. Plastic pollution is a growing scourge in our oceans. It kills hundreds of thousands of animals each year, including endangered species like Hawaiian monk seals and Pacific loggerhead sea turtles. In the Los Angeles area alone, 20 tons of plastic fragments -- things like grocery bags, straws and soda bottles -- are carried into the Pacific Ocean every day. Much of it makes its way to a giant, swirling garbage patch in the middle of the Pacific that's bigger than Texas and growing rapidly.
The toll plastic's taking on our sea life is heavy. That's why on Wednesday, the Center for Biological Diversity filed the first-ever petition to the Environmental Protection Agency to use the Clean Water Act to set a zero tolerance for plastic pollution in our oceans. It's an important first step toward saving nearly 300 species, from whales and seals to corals and seabirds, from the daily death sentence plastics impose.
Read more in our press release, check out our brand-new Web page, and then sign and share our petition to the EPA.
Protections Sought for 43 Alaskan Cold-water Corals
Climate change threatens not only polar bears and other inhabitants of the Arctic Ocean's surface ice but also a wide range of marine species that dwell in its dark depths. On Monday the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the federal government to list 43 spectacular species of Alaskan corals under the Endangered Species Act -- a move that would provide protections for, and research into, species like Stylaster repandus, a foot-high fan coral with pink stems and soft, orange branches.
Because they live in the deep ocean -- S. repandus is only found in deep waters off Amukta Island in the Aleutians -- few people have ever seen them. But research submersibles have brought back images of a profusion of life that inhabits these coral communities, among them rockfish, Pacific Ocean perch and king crab.
If nothing is done to curb climate change, the Arctic Ocean will be too warm and acidic in less than half a century for these corals to survive. Deep-sea trawling also uproots more than 90 tons of coral every year.
Read more in our press release.
Four Texas Salamanders Get Closer to Safeguards
Not many have even heard of these four small creatures, but the Jollyville Plateau, Austin blind, Georgetown and Salado salamanders are emerging into the limelight as they get closer to gaining federal protection -- along with 6,000 acres of proposed "critical habitat" in Texas. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed the salamanders and their habitat for protection Tuesday in accordance with a landmark 2011 Center for Biological Diversity settlement that speeds protection decisions for these salamanders and 753 other imperiled species.
All four salamanders spend their whole lives underwater in central Texas, needing clean, well-oxygenated water to survive. Though they all have their own special characteristics -- for example, the Salado salamander is just 2 inches long while the Austin blind salamander has no "external eyes" -- all species are threatened by activities that pollute water or reduce its flow to their aquatic homes. Significantly, two of the threats listed by the Fish and Wildlife Service were "increasing urbanization and population growth."
Read more in the Cedar Park-Leander Statesman and learn about saving the Jollyville Plateau salamander, plus our historic 757 species agreement.
Suit Filed -- Again -- for Tiny Southwest Owl
The Center for Biological Diversity returned to court again this week to restore Endangered Species Act protections for one of the Southwest's smallest and rarest owls. Thanks to a petition and three lawsuits by the Center, the cactus ferruginous pygmy owl -- a 2.5-ounce, daytime-feeding bird that lives only in the Sonoran desert of Arizona and Mexico -- was protected under the Act from 1996 to 2006. It also got 732,000 acres of protected "critical habitat." But developers wanting to bulldoze its habitat fought back, and the owl's protections were removed.
The Center petitioned to protect the owl once again in 2007, but yet again its needs were ignored; so now we're back in court. This small owl has become a unique symbol of the Sonoran desert and has already proven a great help in preserving native habitats.
Check out our press release and learn about the Center's long fight for the cactus ferruginous pygmy owl.
Record-breaking Year in the Making for Summer Sea-ice Melt
Arctic sea ice and the polar bears, walruses and other wildlife that depend on it are in very serious peril. The ice's extent is now extremely close to its historical record low (hit in 2007) -- with five weeks still to go in the melting season. Over three days in early August, sea-ice extent dropped by almost 77,220 square miles.
The thickness and volume of the ice is also in dramatic decline, making the overall ice pack more vulnerable to further summer melting. Earlier this month researchers reported that Arctic sea-ice volume is declining much faster than expected, with 3,118 cubic miles of sea ice measured in summer 2004 and only 1,679 cubic miles this summer.
Greenland also saw unprecedented summer melt, with a record 97 percent of its ice sheet undergoing surface melting by mid-July. The melting of the land-based Greenland ice sheet raises sea levels and threatens coastal communities around the globe.
Read about the record-breaking Arctic sea-ice melt in Arctic Sea Ice News & Analysis. Then check out the Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Change Is Here Now Web page and take action by signing our People's Petition to lower atmospheric carbon dioxide levels to 350 ppm.
A New Way for Federal Workers to Donate to the Center
If you're a federal government employee who's also a fan of the Center for Biological Diversity's work to save endangered species and wild places, now there's an easy way to help. The Center is a proud participant in the 2012 Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), a charitable fundraising drive that allows federal government employees, military personnel and postal workers across the globe to donate to nonprofits through their employers. It's the largest employer-sponsored fundraising drive in the world, soliciting about 4 million employees and raising more than $281.5 million annually. This global campaign is actually made up of about 200 local campaigns operating under a common set of government regulations.
The 2012 CFC season runs from Sept. 1 through Dec. 15, but you'll need to check with your employer or local campaign to get the exact start date for designating donations; most run for 45 days and start around Oct. 1. The Center is a member of the Conservation & Preservation Charities of America and the Independent Charities of America. To designate the Center for all or a portion of your Combined Federal Campaign gift, please use our specific agency code (61427) on the paper pledge form in your local office or online at the campaign's website. Contact us with questions or check out the CFC's website for more details and to find your local campaign office.
Wild & Weird: Evolutionary Poetry of the Wet-dog Shake -- Watch Video
Why, after a muddy puddle-romp or a midday rain, do dogs, foxes, polar bears, jaguars and other mammals shake their wet bodies like convulsing maniacs, drenching everything? A new study published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface last week provides a detailed answer. Using high-speed videography, fur-particle tracking, and 33 animals ranging in size from mice to bears, the good scientists have discovered that the soggy-shakes are a highly evolved, efficient and elegant oscillation that furry mammals developed to ward off hypothermia. In fact, a dog can fling off 70 percent of the water on its body in just 4 seconds.
According to the study, Fido's post-bath quick-shake is best understood as a "power law relationship between shaking frequency f and body mass M to be f ~ M−0.22 . . . based upon the balance of centrifugal and capillary forces." Well, duh. And the astute dog lover should never forget the "novel role for loose mammalian dermal tissue: by whipping around the body, it increases the speed of drops leaving the animal and the ensuing dryness relative to tight dermal tissue."
There you have it. They do it to get dry, and they do it well.
Enjoy the video and read more at io9.
Photo credits: Jaguars courtesy Flickr Commons/Chester Zoo; jaguar courtesy Flickr Common/Bob8son; gray wolf courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Martin Mecnarowski; plastic on a beach courtesy NOAA; sea raspberry coral courtesy Flickr Commons/dachalan; Georgetown salamander courtesy R.D. Bartlett; cactus ferruginous pygmy owl by Chan Robbins, USGS; smokestacks courtesy NASA; CFC logo courtesy Combined Federal Campaign; dog shaking water off courtesy Flickr Commons/yakk0.org.
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