Center for Biological Diversity

Coquí llanero (c) Neftali Rios

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2012 has been a record-breaking year for endangered species protection. The Center for Biological Diversity won positive Endangered Species Act decisions for 104 species, bringing them one step closer to protection, under our 757 agreement. We won final protections for 33 species, including two Arctic seals, Puerto Rico's coquí llanero tree frog, southeastern mussels, 23 Hawaiian plants and insects and a San Francisco plant once believed to have vanished forever from the wild. We also won more than 31 million acres of protected habitat for wildlife, an area larger than Pennsylvania. And that's only the tip of the iceberg -- please read on for more of the year's highlights.

To see much of the Center's 2012 work on a single interactive map, go here. Please consider also making a generous gift today to ensure we can keep winning victories in 2013. Click here to donate -- your gift will be matched one-to-one to do twice the good in the new year.

Saving Endangered Species

Gray wolfBesides gaining the crucial new protections mentioned above for well over 100 species under our 757 species agreement, as well as new help for species not covered in the agreement, the Center this year sustained a forceful defense of the Endangered Species Act itself against those in Congress who want to weaken it. Our campaign included the release of an important study, On Time, On Target: How the Endangered Species Act Is Saving America's Wildlife, showing that 90 percent of 110 species analyzed are right on track for recovery.

The Center won initial approval for our petition to protect gray wolves under the California Endangered Species Act and launched an ambitious new campaign to protect and restore wolves along the West Coast -- while at the same time fighting on multiple fronts to protect all other wolf populations across the country. We filed the largest petition of its kind to protect 53 frogs, turtles, lizards, snakes and salamanders across the United States, and we petitioned the White House Council on Environmental Quality to take immediate action to stem the spread of white-nose syndrome, the epidemic that has killed nearly 7 million bats across the eastern United States and is quickly moving west.

Learn more about our work to protect endangered species.

Curbing Climate Change

Polar bearsIn 2012 the Center's Clean Air Cities campaign, which organizes cities across the country to push our national leaders to use the Clean Air Act to fight climate change, signed up more than 40 cities -- including Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, Detroit and Miami -- to join our powerful, momentum-building effort, which now includes cities in 28 states.

We conducted a high-profile media blitz on the importance of addressing the climate crisis through news stories, op-eds and TV and radio interviews; and we launched federal litigation challenging the Bureau of Land Management for failing to properly evaluate the threat posed by fracking to endangered species and a healthy climate on California's public lands.

Learn more about our work on climate change.

Aid for the Melting Arctic

Ringed sealIn an Arctic increasingly injured by global warming, the Center this year continued to challenge Shell Oil's attempt to drill for oil, including a lawsuit over air-pollution permits, and the organization and mobilization of thousands of people to speak out in letters and videos to President Barack Obama.

We sued the Obama administration for delaying federal protection of two ice-dependent Arctic seals threatened by climate change and industrialization and, at year's end, secured those protections. We also filed a major scientific petition to protect 43 species of Alaskan cold-water corals under the Endangered Species Act.

Learn more about our work to save the Arctic.

Innovative Action for the World's Oceans

Orange clownfish2012 saw the launch of the Center's new Endangered Oceans campaign, highlighting the far-reaching effects of ocean acidification on sea life and calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to develop a national plan to address the crisis. And that wasn't the only first for our oceans program: We also secured a proposal to protect 66 corals under the Endangered Species Act; filed the first-ever petition to establish a Superfund site to clean up plastics pollution in the ocean, around the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands; and unveiled a groundbreaking ocean plastics project urging the EPA to regulate ocean plastics as a pollutant under the Clean Water Act.

We sought Endangered Species Act protection for the orange clownfish -- featured in Finding Nemo -- and seven similarly coral-dependent damselfish threatened by climate change, ocean acidification and the marine aquarium trade. We petitioned for Endangered Species Act protection of great white sharks along the West Coast and achieved protection for false killer whales from death in Hawaiian longlines.

Learn more about our work to save oceans and sea life.

Protecting Our Wild and Public Lands

Baby leatherback sea turtleIn our work to save public and high-value lands from short-term profiteering at the expense of our country's natural heritage, the Center this year won several notable victories, including an appeal requiring more protection for nine endangered fish that live along the 700-mile route of the Ruby pipeline and a series of court rulings in Southern California protecting wildlife habitat and wild places from development, including at Newhall Ranch and Fanita Ranch.

We stopped a proposed mega-development near the 19,000-acre San Jacinto Wildlife Area, one of Southern California's most important wildlife refuges, and won a court battle to overturn a U.S. Forest Service decision allowing cattle grazing across a 42,000-acre area of the Fossil Creek watershed on the Coconino National Forest in central Arizona. Internationally, we helped defeat the Vía Verde gas pipeline in Puerto Rico, which would have hurt animals from treefrogs to toads to leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles and left a swath of environmental destruction in its wake.

Learn more about our work to save wildlands and urban wildlands.

Safeguards for Habitats

Western snowy ploverEndangered animals and plants with protected "critical habitat" are twice as likely to be recovering as species without such habitat set aside for them, so achieving legally binding protections for the lands and waters that support endangered species has always been central to the Center's conservation strategy.

In 2012 we won protection for 9.6 million acres of critical habitat for northern spotted owls in the Northwest; more than 40,000 acres for 23 newly protected Oahu species in Hawaii; 10,000 acres in Arizona and New Mexico for Chiricahua leopard frogs; 24,000 acres for western snowy plovers in Washington, Oregon and California; 6,500 acres for Mississippi gopher frogs; and proposed protection of 838,000 acres of critical habitat for jaguars in southern Arizona and New Mexico -- as well as a breathtaking 40,000 square miles of protected habitat along the coasts of Washington, Oregon and California for Pacific leatherback sea turtles.

Learn more about our work to protect critical habitat.

Tackling the Pressures of Human Population Growth

Endangered Species CondomsThe Center's human population campaign distributed more than 150,000 Endangered Species Condoms to more than 1,000 volunteers around the country this year to jump-start conversations about human population growth and its relationship to the extinction of other species. We launched our tongue-in-cheek "Hump Smarter Hotline," a toll-free service for New Year's Eve urging callers to think about panthers, polar bears and other endangered species before taking an impromptu and perhaps unprotected roll in the sheets; and we spread the news to reporters around the country on the planet's new 7 billion population tally and the importance of slowing that growth.

Learn more about our work to address human population pressures.

Toxics: Getting the Lead Out

Bald eagleThe Center's new toxics campaign fought hard against the National Rifle Association and its partners in Congress in 2012 over their efforts to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating lead hunting ammunition that kills millions of wild birds and other animals every year, as well as posing health risks to people who eat tainted game. This included a hard-hitting, full-page ad in The New York Times.

We sued the federal government for failing to fully implement new air-quality standards for lead, required under the Clean Air Act, and also sued to protect wildlife from lead poisoning in Arizona's Kaibab National Forest. And finally, we secured a much-needed settlement for the government to clean up toxic lead paint on the Pacific's Midway Atoll, which was killing up to 10,000 seabird chicks every year.

Learn more about our work to protect wildlife from toxics.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: coquí llanero (c) Neftali Rios; gray wolf courtesy Flickr/Sakarri; polar bears by Scott Schliebe, USFWS; ringed seal courtesy the National Marine Mammal Laboratory; orange clownfish courtesy Flickr/Jeff Kubina; leatherback sea turtle courtesy Flickr/jimmyweee; western snowy plover courtesy USGS; Endangered Species Condoms by Russ McSpadden, Center for Biological Diversity, design (c) Lori Lieber and artwork (c) Roger Peet; bald eagle courtesy Flickr/Pen Waggener.

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