Three U.S. Turtles Win International Protection
Every year more than 2 million live, wild turtles are snatched from the United States and exported to Asia, destined for slaughter for the food and medicinal markets. Thanks in part to a 2011 Center for Biological Diversity petition, the international community has taken notice and acted.
Last week parties to the Convention on Trade in International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) voted to regulate and monitor international trade in Blanding's turtles, spotted turtles and diamondback terrapins. In 2012 the Center petitioned to protect the Blanding's and spotted turtles, along with 51 other imperiled reptiles and amphibians, under the Endangered Species Act.
"Turtle traders are depleting U.S. populations at a frightening rate. It's got to stop soon or we're going to lose these incredible animals from the wild," says the Center's Collette Adkins Giese. "Commercial trade only compounds the problems native turtles already face from habitat destruction, water pollution and being hit and killed by cars."
Get more from Motherboard.
Millions of Marine Mammals Saved From Harmful Sonar
After opposition from the Center for Biological Diversity and others, the California Coastal Commission has rejected a dangerous plan by the U.S. Navy to engage in sonar and explosives training that would cause permanent hearing loss in an estimated 1,600 whales and other marine animals -- including endangered blue whales -- and result in more than 100 fatalities off Southern California.
The Navy's plan would also cause millions of cases of temporary hearing loss and significant disruptions of vital behaviors. Navy sonar has been implicated in the hearing loss and subsequent mass strandings of marine mammals like whales. Even one low-frequency, active-sonar loudspeaker can be as loud as a twin-engine fighter jet at takeoff, yet the Navy frequently uses high-intensity, mid-frequency sonar. Underwater explosives not only threaten marine mammals' hearing but also cause grave physical damage such as hemorrhages and other kinds of tissue trauma.
We celebrated this latest victory with the California Coastal Commission, but we're also watchdogging the Navy's other planned deadly war games: Earlier this year, the National Marine Fisheries Service proposed to allow the Navy to harm marine mammals up to 9.5 million times off the coasts of Hawaii and Southern California and 21.8 million times in the Atlantic over five years.
Read more in our press release.
Tell Senators to Reject Keystone XL -- Take Action
The U.S. Senate could vote as early as Tuesday on whether the disastrous Keystone XL pipeline gets built. We can't let that happen. The 1,700-mile pipeline would, every day, carry up to 35 million gallons of oil strip-mined from Canada's tar sands -- some of the dirtiest, most climate-hostile fuels on the planet. The pipeline would also cut through rivers, streams, and wildlife habitat for at least 20 imperiled species, including whooping cranes and pallid sturgeon.
If we're going to stop this destructive behemoth in its tracks, we need to show massive opposition. This week that means joining the Center for Biological Diversity to contact your senators and tell them to reject Keystone XL, a project that leading climate scientist Dr. James Hansen says will be game "over" for our ability to avoid a climate catastrophe -- a project even the State Department admits could spill 100 times over the course of its lifetime.
Please stand with the Center today in calling on the Senate to reject Keystone.
Washington State Lawmakers Want to Make Wolf Killing Easier -- Fight Back
Washington state's wolves are finally making a comeback, but some state lawmakers want to make sure their recovery is short-lived. On Friday the state senate approved a bill allowing the state wildlife commission to write rules allowing ranchers to kill endangered wolves and other predators without a permit -- even if they're not attacking livestock.
The state's first confirmed breeding pair of wolves in decades was confirmed in 2008. Since then, with federal and state protections in place, the state's wolf population has grown to nine confirmed packs and two probable packs, numbering at least 51 wolves.
Unfortunately state lawmakers are making a concerted effort to push wolves off the landscape -- something we're seeing in other parts of the country, too. The Center for Biological Diversity's organizers and lawyers are rapidly ramping up our work to defend wolves; it will be a tough fight against powerful special-interest anti-wolf groups, and we need your help. Please give today to our Wolf Defense Fund and share this on Facebook.
New York Times, L.A. Times Feature Center's 757 Settlement, Population Campaign
The Center for Biological Diversity garnered some high-profile media recently on both coasts, touting the wide-ranging impacts of our 757 species settlement (The New York Times) and a recent poll that sharply demonstrates the urgency of our population campaign and its conversation-starting Endangered Species Condoms (the Los Angeles Times).
Discussing our 757 settlement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service -- which is benefiting species from the Oregon spotted frog to the wolverine -- the prominent New York Times feature reported: "It is the most feverish activity on imperiled wildlife in two decades, an improbable feat amid ferocious attacks from conservative critics and in an economy with little money to spare."
The Los Angeles Times piece on population highlighted a poll the Center recently commissioned showing that "[n]early two-thirds of American voters believe that human population growth is driving other animal species to extinction and that if the situation gets worse, society has a 'moral responsibility to address the problem,' " as the Times put it. The Center, read the article, "unlike other environmental groups has targeted population growth as part of its campaign to save wildlife species from extinction."
Read the full New York Times and Los Angeles Times articles.
World Fails to Ban International Trade in Polar Bear Parts
A U.S. proposal to ban the international commercial trade in polar bear parts was defeated last week by parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Countries voted to allow the destructive polar bear rug trade, primarily through Canada, to continue, despite strong support from Russia of the U.S.-backed ban.
About 800 polar bears are killed by hunters every year, primarily in the Canadian Arctic; half of these bears' skins end up in international trade. Because polar bears are coming under severe pressure from sea-ice melt caused by climate change, and are unlikely to survive under multiple threats, in 2012 the Center for Biological Diversity formally requested that the United States sanction Canada for violating the 1973 Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears -- a treaty that prohibits polar bear hunting unless conducted under "sound conservation practices."
"The world failed polar bears today," the Center's Sarah Uhlemann said of the ban's failure in Bangkok. "But the United States has other avenues to pressure Canada to curtail its unsustainable hunt. We urge the Obama administration to act quickly to impose trade sanctions as required by U.S. law."
Read more in Discovery News and then take action today to save polar bears at SavethePolarBear.org.
Washington, D.C., Joins National Call for Climate Action
All three places that President Obama calls home are now urging him to tackle the climate crisis. City councils in Chicago and Kauai last year joined the Center for Biological Diversity's Clean Air Cities campaign, which calls on the president and the EPA to harness the Clean Air Act to address climate change. Now Obama's other home, Washington, D.C., is urging the same.
D.C. is already being hammered by climate change. Last year city residents slogged through the most intense heat wave on record, and more of the same is expected in the coming decades. There's also a growing risk of flooding, infectious disease and pollution. The D.C. Council approved its Clean Air Cities resolution unanimously, making it the 48th community in the United States to join the Center's campaign.
Read more in our press release; find out how to make your community the next Clean Air City.
Bat-killing Disease Hits South Carolina, Georgia
The deadly march of white-nose syndrome carries on: This week, wildlife officials announced the disease -- which has already killed 7 million bats in North America -- has now reached Georgia and South Carolina.
In the seven years since it showed up in upstate New York, it's swept into 22 states and five Canadian provinces. Scientists fear the continued spread of the disease, which strikes bats during hibernation, could wipe out many of North America's two-dozen hibernating bat species. The Center for Biological Diversity continues to call for an all-out effort to stem the spread of the disease, including closing caves on public land in all but scientific or emergency circumstances to lessen the risk that white-nose is spread by people.
"It's chillingly clear that the next frontier for this devastating disease is the western United States and the many, many bat species that live there," says Mollie Matteson, a bat advocate at the Center. "But even now, our government officials keep allowing cave visitors to come and go in most western caves on federal land -- as though nothing has changed in the past seven years. That needs to stop, or bat populations across the West may crash."
Read more in the Summit County Citizens Voice, learn more about the Center's campaign at SaveOurBats.org and like our bat page on Facebook.
Suit Filed Over Uranium Mine Threatening Grand Canyon
The Center for Biological Diversity, Havasupai tribe and two other organizations have sued the U.S. Forest Service for green-lighting operations at the "Canyon" uranium mine near Grand Canyon National Park without completing -- or even starting -- formal tribal consultations, and without updating a federal environmental review written in 1986.
These steps are crucial because the mine lies within an area of critical religious and cultural importance to the Havasupai and other tribes, could harm wildlife (including endangered species like the California condor), and would risk polluting and depleting precious groundwater for wells and springs in and around the Grand Canyon.
The mine also falls within the 1-million-acre "mineral withdrawal," aka mining halt, approved by the Obama administration in January 2012 to protect Grand Canyon's watershed from new uranium mining impacts. The ban -- spurred by litigation and pressure from the Center and allies -- prohibits new mining claims and development on old claims lacking "valid existing rights." The Forest Service last year granted those rights for the Canyon mine, but as the Center's Taylor McKinnon said, "Sacrificing water, culture and wildlife for the uranium industry was a bad idea in 1986; doing so now while ignoring 27 years of new information is absurd."
Read more in E&E News.
Go Solar With the Center
Spring is finally upon us, and the Center for Biological Diversity is excited to share an opportunity that could reap triple advantages -- helping save the climate, save you money on your electricity bill, and save species by supporting the Center and all the imperiled animals and plants we work for.
Dozens of our supporters have already gotten home solar while simultaneously raising funds for the Center by participating in this unique and affordable way to lease solar panels: If you live in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey or New York, award-winning home-solar installer Sungevity will set up panels on your home for free when you sign up to lease the panels on a monthly basis. Not only will you save up to 15 percent on your pre-solar electricity bills, but during only the month of March, Sungevity will give you a $750 credit and grant the Center $750 to help us defend endangered species like pikas, scarlet Hawaiian honeycreepers and polar bears from human threats like global warming -- all while doing your part to save our atmosphere about 8.24 metric tons of CO2 a year and help save the whole planet from catastrophic climate change.
Sign up with Sungevity by March 31 here or copy and paste this link into your browser: http://www.sungevity.org/center-biological-diversity.
Once you request a quote, Sungevity will contact you with a quote and more info on your lease and how much you can save. Please contact Sungevity at email@example.com or call 1-866-SUN4ALL (866-786-4255) with questions.
Wild & Weird: Snoligosters, Gumberoos and Other Extinct Imaginary Beasts
In 1910 William Thomas Cox, Minnesota's first state forester, completed a fantasy field guide to the wild, imaginary beasts of the United States. Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods is full of tall tales that Cox recorded from logging camps.
Meet the "snoligoster," an immense crocodilian swamp monster of the Southeast that, limbless, moved through the mire hunting woodcutters by way of a propeller-tipped tail; get to know the "tote-road shagamaw," a northeastern biped that could swap hooves for paws, confusing loggers by leaving tracks that changed from moose to bear and back again.
Cox's lumberjack yarns were retold from camp to camp and evolved as loggers left the felled forests of the East for virgin groves out West, where he collected stories of even more critters -- for example, the hairless "gumberoo" of the Pacific Coast, a bear-like creature with rubber buttocks that could bounce bullets back at hunters.
Read the full version of this fanciful guide to the mythical monsters of American logger culture.
Photo credits: Blandings turtle courtesy Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife; blue whale courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Mike Baird; Keystone pipeline courtesy Wikimedia Commons; gray wolf courtesy Flickr/francoismi; Oregon spotted frog courtesy USFWS; polar bear courtesy FlickrCommons/Longhorndave; Washington D.C. courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Andrew Bossi; little brown bat courtesy Ryan Von Linden, N.Y. Department of Environmental Conservation; California condor courtesy Scott Frier, USFWS; Go Solar! photo courtesy Sungevity; tote-road shagamaw illustration by Coert du Bois.
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