Center for Biological Diversity

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A Month of Action Against Keystone XL -- Join Us

Polar bear maskIf we're going to stop the Keystone XL pipeline and the destruction it'll bring to our wildlife and climate, we must make our opposition impossible to ignore. So the Center for Biological Diversity is launching a month of action against Keystone, and we need your help. Protests can come in almost any form, big or small, as long as they're visible. Put a sign up in your car windshield or on your lawn; gather your friends and stage a protest in your hometown; host a teach-in at a local park or do a polar bear protest on your college campus.

We're making it easy for you -- check out our new Web page,, where you'll find printable protest signs and polar bear masks, an easy-to-print factsheet and copies of our anti-Keystone pledge for you and your friends to sign. Anyone can take part in the month of action -- sign up now to get involved.

We're also taking this protest to Facebook. For the month of May, we're asking our activists to switch their profile photo to our "No Keystone" icon. Thanks for standing with us.

Cruel Trap Kills Sister of Wandering Wolf OR-7

Gray wolvesWe just learned that the sister of Oregon's renowned canine adventurer OR-7, the first wild gray wolf to set foot in California in nearly 90 years, has been killed.

OR-5, a 3-year-old member of Oregon's Imnaha pack, died in a painful foothold trap in Idaho on March 30, the next-to-last day of the Idaho trapping season. The Imnaha pack is quickly diminishing: In addition to the loss of OR-5, the pack's OR-9 wolf was shot last year by an Idaho man under an expired hunting license. And OR-16, of the Wenaha pack, was shot earlier this year while trotting along an Idaho ridgetop.

The latest wolf deaths come just as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service readies a plan to remove Endangered Species Act protections for wolves across much of the rest of the lower 48, including the Northwest, California, southern Rocky Mountains and Northeast, where wolves are just beginning to recover. The Center for Biological Diversity -- the only group fighting for wolves across the lower 48 -- will continue opposing efforts to pull the plug on wolf recovery.

Read more in the Los Angeles Times.

U.S. Study: EPA Fails to Protect Wildlife From Pesticides

Florida pantherA report released Tuesday by the National Academy of Sciences outlined problems with the EPA's oversight of dangerous pesticides -- pesticides hurting endangered species across the country. The study found that the EPA has not relied on the best scientific information; has not effectively coordinated with wildlife agencies; and has not adequately analyzed the effects of pesticides on wildlife.

"This should jump-start a major reform of the EPA's deeply flawed approach to approving powerful pesticides," says the Center's Jonathan Evans. "Our most endangered species and our own health are jeopardized by pesticides because the agency has continually ignored its duty, deferring to the chemical industry instead of listening to experts on wildlife about how to save endangered species from toxins."

In 2011 the Center filed a landmark lawsuit to force the EPA to consult on pesticides' effects on more than 200 endangered and threatened species, including Florida panthers, California condors and black-footed ferrets. Tuesday's report was prompted in part by our cases.

Read more in E&E News.

Court Stops Safari Club's Attempt to Halt Historic Species Agreement

WolverineA federal appeals court this week rejected yet another attempt by Safari Club International to derail an agreement secured by the Center to get protection decisions for 757 plants and animals around the country. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia denied a challenge by the hunting group in January. The group asked for another hearing on the agreement, but on Monday that request was denied.

So far the 757 species agreement reached in 2011 has yielded Endangered Species Act protection for 56 animals and plants, including Miami blue butterflies, coquí llanero frogs and Ozark hellbenders (North America's largest amphibians). Another 96 have been proposed for protection, including American wolverines, Austin blind salamanders and streaked horned larks. Just last week protections were proposed for Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frogs and Yosemite toads, along with more than 2 million acres of protected habitat for these rare mountain-dwelling animals.

Learn more about our 757 agreement.

Sanctions Sought to Stop Sea Turtle Killing in Mexican Fisheries

Loggerhead sea turtleEvery year Mexican fisheries off southern Baja California accidentally catch -- and kill -- more than 2,000 endangered loggerhead turtles. Just last summer sea turtle strandings reached a record high when 483 loggerhead sea turtles were found dead along a 25-mile stretch of coast -- 600 percent more than average. Baja California Sur has the highest concentration of sea turtle strandings in the world and is considered a bycatch "hotspot" because so many Mexican fisheries overlap key sea turtle feeding grounds.

In response to the ongoing mass deaths, the Center and partners petitioned on Tuesday for trade sanctions against Mexico, launching a legal process we hope will ban some Mexican fish imports until the country stops its turtle massacre.

"Mexico needs common-sense measures to prevent its fishermen from entangling, hooking and killing thousands of loggerheads yearly," says Center attorney Sarah Uhlemann. "These amazing animals have been around since the dinosaurs -- but if we don't do everything we can to help them they'll wink out overnight."

Get more from eNews Park Forest.

In Memoriam: Peter Warshall

Peter WarshallLast week we said goodbye to Peter Warshall (1940-2013), ecologist, activist, bio-cultural anthropologist, coyote spirit and essayist. In a remarkable life working for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Ethiopia, managing wastewater systems for Malibu and Bolinas in California, working with the Tohono O'odham and Apache in Arizona, directing Dreaming New Mexico, serving as an editor of the Whole Earth Catalog and Whole Earth Review, teaching at the Naropa Institute's Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, and studying endangered species, Peter displayed an infectious warmth, intellect, wry humor and informed naïveté.

My favorite memory of Peter is of a breakfast he organized to welcome poets William Pitt Root and Pamela Uschuk to town. We arrived at 8 a.m. not knowing that when Peter talks philosophy, evolution, art and politics, the conversation will outlast the day. Moving with the sun around his shaded yard for seven hours, we had breakfast, then lunch, and were finally asked to stay for dinner before we wandered off dazed and happy. Two of my favorite quotes from Peter:

"Wilderness advocates and restorationists need to relish how time and unique landscape imagery entice humans into a care for nature; how devotion to a cared-for heap of glacial rocks recasts the rocks as an animated and even animist locale. With desire comes the energy to secure a place as sacred. And once sacred, its longevity (except for wars and revolutions) has been ensured."

How to better understand nature: "Outdoors. Look."

Take Peter's watershed home quiz to see if you know where you live.

Study: White-nose Fungus Could Wipe Out Indiana Bats

Indiana batA scientific study released last week brought ominous news: Endangered Indiana bats will virtually disappear within about 10 years from large portions of their range because of white-nose syndrome, the bat epidemic that has killed nearly 7 million animals since it appeared in 2006 and is rapidly spreading west and south.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, more than 90 percent of the total Indiana bat population -- ranging from New England to the Ozarks, with a midwestern stronghold -- will be exposed to the disease within the next two decades.

"These findings paint a stark picture of a species heading directly for the abyss," says Mollie Matteson, the Center's bat specialist. "We need to be moving aggressively toward stemming the spread of this deadly disease."

We petitioned in 2010 to protect three bat species under the Endangered Species Act and have been working for years to urge federal support for combating white-nose syndrome. Beyond their lives' intrinsic value, bats give U.S. farmers about $22 billion in pest-control services every year.

Read our press release and the study.

Calif. Fracking Bills Clear First Hurdle With Lawmakers -- Take Action

California frackingMonday was a big day in our fight against fracking in California. The state assembly's Natural Resources Committee passed three bills that would place a moratorium on fracking while studies are conducted on how the controversial practice affects California's environment and public health.

Included in Monday's vote was A.B. 1301, sponsored by the Center for Biological Diversity and partners and supported by more than 130 other public-interest organizations.

Oil and gas wells have been fracked in at least nine California counties without fracking-specific regulation or even monitoring by state oil and gas officials. Fracking uses huge volumes of water mixed with sand and toxic chemicals -- including known carcinogens -- to blast apart rock formations and release previously inaccessible fossil fuels. It releases methane that worsens the climate crisis and threatens wildlife, clean air and clean water. The three new bills now go to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Read more in The Huffington Post and, if you live in the Golden State, take action against California fracking.

Wild & Weird: The Lost Civilization in Your Belly Button

Belly buttonEver wonder what's going on in that innie or outie left over from your umbilical connection in the womb? The short answer: probably far, far more than you ever wanted to know.

A team of scientists with the Belly Button Biodiversity project (yes, a real undertaking) has collected swabs from hundreds of people and discovered diverse organisms dwelling in our navels, including many that are completely new to science. (Living on an individual who claimed he never washes, the team even found certain types of Archaea that often dwell in oceans and sewers.) The average belly button contains 50 species, mostly bacteria; more than 2,300 species have been found in different belly buttons so far.

Interestingly, biomathematical analysis seems to show that there are two groups of people in the world, belly button-wise: That is, we each have one of two different kinds of bacterial belly-button ecosystems. The mystery of what determines this belly-button identity has not yet been solved.

To learn more about this groundbreaking navel-gazing project, check out Belly Button Biodiversity and listen to this NPR interview.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: No Keystone and polar bear mask images by Russ McSpadden, Center for Biological Diversity; gray wolves courtesy Flickr/Sakarri; Florida panther courtesy Flickr/Nick Jewell; wolverine by Audrey Magoun, USFWS; loggerhead sea turtle courtesy Flickr/USFWS Northeast Region; Peter Warshall courtesy Flickr/Dawn Allynn; Indiana bat by Adam Mann, Environmental Solutions and Innovations; California fracking courtesy Flickr/Justin Woolford; belly button courtesy Flickr/Guillaume Laurent.

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