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Deal Will Safeguard Habitat for Loggerhead Sea Turtles -- Take Action

Loggerhead sea turtleEndangered loggerhead sea turtles just won an important new federal commitment to protect some of their most important habitat, thanks to a settlement between the Center for Biological Diversity, our allies and the U.S. government. Under the new agreement the feds must propose specific protections for the ancient animals' feeding, breeding and migratory areas by July -- in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. In March, the government proposed to protect 739 miles of loggerheads' nesting beach habitat. The new agreement says final protections for all areas must be in place by July 2014.

Critical habitat designation for loggerheads is essential to their recovery and won't limit public access to beaches; it requires that activities in protected habitat be reviewed for federal approval to ensure they won't hurt the turtles' chance at survival.

"Protecting sea turtle nesting habitat will not only help sea turtles -- but everyone who enjoys clean and healthy beaches," says Jacki Lopez, the Center's Florida-based attorney.

Read more in the Los Angeles Times. Then take action to urge the feds to finalize habitat protections, and check out our interactive map of the areas proposed.

Center Op-ed: Don't Pull the Plug on Wolf Recovery

Gray wolfAny day now, we expect the Obama administration to propose a rule that will prematurely strip Endangered Species Act protection for wolves across most of the lower 48 states. When that happens, we'll be calling on you to fight this bad decision. As Noah Greenwald, the Center's endangered species program director, says in a new op-ed in The Huffington Post, wolves today wander in just 5 percent of their historic habitat in the continental United States.

"If it's enacted, this rule will put a tragic end to one of the most important wildlife recovery stories in America's history," Noah writes. "It's simply far too early to declare victory."

Around the country, there are vast tracts of land that scientists have determined have the space and prey to support healthy wolf populations. We can't let the Obama administration walk away from wolf recovery with the job left unfinished.

Stay tuned to hear how you can help when the new rule is announced, and read more in Noah's Huffington Post op-ed.

After Fracking Win, Oil and Gas Lease Sales Called Off in Calif.

Fracking rigJust weeks after the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club won a major victory against fracking in California, the Bureau of Land Management has postponed all oil and gas lease sales in the Golden State for the rest of the fiscal year. The court ruling last month found that the Obama administration violated the law by leasing California's public land for oil development without considering the risks of fracking.

The BLM originally cited only sequester-related budget cuts as the reason for postponing oil and gas leases in California for this year -- but lease sales continue in other states, and the agency ultimately acknowledged that the Center's lawsuit win influenced their cancellation decision.

"Whether the BLM admits it or not, the agency knows it can't lawfully hold additional lease sales in California without a full environmental review of the serious risks fracking poses to our air, water and wildlife," says the Center's Brendan Cummings. "The BLM's decision to cancel planned lease sales in California for 2013 is a welcome sign that the agency finally recognizes that its rubber-stamp approach to oil leasing is no longer viable."

Read more in the San Jose Mercury News.

New Northern Rockies Office Will Protect Grizzlies, Wolves, Other Area Species

Grizzly bearWe're excited to announce the opening of a new Center for Biological Diversity Northern Rockies office, to be headed by scientist and veteran conservation advocate Louisa Willcox. Based in Montana, Louisa and the Northern Rockies office will allow the Center to expand its advocacy for endangered species -- including grizzlies, wolves, lynx, bison, grayling, sage grouse and fishers -- and their habitats in the region.

The Center has successfully achieved protection for a variety of species and habitats in the northern Rockies. Earlier this year we secured proposed Endangered Species Act protection for American wolverines through a historic agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Under this same agreement, the agency will decide whether to protect Montana grayling in the Big Hole River next year.

"I'm thrilled that the Center is expanding its capacity in the region," says Louisa. "With vast stretches of mountains and prairie and pristine waters, the northern Rockies still harbor many species that have disappeared elsewhere in the lower 48 states."

Read more in our press release.

Feds Weaken Proposed Protection for Lesser Prairie Chickens

Lesser prairie chickenThe U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has just revised its proposed listing rule for lesser prairie chickens to include a special "4(d)" loophole in the Endangered Species Act that would allow destruction of the birds' habitat, in particular through farming, to continue unimpeded. The prairie chicken, a kind of western grouse famous for its unique, elaborate, and comical mating displays, has been on the waiting list for protection since 1998 and was proposed for protection under the Center's 757 species agreement.

Ominously, federal reliance on the 4(d) loophole appears to be increasing: The same rule was used to weaken protection for polar bears and has been proposed for wolverines as well. Lesser prairie chickens' range (in Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas) has been reduced by more than 90 percent, and their population has declined by about 85 percent since the 1800s due to habitat loss and degradation from forces like grazing, agriculture, and oil and gas extraction.

"Lesser prairie chickens are amazing birds -- funny and beautiful. We should do everything we can to protect them and their prairie home for our children and grandchildren to see," says the Center's Jay Lininger.

Read more in the Alamogordo Daily News.

Raising Voices Against Mountaintop Mining -- Take Action

Toxic runoff from mountaintop removal miningAs part of End Mountaintop Removal Week in Washington, D.C., Appalachian residents this week brought toxic water from their homes to the headquarters of the EPA and members of Congress.

Urging federal action to protect water quality from coal mining in Appalachia, citizens -- with the support of the Center and other groups like Alliance for Appalachia -- are calling on the EPA to develop a rule that would create strong water-quality standards. We're also urging Congress to put a moratorium on mountaintop-removal coal-mining permits until the impacts of pollution from the radical form of mining have been addressed.

Numerous studies have linked mountaintop removal with human illnesses and with deformities in downstream wildlife.

Take action today by contacting your representatives -- demand federal action to protect people and endangered species in Appalachia from mountaintop removal.

On May 17, Celebrate Endangered Species Day, 40 Years of ESA Success

Bald eagleAll year the Center for Biological Diversity is teaming up with the Endangered Species Coalition to mark the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act -- and we're doing something special this month to celebrate Endangered Species Day on May 17. We need your help to make it happen.

Some of our nation's most iconic species, including bald eagles, grizzly bears and crocodiles, were all heading for extinction before being rescued by the Endangered Species Act. It has a remarkable track record: About 99 percent of the more than 1,400 species protected by the Act have been saved from extinction, and hundreds are on the road to recovery.

Please join our select group of ESActivists today to share the Act's success through letters to the editor and by educating your friends and neighbors on the need to protect biodiversity. Then join us this month at an Endangered Species Day celebration event.

Biodiversity Briefing: Protecting Our Predators

JaguarOften misunderstood and maligned, predators like grizzly bears and wolves have been pushed out of their native habitats as people (and their buildings and livestock) have moved in. On top of that, many have been hunted, trapped and killed to near extinction. And as the human population grows and climate change worsens, so do threats to these ecologically important wildlife.

This is the topic of our latest Biodiversity Briefing phone call with Leadership Circle and Legacy Society members, in which Center for Biological Diversity Executive Director Kierán Suckling discussed our work defending key predators like grizzly bears, gray wolves, jaguars, polar bears, Pacific fishers, Puget Sound orcas and more as we ramp up our predator-protection work. To build on scores of past predator victories -- from securing 120 million acres of "critical habitat" for polar bears to winning Puget Sound orcas protections -- we've hired two new expert conservation organizers to expand our efforts to defend wolves along the West Coast, safeguard grizzly bears in the Rocky Mountains and help protect other predators across the country.

Listen to a recording of Kierán's exclusive briefing now, and consider joining the Center's Leadership Circle or Legacy Society to be part of these briefings and Q&A sessions live, when they happen. Learn more about how to join and be part of these briefings on our website, or email or call Major Gifts Associate Julie Ragland, (520) 623-5252 x 304.

Wild & Weird: If Sharks Made Their Own Jaws

Great white sharkEver watch the Discovery Channel's Shark Week marathon or the film Jaws and decide to cancel your beach vacation? A new infographic titled "Shark Attack" will help put that fear into perspective. Using stark and staggeringly simple units of measurement, the infographic demonstrates that, while roughly 12 people are killed by sharks every year, a total of 11,417 sharks are killed by people every hour. That's more than 100 million sharks killed each year.

If sharks were ever to produce their own creature feature, it would most certainly star a bloodthirsty human trolling the oceans to slice off shark fins.

Check out this sobering shark attack infographic and learn about attempts to ban shark-fin trading in Texas from CBS News.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: grizzly bear cubs courtesy the U.S. National Park Service; loggerhead sea turtle by Tom Moore, NOAA; gray wolf courtesy Flickr/Stone Horse Studios; fracking rig courtesy Flickr/Justin Woolford; grizzly bear by Robin Silver, Center for Biological Diversity; lesser prairie chicken by Greg Kramos, USFWS; toxic runoff from mountaintop removal mining courtesy Flickr/; bald eagle courtesy USFWS; jaguar courtesy Flickr/Shawn Kinkade; great white shark courtesy La Jolla Elementary School.

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