Center for Biological Diversity

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Report: 5 Years After Listing, Polar Bears On Thin Ice

On Thin IceFive years ago this week, polar bears were protected under the Endangered Species Act. It was an epic victory following years of tenacious work by the Center for Biological Diversity. But our new analysis finds that polar bears continue to face a difficult future as global warming worsens, sea ice disappears, and the government apparatus meant to protect these magnificent bears shows itself largely indifferent to their fate.

Our new report On Thin Ice sets out five crucial steps needed to ensure polar bears have a future. These include upgrading the bears' status from "threatened" to "endangered," aggressively cutting greenhouse pollution, reducing short-lived pollutants like methane and black carbon, and protecting Arctic habitat from oil and gas drilling. Scientists predict that, without help, more than two-thirds of the world's polar bears could be gone by 2050, including all polar bears in Alaska.

On Wednesday we launched a new lawsuit to get more protections for these great bears of the North.

Read On Thin Ice, learn more about our lawsuit in our press release and take action at

Wolf Decision Would Halt National Recovery -- Take Action

Gray wolfThe U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is on the verge of stopping wolf recovery in its tracks. Any day now the agency is expected to strip Endangered Species Act protection from nearly all wolves in the lower 48 states -- so we need your help to make sure this dangerous prospect doesn't become a reality.

Wolves now occupy just 5 percent of their historic habitat in the continental United States. The Service's plan to strip them of federal protection would mean these intelligent, highly social animals will never be allowed to return to many of their ancestral homelands, including places like the southern Rockies and the Northeast.

Last week the Center joined five other national environmental groups in calling on Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to reject the wolf-delisting proposal. Now we need you to add your voice to this call.

Take action today to call on President Obama to save wolves. You can count on us to keep you updated as this dangerous proposal moves forward.

Victory for Wild Florida, Endangered Manatees

Florida manateeBig thanks to the Center's dedicated supporters in Florida, who can claim partial credit for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' decision last week to deny a permit to a destructive dredging project in the Tampa Bay area that would have needlessly harmed 4 acres of wetlands and 29 acres of important seagrass habitat.

The Center and allies had generated 40,000 signatures opposed to the damaging SunWest development, and the Corps' denial of the permit -- which it said would be "contrary to the public interest" for a host of environmental, economic and safety reasons -- will spare seagrass beds that provide nurseries for fish, shellfish and crustaceans and a bayou that supports endangered manatees and other unique Florida species.

"Thanks to the hard, honest work of dedicated scientists and government employees, Fillman's Bayou will remain the prized gem of Pasco County, and dolphins and manatees will continue to thrive in its waters," said the Center's St. Petersburg-based attorney Jacki Lopez.

Read more in the Tampa Bay Times.

NRA Ignorant of Basic Facts About Lead Ammo's Effects on Condors

California condorIn response to an unusual request from the National Rifle Association -- for information on how lead ammunition poisons endangered California condors -- I sent a letter Tuesday to gun group head honcho Wayne LaPierre. Although the NRA has lobbied aggressively for years to stop efforts to get toxic lead out of hunting ammunition, its letter to the Center betrayed zero knowledge of the actual effects of said lead on said wildlife.

The NRA's letter seemed to reveal ignorance of the recent lead deaths, the source and mechanisms of lead poisoning of condors, the magnitude of the lead-poisoning threat, the status of reintroduced condor populations, and causes of mortality for reintroduced condors -- all of which information is publicly available and published on the websites of agencies and organizations affiliated with the federal California Condor Recovery Program.

Instead of spending millions of dollars to game the political system, maybe it's time for the NRA to invest in some scientific expertise on lead poisoning.

By the way, we'll be facing off with the NRA in court in Washington, D.C., next week as part of our work to get the lead out of hunting ammo.

Read more in our press release.

One Tiny Snail, Another Big Recovery

Magazine Mountain shagreenLooking for the very latest evidence that the Endangered Species Act works? Look no further than Logan County, Ark., wherein dwells a tiny snail called the Magazine Mountain shagreen. And yes, that's its real name.

The snail, found only on the high rocky slopes of the eponymous mountain, was protected under the Act in 1989 because of threats from proposed military training activities and recreational development for a state park. Lifesaving steps were then taken to protect the mountain snail's habitat and monitor its health. On Tuesday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the shagreen has recovered and is being removed from the endangered species list -- the first invertebrate ever declared recovered under the Act. Earlier this year, the agency proposed to declare California's island night lizard recovered.

Check out our press release.

Climate Study Predicts Staggering Habitat Loss by 2080

EarthAs carbon dioxide levels in the world's atmosphere swiftly approach 400 parts per million, a new study in Nature Climate Change says that by 2080, global warming will make more than half of existing habitat for 6 out of 10 plants uninhabitable and do the same for about a third of animal species. But there's still hope: Immediate, strong action to reduce emissions could cut these losses by 60 percent, the study says.

The 400 parts-per-million mark, which carbon levels will likely hit and surpass in the coming weeks, is a crystal-clear sign that greenhouse gas pollution from human sources continues on a steep upward trajectory. "Alarm bells are going off all around the world that our climate is moving in a very dangerous direction," said Shaye Wolf, climate science director at the Center. "Ignoring these signs isn't just irresponsible, it's immoral."

More than 50 cities have now joined the Center's Clean Air Cities campaign, urging President Obama and the EPA to address the climate crisis through the Clean Air Act's science-based programs.

Read more in USA Today.

Celebrate Endangered Species Day -- Share Our Free E-cards

Sea ottersTomorrow is Endangered Species Day -- and a special one, too, since it's falling on a landmark year for the world's strongest law to protect biodiversity. The Endangered Species Act richly deserves to be toasted on its 40th birthday: Over the past four decades, the Act has repeatedly demonstrated its effectiveness. It's prevented extinction for 99 percent of the species under its care, and an estimated 227 species would likely have gone extinct without it; the Act is a wild success.

But that doesn't mean it's forever safe. Like the species it protects, it has to be shored up. Ever since the Act's passage in 1973, industry-influenced politics have threatened its implementation and attempted to weaken its substance through a death of a thousand cuts. We continue to defend and strengthen this vital law, and Endangered Species Day is the perfect time to recharge our (solar) batteries for the fight.

To help you help us in that mission, we've made a batch of free Endangered Species Day e-cards for you to send everyone you know. Plus, we have a brand-new Wild Success website to help you celebrate and take action in honor of the Act's 40th anniversary.

Rare Bat Closer to California Protection

Townsend's big-eared batIn response to a Center petition, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has announced that Townsend's big-eared bats -- insect-eating and highly sensitive creatures -- may warrant protection under the state's Endangered Species Act. Whether the bat is actually protected is now up to the state's Fish and Game Commission, expected to decide in June.

Townsend's big-eared bats like to munch on moths and roost in caves, and have recently declined steeply. Although California hasn't yet encountered white-nose syndrome -- a disease moving westward across the country that's killed nearly 7 million bats -- the epidemic certainly poses a threat, along with habitat destruction and roost-site disturbance.

"These and other bats provide a valuable service for California farmers by eating millions of insects that would otherwise attack crops," said our Endangered Species Director Noah Greenwald. "They need our care if they're going to survive and keep providing this service."

Check out our press release and learn more about white-nose syndrome.

Wild & Weird: 30 Billion Bug Bacchanal

CicadaBetween 30 billion and 1 trillion cicadas -- well rested after a 17-year stint of underground sap-sucking -- are poised to burrow to the surface and take over the East Coast this summer. They'll be hungry, hormonal and looking for love, singing at earsplitting decibel levels to bring down a date.

According to conservative estimates, they'll also outnumber the regional human population (50 million from North Carolina to Connecticut) by about 600 to 1. There are several "broods" of North American cicadas, but the current wave -- "Brood II" -- is a very, very big one. "There will be some places where it's wall-to-wall cicadas," said one entomologist -- meaning a bugfest of Biblical proportions.

Track the emergence of Brood II with WNYC's cicada tracker. Then visit our webpage where you can watch a BBC video on cicadas' odd lifecycles and learn about recipes for these winged "shrimp of the land" from the University of Maryland's cicadamaniacs (tip: The females are meatier).

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: polar bear courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Ansgar Walk; On Thin Ice cover by Douglas Brown; gray wolf courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Retron; Florida manatee courtesy Flickr/USFWS; California condor (c) Lorraine Paulhus; Magazine Mountain shagreen by Ron Caldwell, Lincoln Memorial University; Earth courtesy Flickr/Stephen Thomas; sea otters courtesy Flickr/Mike Baird; Townsend's big-eared bat by Sally King, National Park Service; cicada courtesy Flickr/Masayuki Igawa.

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