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20,000 More Protected Acres Proposed for U.S. Jaguars

Jaguar in the Santa Rita MountainsMore news for jaguars this week: A federal proposal to protect "critical habitat" for these big cats just added 19,905 acres in southern Arizona and New Mexico, including areas near the controversial planned Rosemont copper mine outside Tucson, where a lone male jaguar has recently been caught on camera. That brings the total proposal -- which responds to a Center for Biological Diversity suit -- to 858,137 acres, or 1,341 square miles. If critical habitat for the jaguar is finalized within the mine's footprint, federal approval of the mine could be ruled out.

The deserts and woodlands on the eastern flank of the Santa Rita Mountains, the site of the planned mine, provide an essential corridor for jaguar dispersal from Mexico into historic habitat in the United States and offer abundant prey, like deer and javelinas. But the Rosemont Mine would blast a 1.5-square-mile open pit, then dump toxic mining waste directly onto national forest land.

"If jaguars are to recover in the Southwest, at a minimum good habitat must be protected. Safeguarding this irreplaceable dispersal corridor could give the jaguar a chance to eventually start a family in Arizona," said the Center's Michael Robinson.

Read more in the Summit County Citizens Voice.

The Public Deserves to Speak Out on Wolves -- Take Action

Gray wolfBefore the Obama administration strips wolves of their Endangered Species Act protections, the American people need to have their say. The Center and our allies are calling on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to hold plenty of public hearings and extend the time allowed for the public to speak up to give our wolves a future.

If the government has its way, it'll take away federal protections from nearly all wolves in the lower 48 states. That means abandoning 40 years of wolf recovery and exposing more wolves to the risk of increased killing by hunters and trappers.

We know wolves have broad support across the United States. We need your help to make sure the public has a chance to speak out at hearings and during the comment period.

Take action now to let the public speak out and then read this excellent editorial on wolves from Sunday's Chicago Tribune.

Protections Proposed for 2 Southwest Snakes, 420,000 Acres of Habitat

Northern Mexican garter snakeIt was a good week to be a garter snake in the Southwest, especially a narrow-headed or northern Mexican garter. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday proposed protecting both these snake species under the Endangered Species Act. The agency also proposed to protect more than 420,000 acres of "critical habitat" for them in Arizona and New Mexico.

The two snakes have been in steep decline in recent decades, mostly due to destruction of their streamside habitats by livestock grazing, water withdrawal, and agricultural and urban sprawl. They've also been hit hard by the spread of nonnative species like sunfish, bass and crayfish. The Service says that 83 percent of the northern Mexican garter snake's population in the United States -- and 76 percent of the narrow-headed garter snake's population -- occurs "at low densities" and probably isn't viable.

The Center has been fighting to save these two snake species for years. This week's announcement is the result of our historic agreement, reached with the government in 2011, that speeds up protection decisions for 757 species around the country.

Get more from KRWG News.

6 Texas Snails and Crustaceans, Plus 450 Acres Habitat, Finally Safeguarded

Balmorhea State ParkAquatic invertebrates like Phantom springsnails, Phantom Cave snails and diminutive amphipods are as obscure (in the human world) as their names suggest. But these snails and crustaceans -- along with Diamond springsnails, Gonzales springsnails and Pecos amphipods (another crustacean) -- have dwelled in spring-fed streams in west Texas for eons, feeding on plant detritus and bacteria. Unfortunately all six of these creatures are endangered by reductions in water flows as a result of drought and aquifer pumping, as well as by potential contamination due to oil and gas extraction and processing.

The Center petitioned to protect five of these species in 2004 (two had actually been proposed for protection back in 1976). Finally there was good news on Monday: These minute but winsome animals were protected under the Endangered Species Act, due to our landmark 757 agreement. The government also agreed to protect 450 acres inhabited by the six invertebrates as "critical habitat."

Check out our press release.

$2 Million Settlement to Help Butterfly, Communities in Antioch, Calif.

Lange's metalmark butterflyCommunity and environmental groups, including the Center, finalized a settlement last week that will bring $2 million to low-income communities in Antioch and Oakley, Calif., as well as to endangered species at the nearby Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge -- the last home of critically imperiled Lange's metalmark butterflies.

The California Energy Commission has authorized three new power plants within 1 mile of two already-existing plants in Antioch for energy that will be distributed to San Francisco and other urban areas. But the plants' concentrated emissions will threaten public health in nearby communities and push the Lange's metalmark butterfly closer to extinction -- so we and allies sued under the Clean Air Act to address the problem. The money from our agreement will be paid out over 10 years and will target mitigating the harmful effects of the pollution.

"The Lange's metalmark butterfly is a Bay Area jewel that's already way too close to extinction," said Jonathan Evans, toxics and endangered species campaign director at the Center. "This agreement will help throw a lifeline to one of the world's most endangered species."

Read more in the San Jose Mercury News.

Center Op-ed: All Turtles Are Losers in Turtle Races -- Take Action

Eastern box turtleTurtle races are longstanding summertime traditions in some parts of the country, with young people searching rural waterways for turtles and turning them in to "race" -- often to help raise money for important causes. Post-race, the turtles are released back into the wild.

But sadly, as a new op-ed by the Center's Collette Adkins Giese discusses, these "races" can expose turtles to diseases they've never encountered before, which then can spread to wild populations when the turtles are put back in nature. Add that risk to turtle overexploitation and habitat loss, and we're contributing to dramatic population declines in almost all U.S. turtle species -- many of them endangered. Wild turtles would be far healthier and happier, Collette writes, if more turtle races were replaced with wildlife festivals.

"For generations, that magical moment when many a child first understood our bond with all things wild was kindled by staring into the eyes of a small turtle as it crawled across their outstretched hand," writes Collette. "That bond now requires that we put our own traditions aside and do what's best for our turtles, before it's too late."

Read the article for yourself at The Huffington Post, then take action to stop harmful wild turtle races.

Arctic Ribbon Seals Denied Help... Again

Ribbon sealAmong the world's most beautiful marine mammals, black-and-white ribbon seals have just been dealt their second crushing blow in five years. The Bush administration denied them Endangered Species Act protection in 2008; then the Obama administration added insult to injury this week by denying the seals protection again.

The seals, which live in the Bering and Chukchi seas off Alaska, are threatened by sea-ice loss caused by global warming, as well as by oil development.

On Tuesday, following an earlier challenge by the Center, the National Marine Fisheries Service agreed with us that melting sea ice threatens the seals' survival; but it declined to protect them, claiming that wiping them out in Alaska wouldn't drive them toward extinction in a significant portion of their range.

"President Obama's stirring words about the impending climate disaster don't do much for ribbon seals," said the Center's Alaska Director Rebecca Noblin. "Without concrete action to protect these seals and other ice-dependent animals, speeches like his are only sending more hot air into the atmosphere."

Get more from ABC News.

World Population Day: Picture 11 Billion People

World population sardinesBy midnight tonight our planet will have 200,000 more people than it did yesterday. That includes some 5,000 more people in the United States. The world blew right past the 7 billion mark in 2011, and now, if population growth is left unchecked, the United Nations predicts we could hit 11 billion by the end of this century.

Today is World Population Day, a good day to think about what that means. The Center is the only national environmental group with a program solely focused on human population and consumption, and their effects on our endangered animals and plants. Over the past few years, we've given away more than half a million free Endangered Species Condoms to start conversations about how population and consumption drive climate change, habitat loss, pollution and other threats to wildlife.

Now we're expanding our work. Check out two new job opportunities to join our Population and Sustainability Program, find out more about our path-breaking population work, and share this new Facebook meme for World Population Day.

Gulf Coasters -- Celebrate 40 Years of Endangered Species Act Success

Brown pelicanThe Endangered Species Act turns 40 later this year, and we want to make sure the world knows what a success it's been. So we're teaming up with the Endangered Species Coalition and other environmental groups on a campaign called "A Wild Success: Celebrating 40 Years of the Endangered Species Act."

Will you help? Throughout the year we're asking people around the country to write letters to the editors of their local newspapers about the power and necessity of the Act. You can write about your favorite endangered species, urge Congress not to weaken this bedrock law, or just submit a few lines saying you're thankful for the lives the Act saves every day.

This month we're specifically asking people in the Gulf states to write letters. So if you live in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama or Mississippi, find out how you can participate. If you live in another part of the country, no fear -- your time to help will also come. Meanwhile, check out our Wild Success Web page.

Wild & Weird: Interstellar Moonshine Brewed by Quantum Mechanics

Space hoochWhile astronomers have yet to confirm the existence of intelligent life beyond our planet -- or possibly even on it -- they have discovered a 288-billion-mile cloud of gaseous methanol, an alcohol present in antifreeze and some moonshine recipes, too (though it's different from ethanol, the prevalent alcohol in adult beverages). This cloud of gas isn't single-malt Scotch, but it might be enough hooch to put a black hole over the legal limit.

What really perplexes scientists is just how complex organic molecules such as alcohols form in space, where temperatures dip below 300 degrees Fahrenheit. According to the basic rules of chemistry, that should be impossible. But a team of researchers has recreated the extreme cold of outer space in a lab here on Earth -- and with it, the "impossible" chemical reactions. A study in Nature Chemistry gives us a name for the method by which these reactions take place: "quantum tunneling."

Thirsting for more info? Read more at PopSci.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: jaguar courtesy Flickr/ucumari; jaguar in the Santa Rita Mountains courtesy USFWS; gray wolf courtesy Flickr/USFWS Midwest Region; northern Mexican garter snake by Doug Houtle, ABQ BioPark; Balmorhea State Park courtesy Flickr/ Don Barrett; Lange's metalmark butterfly courtesy; eastern box turtle courtesy NPS; ribbon seal by Mike Cameron, NOAA's National Marine Mammal Laboratory; world population sardines photo illustration by Clayton Norman, Center for Biological Diversity using photos courtesy Flickr/Andrew Malone and James Cridland; brown pelican by Rodney Cammauf, NPS; space hooch photo illustration by Jessica Herrera, Center for Biological Diversity using photos courtesy Flickr/Jay Adan and Dave Carner.

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