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Northern long-eared bat

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Endangered Species Act Success: 1 Million King Salmon Come Home

Chinook salmonThis year chinook salmon, also known as king salmon, are returning to the Columbia River in numbers not seen since Bonneville Dam was built in 1938: More than 1 million fish have been counted so far.

Although the large numbers of returning kings have a complex of factors behind them, including good ocean conditions, their abundance is also a testament to the success of the Endangered Species Act (celebrating its 40th birthday this year). A number of stocks of chinook and other Columbia River salmon are protected under the Act and have been helped by better dam management; protection of their spawning streams from logging, livestock grazing and other threats; and extensive stream restoration efforts.

"Columbia River chinook aren't out of hot water yet and need more help, including the removal of dams on the lower Snake River," says the Center for Biological Diversity's endangered species director Noah Greenwald. "But without the Endangered Species Act, we wouldn't be seeing this astounding, abundant run."

Read an intriguing article on the counting of this year's fish in the Los Angeles Times.

Two Plants Proposed for Protection Under Historic 757 Agreement...

White-flowered asterLast week we told you about several new species that won Endangered Species Act protection under the Center's 2011 settlement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service -- and this week, as we went to press, even more species had been proposed for protection, including two plants.

The Florida brickell-bush, a 3-foot-tall white-flowered aster, and Carter's small-flowered flax, a foot-tall, yellow-flowered plant, both survive only in Florida's Miami-Dade County and are threatened by habitat destruction and invasive species, earning them both proposed protection with 2,707 acres of "critical habitat."

To date about 100 species have been protected under our 757 species agreement, with dozens more proposed for protection.

Learn more about these Florida flowers in our press release.

...Plus Three Species That Fly

Yellow-billed cuckooThose Florida flowers aren't the only ones to be newly proposed for protection under our 757 species agreement: Three creatures of the sky (two birds and one mammal) were also proposed this week.

The yellow-billed cuckoo, a striking songbird also known as the "rain crow" for its habit of singing right before storms, was once found along nearly every waterway in the West. But dams, livestock grazing and other forces reduced it to only a handful of locations in the Southwest. The Center first petitioned for its protection in 1998 and has finally won a proposal.

The red knot, a rust-bellied shorebird that migrates 9,300 miles between the poles, was also proposed for protection. The knot has sharply declined in part because of the loss of an important prey item on its long journey: the horseshoe crabs of Delaware Bay, which are severely overharvested and disappearing.

And northern long-eared bats were proposed as well due to widespread mortality caused by the disease white-nose syndrome over much of eastern North America. The Center and allies petitioned for these bats back in 2010.

Read more about the yellow-billed cuckoo, red knot and northern long-eared bat.

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Feds Put on Notice: Offshore Fracking in California Hurts Ocean Life

Loggerhead sea turtleOil companies are fracking in federal waters in the wildlife-rich Santa Barbara Channel, a media investigation revealed recently -- putting rare and protected marine animals like sea turtles and whales at risk. So last week the Center for Biological Diversity and allies filed a notice of intent to sue the feds over their approval of offshore fracking in California's waters.

Our notice -- which follows another landmark lawsuit we won, temporarily halting fracking on California's public lands -- asks the government to suspend any fracking operations off the Golden State's coast until it can conduct a comprehensive study of the practice's effects on the ecology and wildlife of the area, home to the world's densest summer concentrations of blue whales.

"Oil companies are fracking California's beautiful coastal waters with dangerous chemicals, and federal officials seem barely aware of the dangers," said Miyoko Sakashita, our oceans director. "We need an immediate halt to offshore fracking before chemical pollution or an oil spill poisons the whales and other wildlife that depend on California's rich coastal waters."

Read more in our press release.

Suit Filed to Save Southwest Songbird From Tree-eating Beetles

Southwestern willow flycatchersSouthwestern willow flycatchers are acrobatic birds that swoop among the trees over the Southwest's last, precious waterways to catch insects. But now insects are threatening flycatchers: Asian beetles introduced to rid the wild of invasive tamarisk trees are invading flycatcher nesting areas in southern Utah, Nevada and parts of Arizona. We at the Center have no love for tamarisk, but in the absence of serious efforts to restore native habitat, this beetle could seriously threaten flycatchers' survival.

To get clearance to release the exotic beetles into the United States, the feds promised mitigation if their release plan went awry. Yet they haven't taken the needed steps -- including planting native willows and cottonwoods to replace dying tamarisk -- to help the endangered birds. Instead of providing promised help against a full-fledged beetle invasion, in 2010 the feds merely terminated the tamarisk beetle program.

So we've filed a new lawsuit against those feds over their failure to safeguard flycatchers from the harmful effects of these exotic beetles. We won't let these birds go extinct because of the shenanigans of a foreign insect and a domestic agency.

Read more in the Los Angeles Times.

We Tackle Huge, Harmful Gas Project in Priceless Great Barrier Reef

DugongA total of five billion dollars in U.S. money has now been committed to a highly destructive plan to build not one but two natural gas facilities inside Australia's priceless Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area -- developments that threaten endangered sea turtles, dugongs and the beauty and integrity of this astonishing reef system, possibly the most impressive on the planet. The projects include drilling 16,000 coal-seam gas wells in interior Queensland using controversial fracking techniques; digging nearly 500 miles of gas pipelines; and building two separate processing facilities and export terminals.

Ship strikes alone killed 45 turtles in Gladstone Harbor in the two years after construction began on the projects, compared with an average of two a year in the past decade.

So the Center and allies amended an already-active lawsuit this week to challenge the funding, which is coming from the U.S. Export-Import Bank -- a federal agency that funds international projects.

"The U.S. federal government shouldn't be subsidizing the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef," said Sarah Uhlemann, our international program director. "These liquefied natural gas projects will be deadly to wildlife and will only serve to export our deeply unhealthy fossil fuel addiction."

Read more in The Guardian.

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Old-growth Harvest Halted in a Reprieve for Rare Alaska Wolves

Alexander Archipelago wolfThe Center and allies are celebrating recent news that the U.S. Forest Service has halted the sale of old-growth trees in Alaska's Tongass National Forest while it takes another, more in-depth look at how such logging will affect rare Alexander Archipelago wolves.

The Big Thorne project, approved in July, would log 6,000 acres of old-growth trees in the Tongass, construct 46 miles of new road (including 38 stream crossings), and reduce the habitat of deer -- wolves' primary prey -- to less than 30 percent of historical levels on Prince of Wales Island.

The Center and other conservation groups appealed the plan, and last week the regional forester ordered the agency to put the sale on hold to conduct additional review. The forester said she was concerned about comments from an expert on the Alexander Archipelago wolf who said the logging project "represents the final straw that will break the back" of the wolf-deer predator relationship on Prince of Wales Island.

The Center and Greenpeace have petitioned to protect Alexander Archipelago wolves, a rare subspecies of gray wolves, under the Endangered Species Act.

Read more in E&E News.

Live in the East or Southeast? Your Turn to Sing Praises of the Endangered Species Act

Red wolfThe Endangered Species Act turns 40 later this year, so the Center is teaming up with the Endangered Species Coalition and other groups on a campaign called "A Wild Success: Celebrating 40 Years of the Endangered Species Act."

Will you help? We're asking people 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 animals and plants the Act saves every day.

This month we're asking for letters from folks in Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. If you live in any of these states, you know how important the Act has been for red wolves, gray bats, sandhill cranes and other species. Find out how you can participate. If you live in another part of the country, no fear -- your time to help will come.

Meanwhile, check out our Wild Success Web page and interactive map.

Join 10,000 Youth Leaders in Pittsburgh, Pa. for Power Shift

Power ShiftLater this month thousands of youth and college students will converge on Pittsburgh, Pa. to build a movement called "Power Shift." From Oct. 18 through Oct. 21 youth leadership will tackle pressing environmental issues -- from fracking and other dirty fossil fuels to the looming climate crisis.

The weekend is full of panels, trainings and workshops as well as break-out sessions to help the next generation change the world. There's also an impressive list of keynote speakers -- including Bill McKibben from and Josh Fox, writer and director of Gasland.

If you know a young adult who might want to join, find out more and register for Power Shift today.

Wild & Weird: Watch a Four-minute Howler Monkey Howlfest

Red howler monkeyHowler monkeys are the loudest animals in the Americas. They start and end their days by flexing their gargantuan vocal cords, and their guttural throat songs -- meant to intimidate rivals and mark turf -- can carry for miles, even through dense rainforest.

A recent YouTube video helps demonstrate just how gruff and growly these primates can get as a howler named Canelo belts out a belch-like opera for nearly four minutes. It's almost trance-inducing.

According to the woman in the video, Canelo carries on this way because he's jealous of Chocolate -- the spider monkey sitting nearby -- and probably wants to kill him.
Watch the video now.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: northern long-eared bat courtesy USFWS; chinook salmon by Roger Tabor, USFWS; white-flowered aster courtesy Wikimedia Commons/EPA; yellow-billed cuckoo by Glen Tepke; loggerhead sea turtle courtesy Flickr/Joachim S. Muller; southwestern willow flycatcher by Rich and Nora Bowers; dugong courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Julien Willem; Alexander Archipelago wolf (c) Michelle Rogers; red wolf courtesy Flickr/ucumari; Power Shift logo; red howler monkey courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Petra Karstedt.

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Center for Biological Diversity

P.O. Box 710

Tucson, AZ 85702