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Report: Rising Seas Threaten 233 Protected Species -- Watch Video

Delmarva fox squirrelAs climate change melts the Arctic and heats the planet, it's also raising sea levels. A new report by the Center for Biological Diversity -- the first analysis of its kind -- finds that 233 animals and plants already on the endangered species list also face deadly risks from sea-level rise and storm surges. That means 1 out of every 6 endangered species could see much of its last habitat swallowed by ocean waters, which could climb 6 feet in the next 90 years.

Among the most vulnerable species are Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrels, which could lose half their habitat by century's end; Florida's Key deer, most of whose habitat is less than 3 feet above sea level; and Hawaiian monk seals, which have already lost a key pupping island to escalating ocean levels.

Federal officials need to act fast and dramatically to protect our endangered wildlife from these rising tides -- but they haven't yet.

Share this brief, original Center video and read more about our report in USA Today.

California's Lone Wolf Returns: OR-7 Weekends in Golden State

Gray wolfWandering wolf "OR-7" made history almost exactly two years ago, when he first crossed the line from Oregon into California and stayed 15 months, becoming the first wild wolf known to live in the Golden State in 90 years. This year he's made two forays south, most recently on Dec. 7 for a brief day trip. His repeat visits support advocates' calls for state protection of all wolves entering California.

Gray wolves are California natives but were driven to extinction there by the mid-1920s. In February 2012 the Center and three allies filed a petition with the state Fish and Game Commission seeking full state protections for gray wolves; the commission agreed that listing might be warranted and asked the state Department of Fish and Wildlife for a 12-month status review. That review is done, and agency officials have indicated they're leaning against listing -- largely because OR-7 had left the state.

"Scientists have identified more than 50,000 square miles of suitable wolf habitat in California, so no one should be surprised that OR-7 finds it suitable too," said Amaroq Weiss, the Center's West Coast wolf organizer. "And other wolves will follow."

Read more in The Ecologist.

5 Steps for a Wildlife-friendly 2014 -- Take Our Pledge

Earth with checkWith 2014 looming it's a great time to talk about ways to live better -- for wildlife's sake and for our own. The conversation needs to include the enormous impact that human population growth and overconsumption are having on polar bears, sea turtles and hundreds of other species around the globe.

We hope you'll join us in resolving to do more to protect our world and the species we share it with. Our pledge is to buy less, drive less, eat less meat, practice safe sex (try our Endangered Species Condoms), and communicate more on the connection between unsustainable human population growth and the extinction crisis.

Take the pledge -- then share it with your circle this holiday season. (You can also check out our newly expanded Population and Sustainability program.)

Double your gift

Landmark Ruling Deals Huge Blow to Las Vegas Water Grab

Greater sage grouseA Nevada judge on Wednesday rejected a controversial plan to suck massive amounts of water out of eastern Nevada/western Utah and siphon it away to feed urban sprawl in and around Las Vegas. The decision came in response to a legal challenge brought by the Center for Biological Diversity, Great Basin Water Network and Nevada's White Pine County.

For years the Southern Nevada Water Authority has been trying to secure a water grab to suck up about 37 billion gallons of water each year and pipe it 300 miles to Las Vegas. A federal analysis found that 137,000 acres of wildlife habitat would be permanently destroyed by the $15 billion project and a long list of wildlife will be affected, including 25 species of Great Basin springsnails, 14 types of desert fish, sage grouse and Rocky Mountain elk.

"This is a historic ruling and a great victory for wildlife in Nevada and Utah, rural communities and the citizens of Las Vegas," said the Center's Las Vegas-based senior scientist Rob Mrowka.

Read more in The Kansas City Star.

Whale Zone Ahead: Ship Speed Limits Finalized for Endangered Whales

North Atlantic right whaleIn a whale-sized win for one of the world's most endangered ocean animals, the National Marine Fisheries Service has permanently adopted speed limits for big ships in habitat for North Atlantic right whales along the entire U.S. East Coast. The limits -- which require large vessels to slow substantially in right whales' presence -- were set to expire Monday, but the Center and allies petitioned the Fisheries Service last year to cement them in place.

That petition also sought to expand the speed limit zones into additional areas where whales feed. The Fisheries Service has acknowledged this is needed.

Although North Atlantic right whales grow to a massive 55 feet long, their population is tiny, at fewer than 400 -- decimated in past centuries by commercial whaling. Endangered Species Act protection has warded off extinction, but these whales' crucial East Coast habitats are dotted with danger zones -- some of the busiest shipping ports in the nation. Now ships will always be warned: SLOW FOR WHALES.

Read more in our press release.

Fight Is On to Save Rare Utah Fishes

WoundfinFor almost 30 years, a water district in southern Utah has been sucking up the Virgin River directly above some of the most important habitat for two rare fish species: the woundfin and the Virgin River chub. The excessive withdrawals are creating reduced flows and increased water temperatures -- which have both driven these two federally protected fishes toward the brink of extinction.

This week the Center and friends began legal work to save them, filing a notice of intent to sue the Washington County Water Conservancy District, which supplies water to the city of St. George -- where per-capita water usage is 50 percent higher than in Las Vegas.

The water district was supposed to allow at least 86 cubic feet of water per second past its water diversion, but typically it's only about 3 cubic feet per second -- barely enough to keep the riverbed wet.

"If something isn't done to stop excessive withdrawals from the Virgin River, two fish species found nowhere else on the planet will be lost forever," said the Center's Noah Greenwald.

Read more in The Spectrum and Daily News.

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Court Protects California Redwoods, Rejects Vineyard Plan

Redwood forestThe Center and allies celebrated victory last week when a California judge rejected a winery's plan to clearcut 154 acres of Northern California forest to plant vineyards.

Artesa Winery's forest-to-vineyard project included plans to clearcut 50- to 75-year-old coast redwoods and Douglas firs, as well as oaks and manzanita. But the ruling determined that the project violates the California Environmental Quality Act by failing to look at alternatives that avoid forest destruction, ignoring the carbon sequestration that would be lost, and wrongly dismissing the project's pesticide impacts.

This decision means the redwood forest can continue to do what it does best -- provide habitat for wildlife and remove harmful carbon emissions from the atmosphere.

Read more in The Press Democrat.

10 Reasons to Celebrate the Endangered Species Act

Brown pelicanAs we near the Endangered Species Act's 40th anniversary on Dec. 28, it's worth pausing a moment to celebrate how far we've come. That's why the Endangered Species Coalition, including the Center, just released a special report: Back From the Brink: Ten Success Stories Celebrating the Endangered Species Act at 40.

No, these top 10 won't get the Letterman treatment but, as Center biologist Tierra Curry puts it, "In Hollywood rock-star style, these species are famous for their comebacks."

...And the winners are: the El Segundo blue butterfly and southern sea otter (California); humpback whale (from the equator to the subpolar latitude); green sea turtle (tropical and subtropical oceans), American peregrine falcon and bald eagle (from Canada to Mexico); American alligator (central Southeast); nēnē goose (Hawaii); Robbins' cinquefoil (New Hampshire); and brown pelican (Gulf of Mexico and Pacific coasts).

Read more in our press release.

Wild & Weird: The Fox and the Hound -- Watch Video

Fox and houndNorwegian photographer Torgeir Berge is working with his partner Berit Helberg on a book of fairy tales that will include photos of a dog named Tinni and a wild fox named Sniffer.

While the stories will include flights of fancy, the near-unbelievable photos of Sniffer and Tinni at play are pure nonfiction. This real-life Fox and the Hound relationship began when Torgeir took his dog for a walk through the forest, where the two animals met and became fast friends. In a series of extraordinary photos Torgeir captured the unlikely intimates pouncing on each other's heads, chasing sticks and taking naps.

Torgeir and Berit plan to donate some of their book-sale proceeds to keeping wildlife like Sniffer out of fur farms.

Watch our video slideshow of the photos and read more on the forthcoming book.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: Key deer by John Oberheur, USFWS; Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrel courtesy USFWS; gray wolf courtesy Flickr/Chris Smith; original Earth image courtesy NASA; greater sage grouse courtesy USFWS; North Atlantic right whale courtesy Georgia Department of Natural Resources; woundfin courtesy BLM; redwood forest courtesy Flickr/Dan Walker; brown pelican by John J. Mosesso; fox and hound by Torgeir Berge.

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Center for Biological Diversity

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