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Fight Is on to Save Idaho Wolf Packs From Extermination

Gray wolfThe Center for Biological Diversity joined allies this week in going to court to stop a state-hired bounty hunter from cruelly exterminating two entire wolf packs in Idaho. The U.S. Forest Service illegally allowed Idaho's Department of Fish and Game to send a hired gun into the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness to wipe out the Golden and Monumental packs.

The supposed reason for the wolf kills? To leave more elk for hunters -- even though Idaho wildlife officials say elk numbers are at an all-time high. Our emergency lawsuit aims to stop the wolf killer in his tracks.

"Hiring a bounty hunter to kill wolves in one of America's crown-jewel wilderness areas, just to make sure there are more elk for hunters to kill, is one more example of the deeply sad, cruel and reactionary nature of Idaho's 'management' of wolves," said Noah Greenwald, the Center's endangered species director.

Read more in our press release, then take action to call off the hunt.

Rare Florida Plant Gets 11,000 Acres of Protected Habitat

Cape Sable thoroughwortA rare plant that only grows in parts of South Florida is getting some of its most important habitat protected -- but that doesn't mean it's out of danger's path. On Tuesday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service protected nearly 11,000 acres of critical habitat for the Cape Sable thoroughwort as part of the Center's historic 2011 agreement to speed protections for 757 species around the country.

But this plant is threatened by rising sea levels. If worst-case projections become reality, much of its home will be inundated in the coming decades. To the Fish and Wildlife Service's credit, the agency did protect the plant's upland habitat -- currently unoccupied -- to give it a fighting chance against rising seas. But ultimately the thoroughwort will likely only survive if we dramatically cut greenhouse emissions and avoid those worst-case sea-level-rise scenarios.

Read our Cape Sable thoroughwort press release -- and then learn about how 233 endangered species are threatened by sea-level rise through our new report and video.

Aloha, Mr. President -- Now Please Reject Keystone

FrostpawThe Center's Frostpaw the Polar Bear made a huge splash in Hawaii over the holidays as he took his "No Keystone" message everywhere that President Obama went, including beaches, golf courses and tourist shops. At one point the president pointed to a dancing Frostpaw at a college basketball game -- and later, after golfing, Obama shouted, "Hey, polar bear!"

Frostpaw's Hawaiian visit (don't call it a vacation; that polar bear was workin') was covered by Politico, The Washington Post, Reuters, The Huffington Post, ABC News, Hawaii Public Radio and several other outlets. He was even noticed by White House reporters traveling with the president.

Several local activists in Hawaii joined Frostpaw to deliver a serious message: If we're going to have a livable future for people and wildlife, we need real action on the climate crisis -- and that starts with rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline.

Learn more at our NoKeystone XL website and check out this Facebook photo album and funny video from Frostpaw's Hawaiian adventure.

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Bluefin Tuna Back on the Chopping Block -- Take Action

Bluefin tunaBluefin tuna made world headlines again this weekend with the annual auction in Tokyo of the year's first bluefin tuna. The fish, which sold for about $70,000 U.S., showcases the plight of bluefin tuna worldwide, caught in the net of conspicuous consumption.

Repeated international attempts to prohibit trade of Atlantic bluefin tuna have failed, and overfishing continues. Meanwhile scientists announced in 2013 that populations of Pacific bluefin tuna have declined by 96.4 percent compared to unfished levels.

It's time for consumers to take matters into our own hands. Do you ever use Amazon for online shopping? Did you know that bluefin tuna is available there, frozen and in cans?

Take action now to ask Amazon and its wholesalers to stop selling bluefin tuna.

New Report: Logging Sierra Nevada Burned Area Would Hurt Wildlife, Water

Black-backed woodpeckerOn Monday -- the last day for public comment on the Forest Service's plan to log the area of last summer's Rim Fire in Northern California -- the Center released a report that exposes how the Service's post-fire logging plan on 30,000 burned acres in the Sierra Nevada will hurt wildlife, water and the regrowing forest.

Our report, Nourished by Wildfire: The Ecological Benefits of the Rim Fire and the Threat of Salvage Logging, explains how fires are essential for maintaining biological diversity in the Sierra Nevada ecosystem. The "complex early seral forest" created by the Rim Fire is one of the rarest, most biodiverse habitat types in the Sierra. Rather than industrial-scale salvage logging, post-fire management should prioritize forest health, water quality and the many native species like black-backed woodpeckers that depend on fire for their existence.

Not only do post-fire landscapes provide critical wildlife habitat but, if not logged, they can also result in forests that are naturally more resilient to climate change.

Read the report in our press release, then take action to help protect critical post-fire habitat.

Center Op-ed: Time to Pull the Plug on the Pollution Party

Oil derricksOK, so 2013 was another festive year for the oil and gas industry. Petroleum companies raked in as much as $175,000 in profits every minute while the Obama administration leased millions of acres of public land to the industry -- all the while shrugging off concerns about fracking pollution as the United States becomes the world's largest producer of oil and gas.

"But perhaps the highest price for this festival of corporate greed may be paid by the climate and those who depend on it -- meaning you, me and every other creature on Earth," wrote Kassie Siegel, head of the Center's Climate Law Institute, in a new op-ed for The Huffington Post. "A climate hangover of monumental proportions awaits us all in the aftermath of this modern-day fossil fuel frenzy."

President Obama has famously vowed to fight climate change. But where's the decisive action? From weak power plant emissions rules to an "all of the above" energy strategy that paves the way for dirty new oil and gas production, the Obama administration just hasn't stood up to big polluters.

Read more in Kassie's Huffington Post op-ed to check out five 2013 studies that should inspire the president to pull the plug on the pollution party and take a bold approach for the climate in 2014.

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Petition Seeks to Save Florida's Wingtail Crayfish

Wingtail crayfishCrayfish aren't the most glamorous creatures -- but they're critical to southeastern streams, some of the world's most diverse and seriously threatened ecosystems. Crayfish -- also known as crawdads, crawfish, mudbugs and crawly bottoms -- are keystone species, their burrows creating shelters for 400-plus other animals.

At least Florida's wingtail crayfish -- which the Center petitioned to protect this week -- have a glamorous name. Two inches long and tan (with red spots), the females of this fascinating species use "glair," a gluey substance, to stick their eggs to their undersides when they're "in berry" -- that is, when they're carrying eggs that look like berry clusters. Wingtail crayfish survive nowhere else on Earth but Florida's Gulf County.

In 2010 we petitioned for 404 vanishing southeastern species -- and that campaign has grown ever since.

"This tiny crayfish needs protection to fight the destruction of its wetland home," said the Center's Tierra Curry. "Protection will even help save water quality for people."

Read more in the San Francisco Chronicle.

New EPA Pollution Standards Too Lax on Natural Gas Industry

Methane flareThe Obama administration's proposed rule for regulating greenhouse pollution from new power plants -- published Wednesday in the Federal Register -- gives the natural gas industry a free pass to pollute.

The EPA's "New Source Performance Standards" wouldn't achieve any actual pollution reductions from gas-fired power plants -- despite the existence of technology equal to the task. President Obama's own climate scientists warned last year that temperatures could rise as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100 without rapid emissions cuts, and a report from the International Energy Agency last year concluded that converting from coal to gas in the electricity sector would still fuel a global temperature increase of 6 degrees Fahrenheit.

Yet the EPA's newly published power plant proposed rules set standards for natural gas that will not require new plants to perform any better than old ones.

"If the EPA is serious about the climate crisis, it needs to be serious about reducing greenhouse pollution from all power plants -- whether they're fueled by gas or coal," said Center lawyer Bill Snape. "Lackluster pollution-control rules don't just imperil the president's legacy, they endanger our entire planet."

Read our press release.

Wild & Weird: Ride 'Em, Hippoboy!

Cowboy on hippoIn the early 20th century, the United States found itself in a meat shortage. A growing human population, along with the loss or extinction of native game, pushed dreamers and schemers to envision new sources of meat. One such dreamer, a certain Frederick Russell Burnham, came up with the idea of importing hippopotami (along with some other exotic animals) from Africa.

And notables such as President Theodore Roosevelt and the U.S. Congress took the idea seriously. One congressman, Robert Foligny Broussard, went so far as to introduce H.R. 23261, actually known as the Hippo Bill, "to appropriate $250,000 for the importation of useful new animals into the United States." He believed that, besides introducing "hippo bacon" into the national diet and alleviating the meat crisis, lumbering introduced hippo populations would solve an ecological crisis in his home state of Louisiana by eating up invasive water hyacinth.

Ultimately the plan never got off the ground. Instead, other schemers pressured Congress simply to convert more land to beef-friendly pastures.

Read more about the history of the hippoburgers that might have been in Jon Mooallem's American Hippopotamus.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: Gray wolf courtesy Flickr/Allison Bailey; gray wolf courtesy Michigan Department of Natural Resources; Cape Sable thoroughwort (c) Keith A. Bradley; Frostpaw by Valerie Love, Center for Biological Diversity; bluefin tuna courtesy Flickr/Aziz T. Saltik; black-backed woodpecker courtesy Flickr/sfitgerald86; oil derricks courtesy NASA; wingtail crayfish by Edward Keppner; methane flare courtesy Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; original hippo image by Kelly, and original cowboy image courtesy

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Center for Biological Diversity

P.O. Box 710

Tucson, AZ 85702