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Legal Action Aims to Stop Shrimp Fishery's Mass Killing of Sea Turtles

Kemp's ridley sea turtleMore than 53,000 threatened and endangered sea turtles drown in shrimp trawl nets every year in the southeastern United States. Yet the National Marine Fisheries Service still hasn't conducted a full analysis of how the region's fishery is affecting sea turtles in the Southeast and the Gulf of Mexico -- a crucial step to protect wildlife like green and Kemp's ridley sea turtles from this deadly industry.

On Wednesday the Center for Biological Diversity and allies notified the agency that we plan to sue over its failure. Our action comes just two years after conservation groups settled another lawsuit aiming to address the 3,500-plus sea turtles stranded dead or injured in the same areas in 2011 (many of those deaths linked to the shrimp fishery). The Fisheries Service promised to pursue a new rule to help sea turtles, but later backed away.

"The agency has gotten into a disturbing habit of initiating protections and then stalling them," said the Center's Jacki Lopez. "But every day protections are delayed is another day that these sea turtles face the very real risk of drowning in shrimp nets."

Listen to -- and watch -- an interview on this story at WMNF Radio.

Idaho Plans to Wipe Out 60 Percent of Wolves in Frank Church Wilderness

Gray wolfJust weeks after a state-hired hunter and trapper killed nine wolves in central Idaho's Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness -- and officials pulled him out -- the state's Department of Fish and Game released a plan calling for more intensive wolf-killing in the location, the largest forested wilderness area in the lower 48 states.

The plan to kill 60 percent of wolves in the wilderness area is intended to please hunters by boosting the local elk population beyond the level natural predator-prey interactions would support. Last month the Center and allies filed an emergency motion asking the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to preserve the wolves and, soon after, Idaho Fish and Game temporarily halted the program.

More than 900 Idaho wolves have already been killed during state-sanctioned hunting and trapping seasons. The senseless slaughter will continue unless the courts step in and stop it.

Read more in our press release.

Lawsuit Launched to Protect Wildlife, People From Hudson River Oil Spills

Piping ploverShipments of highly explosive crude oil through Albany, N.Y., and along the Hudson River are rapidly expanding with the domestic oil and gas fracking boom. Unfortunately the government's antiquated plans for dealing with resulting oil spills fail to protect endangered species and human communities from the billions of gallons of oil now funneling through the region. On Wednesday we filed a formal notice of intent to sue the U.S. Coast Guard and EPA for failing to update those plans.

In addition to carrying fracked North Dakota Bakken crude, which has been a culprit in numerous train-derailment accidents and fatalities over the past year -- including one in Quebec killing 47 people -- trains and ships in the Hudson River corridor may soon be transporting Alberta tar sands. That would be particularly risky for the Hudson's aquatic life, since tar sands spilled in water sink to the bottom and are expensive and difficult to remove. At least 17 federally protected endangered species, including Atlantic sturgeon, sea turtles and piping plovers, are threatened by the increased risk of spills.

"The Hudson River is the life blood of New York -- its past, its future, its identity," said Mollie Matteson, a senior scientist with the Center. "It's also a natural treasure. A major oil spill here would be a disaster for wildlife and people alike."

Read more in the Times Union.

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Demand Justice for Scientist's Dog Killed by Poison -- Take Action

NyxoEarlier this month a leading research scientist's dog, named Nyxo, was fatally poisoned in Northern California. The dog's owner had been investigating how highly toxic rat poisons threaten endangered wildlife like Pacific fishers and northern spotted owls -- and a necropsy revealed the dog had been poisoned with brodifacoum. That's the exact same controversial poison that's the subject of the scientist's research.

The Center is offering a $2,500 reward for information on this cowardly and cruel killing.

"Evidence strongly suggests that this malicious poisoning is tied to this scientist's research," said the Center's Jonathan Evans. "The use of violence to silence the conservation work of any scientist, researcher or citizen is deplorable."

Take action now to demand a full investigation and prosecution of those responsible for Nyxo's poisoning. Then find out how you can help at

A Wild Success: American Voices on the Endangered Species Act at 40

ESA at 40 reportMemo to any member of Congress thinking about dismantling the Endangered Species Act: Check your mail or inbox.

This week, every senator and representative in Washington, D.C., received a 282-page testament to the importance of the Endangered Species Act -- as written by citizens across the country. This impressive document, compiled by the Center, the Endangered Species Coalition and Defenders of Wildlife, includes hundreds of letters to the editor and op-eds celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Act and all the species it protects.

The report, called A Wild Success: American Voices on the Endangered Species Act at 40, is a powerful counterpunch to extremist House Republicans' latest attempt to cripple key portions of this landmark law. It features pieces in local, regional and national papers, from The New York Times and The Baltimore Sun to Orion and Nature.

Check it out now.

Lawsuit Launched for SoCal Frogs

Mountain yellow-legged frogFollowing hard-hitting advocacy by the Center and allies, Southern California's rare mountain yellow-legged frogs have some solid protections: Endangered Species Act listing and more than a million acres of federally protected "critical habitat."

But the Endangered Species Act also requires a recovery plan to get species off the endangered list and thriving once again, and in the 12 years since mountain yellow-legged frogs were protected, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has never completed such a plan.

The Center just filed a notice of intent to sue the Service if it doesn't get rolling on a recovery plan to protect these rare frogs from threats like exotic predators and habitat destruction. These yellow-leggeds were once so common they were often spotted by hikers; now the high-elevation amphibians have vanished from more than 93 percent of their old habitat.

Read more in The Press-Enterprise.

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Help Save the Yellow-billed Cuckoo -- Take Action

Yellow-billed cuckooThe yellow-billed cuckoo bird is a true wonder, from its ability to migrate thousands of miles between South America and the U.S. West, where it summers in our riparian oases, to the unique song it sings before summer rains. But this "raincrow" is fast diminishing in numbers as its habitat is lost to water diversions, livestock grazing and other threats. Once found in every western state, it now nests in much smaller numbers, with several states hosting fewer than 20 breeding pairs.

Following the Center's historic 2011 agreement requiring the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to move forward on protecting 757 imperiled species -- and 16 years of Center work to save this bird -- the agency last autumn proposed to list the cuckoo as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act.

But "threatened" isn't enough -- this bird is endangered, and its official listing needs to reflect the biological reality. So the Center is pushing to earn it the "endangered" ranking it deserves, plus federal "critical habitat" protections that can save its last river havens.

Please take action now to tell the Service to grant this beautiful bird the safeguards it needs.

Wild & Weird: Bunny Stampede -- Watch Video

RabbitThe modern history of a remote, tiny Japanese island called Ōkunoshima suggests that, at least now and then, the power of the cute and furry can vanquish evil. Once home to a military base responsible for the production of kilotons of deadly poison gas during World War II, the island is now famous for its ... bunnies. The animals, possibly first brought to the island as test subjects, have proliferated and overrun the place: Tourists now flock to Ōkunoshima's beaches just to feed them treats.

We don't know how much havoc these exotic lagomorphs have caused on the island; possibly Ōkunoshima's native species had already suffered so much at the hands of the chemical-warfare industry that the bunnies were the least of their problems.

Watch this video of a woman caught in a rabbit stampede and visit Ōkunoshima's National Park website for more information.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: Green sea turtle courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Brocken Inaglory; Kemp's ridley sea turtle by Bill Reeves, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; gray wolf courtesy Flickr/Angell Williams; piping plover courtesy Flickr/USFWS, Northeast Region; Nyxo courtesy Center for Biological Diversity; ESA at 40 cover courtesy Center for Biological Diversity; mountain yellow-legged frog by Adam Backlin, USGS; yellow-billed cuckoo courtesy Flickr/nebirdsplus; rabbit courtesy Wikimedia Commons/JJ Harrison.

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