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Idaho OKs Bill to Kill Hundreds of Wolves

WolfIdaho's done it again: State lawmakers just passed a bill that sets aside $400,000 in state funds to kill roughly 500 wolves. If all this killing is carried out, it'll leave just 150 wolves in the entire state. The bill also creates a "Wolf Depredation Control Board" to oversee the wolf-extermination program. Not surprisingly the board includes members of the agriculture, livestock and hunting communities, but no one representing conservation.

"Political leaders in Idaho would love nothing more than to eradicate Idaho's wolves and return to a century-old mindset in which big predators are viewed as evil and expendable," said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer at the Center for Biological Diversity. "Sadly, the new state wolf board reflects that attitude. The legislature couldn't even bring itself to put a single conservationist on the board, so the outcome is predictable: Many more wolves will die."

Congress in 2011 stripped Endangered Species Act protection from wolves in Idaho and Montana, and since then more than 1,500 have been killed in those states. The Center is fighting back against this disastrous bill. Stay tuned for how you can get involved.

Read more in the Idaho Press-Tribune. And, if you can, please donate to our Predator Defense Fund so we can act as quickly as possible.

Wildlife-drowning Fishing Nets Banned From Expansion Off California

Loggerhead sea turtleA significant victory for sea life: Federal fishery managers in Sacramento have decided not to expand driftnet fishing into protected sea turtle habitat along California's coast because it would greatly increase the risk of capturing -- and drowning -- endangered sea turtles and even snagging sperm whales. Just last fishing season, driftnets caught at least one gray whale and two short-finned pilot whales; in 2010 an estimated 16 endangered sperm whales were killed.

Yet the swordfish fishery off California recently requested that the Pacific Fishery Management Council allow expanded use of the deadly nets this year -- into the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary, which is inside the Pacific Leatherback Conservation Area. Instead of allowing expansion, the council last week called for stronger whale-protection regulations on the driftnet fleet, as well as testing of new fishing gear meant to reduce bycatch, saving turtles and whales.

The Center has been working against California driftnets for decades -- so while we continue our work to close this fishery altogether, right now we welcome the council's decision as a great victory. As the Center's Catherine Kilduff said, "Keeping awesome ocean creatures safe requires fishing smartly, not with mile-long driftnets."

Read more in our press release.

Reward Offered for Info on Illegal Wolf Kill in Washington

WolfFollowing the illegal killing of a wolf in Washington state Feb. 9, the Center is helping fund a reward for information. The 2-year-old black wolf from the Smackout pack was found shot dead in Stevens County; she'd been captured last year and fitted with a radio collar to track her movements.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is offering a $22,500 reward -- which includes contributions from the Center and other conservation groups -- in the case.

Wolves in Washington are just beginning to recover, and any wolf deaths from unnatural causes can impede the progress of that recovery. In addition to this illegal shooting, within just the past year five Washington wolves have died from causes such as automobile collisions; one was shot by a deer hunter. There are only about 52 wolves in the state, with 13 packs and five breeding pairs.

Read more about the case and learn details about our work to recover West Coast wolves.

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Bill Maher: You Can't Be an Environmentalist if You're Not Worried About Human Population

Bill MaherTV host and political commentator Bill Maher recently interviewed journalist and author Alan Weisman on his show, discussing human population growth, which is the focus of Weisman's acclaimed book Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth?

Right away in the interview, Maher declared, "You really can't be an environmentalist ... if you're not someone who's extremely concerned about overpopulation." Weisman responded that, unfortunately, population is something most environmental groups won't touch.

Most groups, that is, except the Center -- where, during the last five years, we've put population growth's impacts on wildlife in the spotlight when no one else would. Through outreach and innovative projects like our free Endangered Species Condoms, we've pulled population back into the environmental discussion.

Maher also highlighted rampant overconsumption in the United States, a nation that uses about 20 percent of the planet's resources. More people need to have the conversation about population and overconsumption's frightening implications for our environment -- and the Center is happy to see Maher bring it into living rooms across this consumption-crazy country.

Watch Maher's Weisman interview; then check out the Center's own interview with the author.

Protect Orcas From Deadly Navy Sonar -- Take Action

Killer whalesOff the coast of Washington, Oregon and California, the Navy continues to drop "practice" bombs into the ocean and blast high-intensity sonar into areas critical to endangered orcas, dolphins and other marine mammals. What's not easily seen may be easy to ignore -- but Navy sonar puts these animals at risk of severe and permanent hearing loss. The trainings can disrupt their feeding, migration and breeding and sometimes drive them out of areas vital to their survival.

A few months ago the Center scored a temporary win for orcas and tranquil seas when a court agreed that the government had not considered important new science about the dangerous impacts of sonar use in the Pacific Northwest. The ruling called for the Navy to do a new environmental review of its trainings -- one that addresses these impacts and helps keep marine mammals safe.

But now that the Navy is back to the drawing board, it needs to hear your voice. Take action now and tell our naval forces they must find a way to train that won't hurt our ocean's highly vulnerable wildlife.

California Bans Retail Sale of Super-toxic Rat Poisons

Northern spotted owletsAfter advocacy by the Center and allies, on Tuesday California approved a statewide ban on direct-to-consumer sale of some of the most dangerous rat poisons. The ban, which goes into effect July 1, prohibits the sale of certain products known by the brand name d-CON. The makers of the products are the only manufacturer to sell these anticoagulant rodenticides directly to the general public. But the super-toxic poisons will still be available for widespread use by pest-control operators.

Harm to wildlife from rodenticides is common; poisonings have been documented in at least 25 wild species in California, including mountain lions, hawks, endangered San Joaquin kit foxes and northern spotted owls.

"California has taken an important step to reduce the senseless poisoning of wildlife," said Jonathan Evans, the Center's toxics and endangered species campaign director. "But there's no need to leave the 'worst of the worst' poisons on the market, because safe, cost-effective options are readily available that don't indiscriminately kill wildlife."

The California ban comes as the EPA is taking action to ban hazardous d-CON rat and mouse poisons across the country after d-CON refused to take super-toxic rodenticides off the residential market.

Read more in The North Coast Journal.

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Panel: Climate Adaptation Should Include Addressing Population Growth

Polar bear familyPlans to adapt to a warming planet ought to include strategies for slowing the growth of the human population, according to panelists at a recent conference in Washington, D.C.

More than 200 million women worldwide who want access to modern contraception don't have it -- and they're often among the most vulnerable to climate change. In a world stressed by warming temperatures, rising seas and extreme weather, increasing access to family planning services is a simple, relatively cheap way to lower the demand for carbon-intensive fossil fuels and other natural resources.

"If you're not considering population dynamics and access to reproductive health needs, you're not designing the best possible climate change adaptation approach that will bring you the best outcomes," said Kathleen Mogelgaard, an environmental change and security program consultant at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, during the panel discussion titled "Double Dividends: Population Dynamics & Climate Adaptation."

The Center's Population and Sustainability program continues to call attention to the connection between human population and climate change and other environmental crises. As part of that work, we've recently signed on to letters to key legislators requesting an increase in U.S. support for international family planning programs.

Read more about the panel in E&E News.

Oil-spiller BP Is Back to Business as Usual in the Gulf

Deepwater Horizon oil spillRemember BP, the massive corporation that caused the worst oil-spill disaster in American history? Well, it's back at its old antics -- now expanding its oil-drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico. The EPA earlier this month lifted its ban on BP's ability to bid for federal contracts, and the oil giant certainly wasted no time getting back in the game. In fact, BP recently bid on 31 offshore oil-drilling leases in the Gulf, winning 24.

Recall: BP's Deepwater Horizon rig blew up in April 2010 and spilled more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf. An estimated 82,000 birds, 6,000 sea turtles and nearly 26,000 marine mammals, including dolphins, may have been harmed by the spill.

The EPA suspended BP's ability to bid on federal contracts in 2012. But all is apparently forgiven now, as BP heads merrily back into the Gulf.

Read this Center op-ed about BP in The Huffington Post by our Oceans Program Director Miyo Sakashita; then get more details in the National Journal.

Wild & Weird: Dust Devil Becomes "Firenado" -- Watch Video

Dust devilAs if dust devils weren't already devilish enough, a team of firefighters working on a prescribed burn in a wildlife refuge near Denver, Colo., last week caught some fantastic video when a whirlwind swept through their site, picking up tumbleweeds and fire and spewing flaming tumble-missiles toward fire crews.

The video, posted online with a death-metal soundtrack, shows firemen displaying remarkable aplomb as they stroll beside the 200-foot, twisting conflagration. Fortunately no one was injured during the controlled burn that ended up as an out-of-control firenado. The flames were eventually contained.

Watch the video now.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: Gray wolf courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Retron; wolf courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Bernard Landgraf; loggerhead sea turtle courtesy Flickr/cliff1066; wolf courtesy Flickr/; Bill Maher courtesy Wikimedia/David Shankbone; killer whales by Robert Pittman, NOAA; northern spotted owlets courtesy Flickr/USFWS-Pacific; polar bear family courtesy Flickr/tableatny; Deepwater Horizon oil spill courtesy Wikimedia Commons/U.S. Coast Guard; dust devil courtesy Flickr/Mr. Thomas.

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Center for Biological Diversity

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