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2 Texas Fishes Protected Along With 623 Miles of River

Sharpnose shinerBig news for two tiny Texas fishes: As part of the Center for Biological Diversity's historic 757 species settlement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has just finalized Endangered Species Act protection for the sharpnose and smalleye shiners, along with 623 miles of the streams they live in. These two unique fishes are both small, iridescent green minnows -- the sharpnose with an upward-turning snout, and the smalleye with a more downturned muzzle.

Both shiners live only in prairie streams in the arid upper Brazos River watershed, where they face severe threats from decreased water flow, drought, groundwater pumping, nonnative plant invasion and climate change. Despite a 2004 Center petition to protect them, they'd been languishing on the "candidate list" since 2002. By now, they've disappeared from more than half their historical range and survive in just one population.

But finally, on Friday, these unfortunate fishes earned federal protection under our 2011 settlement that set legally binding deadlines for protection decisions for 757 species across the country. So far it has helped nearly 150 animals and plants.

Read more in our press release.

GE Crops, Bee-killing Pesticides Banned on National Wildlife Refuges

BeeIn February the Center joined the Center for Food Safety in a legal petition to the Fish and Wildlife Service to ban genetically engineered crops and bee-killing neonicotinoids on our country's national wildlife refuges. Growing GE crops leads to massive increases in herbicide use, and using neonicotinoids is causing disastrous bee die-offs and bird declines, so we argued that these practices have no place on lands set aside to protect wildlife.

In a momentous victory for the birds and the bees, the Service just granted our request: GE crops and neonicotinoids will be banned in wildlife refuges nationwide. Now the 150 million acres of our national wildlife refuge system will truly be a refuge for wildlife, including the nearly 300 threatened and endangered species that call these lands home. The Service is the first U.S. agency to ban two of the most harmful practices in agriculture in recognition of their unacceptable environmental impacts.

But we won't rest until wildlife everywhere are protected from dangerous agricultural practices. The Center's Lori Ann Burd, author of the petition, said in a recent Oregonian op-ed, "With mounting evidence linking neonicotinoid use to grave environmental impacts, a much wider U.S. ban is in order."

Read Lori Ann's op-ed in the Oregonian and learn more in The Seattle Times.

55,000 People Call for Investigation of Dog Killed by Rat Poison

NyxoCalifornia Attorney General Kamala Harris this morning heard from more than 55,000 people seeking a state investigation into the death of Nyxo, a scientist's dog who was poisoned by the same kind of powerful rat poison his owner has been studying because of its harmful effects on wildlife.

Nyxo died in early February after ingesting red meat and the highly toxic rat poison brodifacoum. His family had not fed him any red meat, and his death remains suspicious. His owner, Dr. Mourad Gabriel, is one of the leading ecological researchers on the dangers that the rat poison poses to species like imperiled Pacific fishers and spotted owls.

The Center for Biological Diversity and the Animal Legal Defense Fund are offering a $20,000 reward for information about the poisoning of Nyxo. We also helped organize citizens in calling for justice for Nyxo, including letters seeking an investigation by California officials.

The Center delivered the messages today. Thank you to all who spoke out for Nyxo.

Read more in our press release and learn more about our work to ban these powerful rat poisons.

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Another Walmart? Florida Project Would Destroy Vital Habitat -- Take Action

Bartram's scrub-hairstreakIn a bizarre and disturbing twist, pieces of south Florida's last remaining pine rockland forest -- habitat for some of the state's rarest bats and butterflies -- could soon be paved over for yet another shopping center called, of all things, Coral Reef Commons. Last month the University of Miami sold 88 acres of this biologically rich habitat to a developer called Ram Realty Services. And now the greenwashing for this project has begun.

Ram's plan is to set aside 40 acres as a preserve to offset the 88 acres of pine rocklands it will destroy -- a raw deal for the imperiled bats, butterflies and plants whose home will be buried by a Walmart, LA Fitness Center, Chili's and Chick-fil-A, plus 900 "high quality" apartments.

Act now and tell Ram Realty that it can keep its integrity and avoid a boycott of its stores by protecting these native species and giving up its plan to bulldoze this important land.

Feds Yank Proposal to Protect Rare Utah, Colorado Plants

Graham's beardtongueIn the far reaches of Utah and Colorado, two wildlflowers -- the White River and Graham's beardtongue -- have been on the waiting list for Endangered Species Act protection for more than 30 years. Last year, we thought their time had finally come when the Fish and Wildlife Service at last proposed to protect them, as well as 84,000 acres of their most important habitat.

The situation was dire, the agency said: Some 94 percent of their populations were at risk of being lost or harmed, including by oil shale development and cattle grazing.

This week, though, the agency did an abrupt about-face, withdrawing its proposal for federal protections in exchange for a hastily drafted, strictly voluntary "conservation agreement" with the Bureau of Land Management and local governments.

The Center and our allies have been fighting hard for years to save these imperiled plants. Now it looks like we'll need to fight this latest Obama administration move to deny protection for some of the species that need it most.

Read more in The Salt Lake Tribune.

Rising Sea Levels: A Pain for Cities on All Coasts

Flooding in Annapolis, Md. Aside from being deadly and destructive, sea-level rise is a pain in the neck. A new study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says "nuisance flooding" -- the kind that floods streets, overwhelms storm drains and causes other inconveniences -- has risen by more than 900 percent in some coastal areas since the 1960s. And the East Coast has seen the worst of it: This coast is home to 8 of the top 10 cities coping with that kind of trouble.

The report says Annapolis and Baltimore, Md., have seen their number of flood days jump by more than 920 percent since 1960. Port Isabel, Texas, on the Gulf Coast, had a 547 percent increase, while San Francisco increased 364 percent.

And you know another place threatened by sea-level rise and global warming? Martha's Vineyard. That's where President Obama and his family will be this month on vacation. And that's where the Center's Frostpaw the Polar Bear will be too -- calling on the president to do everything he can to keep the seas from rising any further.

Learn more about the study from NOAA and read about our work to save people and wildlife from sea-level rise.

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California Court Rejects Dangerous Oil Project Near Pinnacles National Park

California condorAs California grapples with a devastating drought, a Monterey County judge has ruled against a dangerous new oil development near Pinnacles National Park that could waste millions of gallons of water and result in hundreds of wells being drilled in important wildlife habitat.

The ruling comes in response to a Center lawsuit challenging the Indian Wells project, which would use cyclic steam injection, a water-intensive and polluting form of oil extraction. The project site is important foraging habitat for the California condor. The court said San Benito County failed to properly analyze the project's water pollution risks, greenhouse emissions and threats to wildlife.

"This legal victory helps protect California's water, wildlife and climate from dangerous new oil development," said the Center's Kassie Siegel. "It makes no sense to fast-track dirty and risky new oil projects when it's painfully obvious we have to shift to cleaner energy sources to respond to the climate crisis."

Read more in The Californian.

As Human Population Doubles, Invertebrate Populations Drop 45 Percent

SpiderMost everyone cares about endangered species like polar bears, seals, wolves and eagles. But smaller species are important, too -- and at risk in a big way.

According to a new study published in Science, 67 percent of the world's invertebrates have plunged in population by an average of 45 percent in the last four decades -- just when the human population doubled. Coincidence? Study co-author Rodolfo Dirzo thinks not. "The richness of the animal world of our planet is being seriously threatened by human activities," he said.

And here comes the irony: While people rarely consider invertebrates -- think insects, spiders, worms and crustaceans -- they play an absolutely vital role in our lives at a micro and macro level; for example, 75 percent of the world's crops need insect pollination.

And this doesn't even take into account the intrinsic value of every unique life form on this Earth. The loss of these life forms -- from captivating corals to creepy crawlies -- will indeed lead to what Dizo calls a "very impoverished planet."

Read more at The Verge.

Wild & Weird: Tricky Trap Cave Preserves Fossil Treasure Trove

Natural Trap Cave, Wyo.In a sinkhole cave in Wyoming, an unassuming 15-foot-diameter hole -- partially hidden beyond a little rock ledge -- opens up into a massive pit and has claimed the lives of untold numbers of unlucky animals for thousands of years. Some 85 feet below the opening is a 30-foot-high pile of well-preserved bones and fossils that could be a DNA treasure trove and shed new light on how major climate change at the end of the last Ice Age affected animals.

What kinds of animals took their last steps above Natural Trap Cave in Wyoming? Dr. Julie Meachem, a scientist currently investigating the bone pile, told National Public Radio: "We're talking about Ice Age megafauna like mammoths and dire wolves, American cheetahs and American lions. We're also talking about things that lived through that extinction event like pronghorn antelope, gray wolves and bighorn sheep."

Find out more and listen to the radio interview with Dr. Meachem on NPR.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: California condor courtesy Flickr/USFWS, Scott Frier; sharpnose shiner by Chad Thomas, Texas State University; bee courtesy Flickr/Maja and Marko; Nyxo by Mourad Gabriel; wolves by John Pitcher; Bartram's scrub-hairstreak by Bill Perry, NPS; Graham's beardtongue courtesy Wikimedia Commons/USFWS; street flooding courtesy Flickr/Chesapeake Bay Program; elephant courtesy Flickr/Matt Rudge; California condor courtesy Flickr/USFWS; spider courtesy Flickr/canencia; Natural Trap Cave courtesy BLM.

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