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Feds Cave to Pressure, Abandon Plans to Protect Wolverines

WolverineDespite serious threats from global warming, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week overturned the recommendations of its own scientists and withdrew its earlier proposal to protect American wolverines under the Endangered Species Act.

There are only 250 to 300 wolverines left in the lower 48 states, primarily in the Northern Rockies. Global warming in the next 75 years is expected to wipe out 63 percent of the snowy habitat they need to survive.

On Tuesday, though, top officials at the Fish and Wildlife Service said they will no longer pursue plans to protect wolverines. There's been no new science casting doubt on the strong scientific consensus supporting a 2013 proposal to give wolverines federal protection. But the proposal came under intense opposition from states like Montana and Idaho.

"Global warming has put wolverines firmly on the path toward extinction in the lower 48, so it's really alarming to see the Obama administration cave to political pressure like this," said the Center for Biological Diversity's Noah Greenwald. "This is the moment when wolverines need our help the most, and the agency is turning its back and walking away."

Read more in the Los Angeles Times.

Florida Butterflies Win Protection, 22,000 Acres

Florida leafwingFollowing the Center's historic 757 species agreement, this week the Fish and Wildlife Service protected two beautiful Florida butterflies under the Endangered Species Act, along with more than 22,000 acres of their habitat.

The Bartram's scrub hairstreak butterfly has gray wings with striking bits of color, while the Florida leafwing -- as its name implies -- looks like a dead leaf when at rest. The leafwing lives only in Everglades National Park, and the hairstreak can be found in Big Pine Key, Everglades and on other conservation lands. The butterflies have lost much of their habitat to development, and they now also face climate change and sea-level rise. Both have been waiting for protection since 1984, but a 2011 Center settlement forced the Fish and Wildlife Service to move forward on protection decisions for 757 species, including these two dainty insects.

This week's critical habitat designation includes lands that are slated for development for a new strip mall featuring a Walmart, Chili's and Chick-fil-A. Unfortunately, despite these butterflies' protections, this shopping center might still be built.

Act now and tell the developer south Florida doesn't need another strip mall, then read more in the Miami Herald.

So Wrong: Aspen Art Exhibit Mounts iPads on Rare Tortoises -- Take Action

African sulcata tortoiseWhile it's true that great art provokes, we should be wary of art that confuses what is visually interesting with what is just. At the Aspen Art Museum in Colorado, until Oct. 5, a controversial exhibit from renowned Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang will feature three exceedingly rare African sulcata tortoises with a pair of iPads stuck directly onto their massive shells. Even more bizarre, each screen will show video footage of nearby ghost towns as the ancient turtles walk around.

That the exhibit is meant to evoke a sense of potential and already experienced loss is quite clear. Sadly, though, the exhibit is yet another example of humans exploiting wildlife -- for our benefit, not theirs -- which is precisely why so many species like these tortoises are endangered.

Don't give this exhibit a free pass just because it's billed as art. Act now and urge the Aspen Art Museum to remove this exhibit and give these tortoises a real sanctuary.

Alaska Refuge Bans Bear Hunt -- Thank You

Kenai brown bearIn a big victory thanks to both the Center's work and our online supporters, Alaska's Kenai National Wildlife Refuge just announced a proposed year-long ban on brown bear sport hunting, covering both the 2014 fall hunt and the 2015 spring hunt.

The Center has been pushing for this ban through action alerts and, just this week, a petition to the refuge to permanently ban brown bear hunting. Last year, out of fewer than 600 unique Kenai Peninsula brown bears, at least 71 were killed -- and another 52 were killed this spring. These bears are special -- likely genetically distinct from other brown bear populations, and definitely physically isolated.

Center supporters sent more than 70,000 letters in response to our alerts to help stop the hunt. Thank you.

Read the press release about this week's petition and stay tuned for more action opportunities to make this hunt ban permanent.

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Center Poll: Most Californians Want Offshore Fracking Banned

DolphinA new poll commissioned by the Center finds that a majority of California voters back a ban on offshore fracking, and 65 percent want oil companies prevented from dumping fracking chemicals into the ocean.

The poll results were released Tuesday, just as the California Coastal Commission was meeting in San Diego. We've been pushing state and federal officials to take strong action on offshore fracking, which involves blasting water and industrial chemicals into the sea floor. Right now, the oil industry has federal permission to annually dump more than 9 billion gallons of wastewater, including fracking fluid, into the ocean off California's coast.

"Californians know that offshore fracking poses a toxic threat to our entire coast," said the Center's Miyoko Sakashita. "This poll offers the Coastal Commission one more reason to halt fracking in our delicate ocean ecosystems. It's time to protect our wildlife, beaches and coastal communities from dangerous fracking chemicals and the risk of a catastrophic oil spill."

See more results of our poll in our press release.

Snorkels for the First Family? Martha's Vineyard Trip Highlights Sea-level Rise

FrostpawAs President Obama vacations on Martha's Vineyard, Mass., the Center's Frostpaw the Polar Bear -- joined by a troop of Center staff and supporters -- has been right behind him, trying to deliver swim masks and snorkels to his whole family (including Bo, the First Dog). Why? Without stronger federal action, the president's vacation island will be one of the places hit hard by sea-level rise.

Frostpaw and his squad, wearing snorkels and handing out satirical sea-level rise flyers, have made quite a splash in the coastal community this week. They followed Obama to the Farm Neck Golf Club and a posh fundraising dinner, spoke with media, posed for photos with visitors and even hosted a special screening of the Oscar-winning documentary The Island President.

The message: Protect our coasts from sea-level rise before we all need snorkels.

Read about and watch Frostpaw and crew at Cape Cod Times and check out our new Hope You Can Swim Web page and video spoof.

Help Halt Idaho Kill-fest for Wolves, Coyotes -- Take Action

Gray wolfIdaho is at it again. A group calling itself "Idaho for Wildlife" is asking the Bureau of Land Management for permission to hold a three-day predator-killing derby targeting wolves, coyotes, mountain lions, bobcats and foxes.

Organizers are hoping this sick event -- on 3.1 million acres of public lands -- will draw in hundreds of people eager to take pot shots at these incredible animals. They'll even offer cash prizes to whoever kills the largest wolf and whoever kills the most coyotes.

Unbelievably, the BLM is actually considering this request, even at a time when scientists are increasingly concerned about the loss of predators on our wild landscapes. We need your help to stop this "predatory derby" in its tracks.

Please take a moment today to tell the BLM to reject this deadly proposal.

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Study: Keystone's Carbon Pollution Way Worse Than Once Thought

Oil sands facility in Alberta, CanadaA new study finds that the Keystone XL pipeline could produce four times more global warming pollution than the State Department estimated earlier this year. The pipeline, designed to deliver dirty tar sands oil from Canada to refineries in Texas, would increase world greenhouse gas emissions by up to 121 million tons of carbon dioxide a year, according to the study. The State Department said previously that, at most, it would increase it by 30 million tons (still unacceptable, of course).

And if that wasn't enough, consider this: Right now, the Obama administration isn't even calculating the cumulative climate costs of projects like Keystone and the Alberta Clipper pipeline expansion, which would double the amount of dirty tar sands oil piped across Canada and Minnesota. This week, the Center joined a coalition of groups calling for a true accounting of these dangerous projects.

"The Obama administration can't pretend these fossil fuel projects happen in isolation. Keystone XL and the Alberta Clipper expansion will have significant climate impacts and, together with fossil fuel development happening around the country, will push us deeper and deeper into the climate crisis," said the Center's Marc Fink.

Read more in the Portland Press Herald and check out our press release.

Coming Soon to the Southeast: One Giant Strip of Sprawl

Traffic jamOver the past 60 years, the southeastern United States population has grown 40 percent faster than in the rest of the country, and it shows no signs of stopping. In fact, new research from the U.S. Geological Survey warns that the entire region could become one big megalopolis by 2060.

A megalopolis is as scary as it sounds -- one giant sprawl of unbroken urban development spanning several major cities. According to USGS, the entire corridor from Raleigh to Atlanta could be paved over for roads, housing and businesses. One thing a megalopolis doesn't include: wildlife habitat.

In a region that already faces extreme weather and threats of sea-level rise from climate change, the further loss of habitat and increased emissions from more people and more roads would endanger the health of both human and wild inhabitants. But it doesn't have to be that way. By addressing population growth, urban planning and wildlife conservation now, the Southeast can still take a detour from this mega-disaster.

Read more about the Southeast megalopolis in The Washington Post.

Wild & Weird: A Camera-kissing Marmot -- Watch Video

MarmotA Greenpeace USA activist was recently attempting to capture time-lapse video of the effects of global warming on the plants and animals of Glacier National Park -- when a cute little marmot interrupted the footage and licked the camera.

Although the video quickly shifted from stark and depressing to insufferably adorable, Greenpeace would like you to remember: "In Glacier National Park, global warming is melting glaciers and shrinking the alpine tundra environment... Shrinking tundra threatens marmots and other animals that live up high in these mountains."

Watch the video on Greenpeace's YouTube channel and read more at The Huffington Post.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: Wolverine by Steve Kroschel, USFWS; wolverine courtesy NPS; Florida leafwing courtesy Flickr/Carlos De Soto Molinari; African sulcata tortoise courtesy Flickr/Sebastian Niedlich; Kenai brown bear by Rebecca Noblin, Center for Biological Diversity; wolves by John Pitcher; dolphin courtesy Flickr/Blue Dolphin Marine Tours; Frostpaw by Valerie Love, Center for Biological Diversity; gray wolf courtesy Flickr/Spirit-Fire; elephant courtesy Flickr/Matt Rudge; Alberta oil sands facility courtesy Flickr/Pete Williamson; traffic jam courtesy Flickr/Maggie Mbroh; marmot courtesy Flickr/John Breitsch.

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