From the Director: How We’re Coping With COVID-19

These are anxious times for many, as we cope with COVID-19 or the prospect of it spreading within our communities. Here’s how the Center for Biological Diversity is handling the crisis.

My first priority is making sure our people are safe and taken care of. The vast majority of our staff is working from home, and our offices are available only to those who need to be there to perform critical functions, if permitted under government directives. We took this as a precautionary step to protect our employees and stem the spread of the virus.

We also took this step so that we can continue to do whatever's needed to save wildlife, protect wild places, and create a safe future for our planet.

Despite the unfolding situation, we continue to stand up for the wild:

  • Our tireless legal and scientific work to protect animals, plants, people, the climate and wild places is ongoing, with an enhanced emphasis on addressing wildlife trade and habitat destruction, two issues at the root of disease outbreaks.
  • We’re keeping a close, critical eye on Congress and the White House to make sure this crisis isn’t exploited by those who want to pollute our air and water, destroy our natural resources or kill wildlife.
  • We continue to build and mobilize our network of volunteers across the country — most of this work is now happening in the digital universe and, in accordance with public health recommendations, we’re not hosting gatherings, protests or other events that violate social-distancing protocols.

The way we work has adapted to the moment, but our mission, dedication and passion have not changed.

We know the extinction and climate crises are barreling ahead. Our public lands remain under threat from oil and gas drilling. Wolves and other keystone species are still being targeted. Neighborhoods still face industrial pollution. Oceans are warming, and pesticide use is going through the roof.

And, to be clear, this is a crucial moment to address wildlife trade and dramatically reduce the risks of future pandemics. That’s why the Center joined more than 100 other organizations urging Congress to tackle wildlife trade and habitat destruction. Our letter notes that 60% of known infectious diseases in people can be transmitted from animals, and 75% of emerging "zoonotic" infectious diseases originate in wildlife. These emergent diseases have quadrupled in the past 50 years.

In addition, we have called on Congress to set aside 1% of total stimulus funds for jobs to address habitat loss, legal and illegal wildlife trade, and the protection of biological diversity here and around the world. Adding law enforcement staff, inspectors at our ports of entry, and building global capacity to address the extinction crisis are all needed if we hope to make future pandemics less likely to occur in the first place.

This work can, and must, continue right now.

We fight because we have to, no matter what else is happening in the world. We do it because we love these species and these places. And that love, which makes us who we are, only grows stronger and more enduring when our world shifts uncertainly.

We’ll never stop fighting for the wild. Your support ensures that can happen, even in the most difficult times.

Without a doubt these are difficult times. Our thoughts are with the Center’s members and volunteers, as well as the healthcare workers, caregivers, scientists and others on the front lines of this emergency.

Thanks, as always, for standing alongside us.

For the wild,

Kierán Suckling, Executive Director

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director
Center for Biological Diversity


Photo of White Mountain National Forest courtesy weesam/Flickr