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Feds Quash Trump Rule Weakening Habitat Protection
Wolverines, golden-winged warblers, and many other rare animals and plants now have a better chance of escaping extinction.
Last week the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries revoked a Trump-era rollback severely limiting their ability to protect habitat for endangered species. The rule limited critical habitat to areas that could currently support a protected species, excluding areas the species used to occupy that could be restored — as well as areas the species might need as climate change shifts where it can live.
“I’m relieved the Biden administration has taken this important step,” said Stephanie Kurose, a senior policy specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “But with the extinction crisis accelerating, it needs to move faster to restore the power of the Endangered Species Act and reform federal agencies.”
The Center recently petitioned the wildlife agencies to not only undo the Trump-era rollbacks to the Act, but also to push for ambitious new safeguards to strengthen all aspects of this lifesaving law.
SCOTUS Limits EPA Climate Action
The Supreme Court today ruled in West Virginia v. EPA to limit the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to curb power-plant emissions under the Clean Air Act. While today’s decision didn’t go as far as some feared, the Court’s recent decisions make clear that no precedent is safe from the extremist majority.
This decision spotlights the need for President Biden to declare a national climate emergency, end new oil and gas development on public lands and waters and phase out existing drilling, and work with Congress to reform and expand the Supreme Court.
There’s something you can do, too. Keep an eye on your email inbox tomorrow for a way to help.
Petition Filed for Shortfin Mako Sharks
On Tuesday the Center and partners notified NOAA Fisheries of our intent to sue to win Endangered Species Act protections for shortfin mako sharks, the fastest-swimming sharks in the world. Shortfin makos are highly migratory, with a range extending across many tropical and temperate ocean waters. They’re being tragically overfished for their fins and meat.
“The Fisheries Service failed to protect shortfin makos despite an international scientific consensus that conservation action is urgently needed,” said Center scientist Alex Olivera. “Even as the rest of the world scrambles to save these sharks from extinction, they have no protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. That needs to change.”
Fuel the Center’s fight for sharks and other wildlife with a gift to our Saving Life on Earth Fund.
Lawsuit Seeks Help for Colorful Arizona Snake
The Center just sued the Fish and Wildlife Service for denying Endangered Species Act protection to beautiful, sand-swimming Tucson shovel-nosed snakes for a second time.
“Reckless development in Tucson and Phoenix is gobbling up their habitat,” said Noah Greenwald, our endangered species director. “Tucson shovel-nosed snakes are just one of the many obviously imperiled species the Service has wrongly chosen not to protect. It’s time for Biden officials to take bold action to reform the agency.”
Suit Challenges Public-Lands Fossil Fuel Expansion
The Center and allies sued the Biden administration Tuesday for resuming oil and gas leasing on public lands. Our lawsuit challenges the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s approval of oil and gas lease sales this week across 128,510 acres of public land in Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming. The lease sales will harm the climate, public health, air and water quality, and wildlife like greater sage grouse.
“We’re out of time: Our climate can’t afford any new fossil fuel extraction,” said the Center’s Taylor McKinnon. “Biden is breaking campaign promises by leasing more public land for fossil fuel extraction when we should be phasing it out.”
New Endangered Species Mural in Canada
This mural of endangered piping plovers is located in Selkirk, Manitoba — our first-ever Endangered Species Mural in Canada.
It tells the story of a piping plover's life, from its time as a curious hatchling at a near-shore sand-dune nest to its adulthood, when it heads out over open water in full breeding plumage. Some of the birds in the mural are banded to show human concern and investment in the species’ wellbeing. This mural was cosponsored by the Interlake Art Board.
“Plovers are charismatic, charming birds, and they deserve our protection,” said Roger Peet, artist and director of our mural project. “Our goal with each mural is to help people connect to the species who make their local areas unique.”
Rare Southeast Flower Proposed for Protection
Following a Center petition and lawsuit, the Fish and Wildlife Service just proposed to protect the Ocmulgee skullcap under the Endangered Species Act. Adorned with soft blue-violet petals, this imperiled flower has only 19 populations left, many containing fewer than 20 individual plants. It’s threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, competition from invasive plants, climate change, and more.
“Protecting the Ocmulgee skullcap also helps protect beautiful riversides and forests in Georgia and South Carolina, which benefits everyone,” said the Center’s Elise Bennett. “Safeguarding habitat along the Ocmulgee and Savannah river corridors is critical to saving this lovely little flower.”
Biodiversity Briefing: Wildlife Connectivity
In our latest quarterly Biodiversity Briefing presentation, the Center’s Elise Bennet and Tiffany Yap discussed how endangered species like mountain lions — plus panthers, California tiger salamanders, gray wolves, manatees and many others — are being pushed toward extinction by habitat loss and a lack of wildlife corridors to protect them from increased human activity, urban sprawl and development.
Check out the briefing to hear what the Center is doing to keep these species safe in California and Florida, and learn about wildlife connectivity’s role in our strategy to save life on Earth.
These personal briefings, including Q&A sessions, are open to all members of the Center's Leadership Circle and Owls Club. For information on how to join and be invited to participate live on the calls, email Development Associate Joe Melisi or call him at (520) 867-6658.
That’s Wild: Hat-Wearing Crab Found in Australia
A newly discovered species of fuzzy-looking crab wears a living sponge on its head like a cap. These beige-brown creatures, one of which was recently found by a family on a beach in Western Australia, are named Lamarckdromia beagle after Charles Darwin’s famous ship.
After picking up sea sponges whose biochemicals help ward off predators, the se "fluffy crabs" cut them down to size with their claws, perch them atop their heads, and proceed to wear them indefinitely. Snazzy.
Read more in The Guardian.
Center for Biological Diversity | Saving Life on Earth
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Photo credits: Wolverine by Gregor Maclennan/Flickr; shortfin mako shark by Mark Conlin/SWFSC Large Pelagics Program/Wikimedia; smokestack by Señor Codo/Flickr; Tucson shovel-nosed snake courtesy USGS; sage grouse by Tatiana Gettelman/USGS; piping plover mural by Roger Peet; Ocmulgee skullcap by Jennifer Koches/USFWS; mountain lion cub via USFWS; trees via Pixabay; Lamarckdromia beagle by Gamfura, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
Center for Biological Diversity
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