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Three Victories for Right Whales
The past few days have brought thrilling wins for right whales in both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
Off the coast of Alaska, North Pacific right whales moved closer to escaping extinction when, in response to a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity and partners, NOAA Fisheries announced the whales may get expanded habitat protections. With only about 30 individuals left in their eastern population, these are the world’s most endangered whales, ranging from the Bering Sea to Baja California.
And in the Atlantic, where lobster fishing poses a dire threat of entanglement, critically endangered North Atlantic right whales have declined to only 336 individuals in just a handful of years. But this week a federal court ruled in favor of the whales — and the Center and allies — in our long-running case challenging the Fisheries Service’s failure to take sufficient action to save them. Separately, an appeals court reinstated seasonal protection for right whales off Maine, where lobster fishing lines are banned in certain federal waters between October and January.
Challenge Filed to Planned Kills of 72 Grizzlies
Nevada Lands and Wildlife Win — Thank You
After Center supporters sent 16,000 comments in just 10 hours, this week the House Rules Committee rebuffed a proposal to transfer hundreds of thousands of acres of Nevada public lands to the military and private developers. Introduced by Rep. Mark Amodei, the measure would’ve harmed bighorn sheep, hundreds of thousands of migratory birds, and endangered Dixie Valley toads.
“I’m so pleased this destructive threat to public lands has been stopped in its tracks,” said Patrick Donnelly, the Center's Great Basin director. “Nevada needs more birds, not more bombs.”
Thanks to everyone who took action and helped save Nevada's wildlife.
New Report: 10 Climate-Saving Forests at Risk
A new report by the Center and allies spotlights the 10 worst logging projects on federal lands across the country. Federal agencies are targeting mature and old-growth forests for logging despite the fact that their greatest value lies in their ability to curb climate change and house precious biodiversity like spotted owls and Pacific fishers.
Nearly a quarter of a million acres of old forests managed by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management are at stake — but the agencies routinely sidestep science to “turn carbon-storing giants into lumber,” says the report, called Worth More Standing.
“The Biden administration can help curb climate change by permanently protecting mature and old-growth trees,” said the Center’s Randi Spivak.
Suit Challenges Weak Rule on Mexican Wolves
The Center and allies have sued over the latest federal rule on managing the Southwest’s unique, critically endangered population of Mexican gray wolves. The rule, just released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, fails to respond to the wolves’ genetic threats, sets a much-too-low population target, and cuts wolves off from habitat they need to survive and — eventually — thrive.
The smallest gray wolf subspecies in North America, Mexican gray wolves are among the most imperiled mammals on the continent. The Center has been working to save them since our 1990 lawsuit, which led to their reintroduction to the wild.
“Underlying this faulty rule is a determination to keep killing wolves and avoid effective wolf releases, all on behalf of the livestock industry,” said the Center’s Michael Robinson.
TikTok ‘Frog Army’ Trend Could Have Dire Consequences
A young man on TikTok has garnered millions of likes in posts about building a “frog army,” allegedly gathering more than more than 1.4 million eggs to hatch into tadpoles in a pool he built in his UK backyard. Another TikTok user recently claimed to have released 100 million ladybugs in New York City’s Central Park.
Stunts like these may sound like a boon for nature, but experts — including Center biologist Tierra Curry — warn their potential impacts are no joke.
“It makes me cringe,” said Tierra. “Instead of helping, [these TikTok users] are actually hurting the animals they’re releasing and all the animals in the environment that they’re releasing them into — it’s creating a vector for disease and invasive species.”
Read more in The Guardian.
Congress Urged to Boost Funding for Renewables
As the United States struggles to make progress on climate action, the Center and allies have called on Congress to increase funding for President Biden’s historic executive orders to spur renewable energy production under the Defense Production Act.
“We’re at a crisis point for our climate and our energy future, and we need action now,” said Gaby Sarri-Tobar with the Center’s Energy Justice program. “Biden’s clean energy directives add urgency to the climate fight, but Congress must fully fund this to spur the just, renewable future we need.”
That’s Wild: How Zoology Gets Females Wrong
In Western narratives nature’s often presented as a masculine world, where female animals are dominated by males, mothers are dedicated solely to protecting their young, and chaste female animals resist male seduction.
But a new book by Lucy Cooke, Bitch: On the Female of the Species, argues that female animals are “just as promiscuous, competitive, aggressive, dominant and dynamic as males.”
Bitch gives us a look at the queens of the animal kingdom, from female lemurs who boss around males to same-sex female albatross couples raising chicks.
Get more from ScienceNews.
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Photo credits: North Atlantic right whale courtesy NOAA Fisheries; Yellowstone grizzlies by I Ting Chang/Flickr; sage grouse by Tatiana Gettelman/USGS; Mexican spotted owl courtesy USDA; Mexican gray wolf by Robin Silver/Center for Biological Diversity; European common frog by Richard Bartz/Wikimedia; armadillo by Melissa McMasters; rooftop solar panels in the public domain; lemurs by Matthias Appel/Flickr.
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