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New Mexico Butterfly Gets Long-Sought Protection
After decades of work by the Center for Biological Diversity, Sacramento Mountains checkerspot butterflies have finally won Endangered Species Act protection.
The Center first petitioned to safeguard these butterflies in 1999, when federal scientists found out they were declining. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to protect them two years later but reversed course — and straight-up rejected our second petition. Now these stunningly patterned insects, found only in high-elevation meadows in southern New Mexico, have been nearly wiped out by grazing, development and motorized recreation. Recent surveys found only 23 adults left.
“It’s going to take heroic efforts to save this species, because threats have only intensified over the past two decades of shameful hemming and hawing,” said Center biologist Tierra Curry.
Butterflies are among the most at-risk insects, with almost 20% of all U.S. species imperiled. Tell President Biden to take bold action to protect these fragile fliers.
Suits Aim to Save Snakes, Fish, and Larks
The Center filed three lawsuits this week to save individual species and populations — one for southern hognose snakes, one for Montana's Arctic graylings, and one for the few streaked horned larks left in Washington and Oregon.
Southern hognose snakes, who have tipped-up noses used for digging and burrowing, depend on the Southeast’s longleaf pine forests — 97% of which have been cut down or lost to fire suppression.
Arctic graylings are members of the salmon family with large, glamorous dorsal fins and beautiful colors. Their cold-water streams are being drained for irrigation while the feds and state break promises to protect these fish.
Streaked horned larks, named for their dashing head plumage, are protected as threatened instead of endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Our lawsuit seeks better safeguards.
Help our fight for larks and other species with a gift to the Saving Life on Earth Fund.
Take Action: PVC Is Hazardous Waste
PVC is everywhere: in toys, clothing, furnishings, packaging, building materials, automobiles, electronics, and many other household goods.
Numerous studies over decades have found that polyvinyl chloride is highly toxic, releasing carcinogens and other dangerous chemicals into the air, water and food web. Despite the threats it poses, there are no regulations on its disposal. That means discarded PVC ends up in landfills and incinerators, where it contaminates ecosystems and harms human health.
Recently the Environmental Protection Agency had an opportunity to start reining in this poison plastic by classifying discarded PVC as hazardous waste. It failed to do so.
Tell the EPA that you disagree with its decision: Discarded PVC must be regulated as hazardous waste.
In Memoriam: Phil Pister, Savior of Pupfish
A California biologist who once single-handedly saved a species by carrying tiny, critically endangered fish across the desert in 30-pound buckets has died at 94.
Edwin Phil Pister famously carried the world’s last few Owens pupfish out of their drying-up pond in 1969. Realizing that the fight against extinction must stretch across generations, he mentored scores of younger biologists and was the first chairman of the Desert Fishes Council — one of a handful of visionary biologists who drafted the United States’ first list of endangered fish.
Even in the three decades after he retired, he lived 10 minutes from Fish Slough, the home of his beloved pupfish.
“In the long run, things like preserving pupfish are far more important than running a successful space program,” Pister once said. “For if we fail in the former, our spaceships may well, at some future date, find themselves with nothing to return to.”
Rest in peace, friend of the little fish.
Big Win for Beautiful Boundary Waters
For years the Center and allies have fought to protect Minnesota’s breathtaking Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness from a proposed copper mine. Last week we saw an incredible victory when the U.S. Department of the Interior issued a 20-year ban on mining across 225,000 acres of public lands near the wilderness.
Thank you for being by our side in this fight over the years. Center supporters sent more than 30,000 letters to help save the area’s unspoiled landscapes, gorgeous lakes and rivers, and crucial habitat for wildlife like Canada lynx, moose and gray wolves.
“Now Congress needs to permanently protect this national treasure,” said the Center’s Marc Fink. “We won’t rest until the entire watershed is safe.”
Happy 50th, Endangered Species Act
Despite Poaching, Feds Fail to Help Ghost Orchid
On Jan. 24 the Fish and Wildlife Service missed its legal deadline to decide on protecting iconic ghost orchids, the subject of the bestselling book The Orchid Thief and the film Adaptation.
Leaving the species without crucial safeguards, this delay comes as two people allegedly took a ghost orchid — and more than 30 other rare and endangered plants — from Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park late last year.
“Ghost orchids are struggling to survive human greed and a multitude of other threats,” said Elise Bennett, the Center’s Florida director. “Endangered Species Act protection is crucial.”
We’ll do whatever it takes to save these ghosts from disappearing.
Revelator: Saving Stingrays in the Amazon
Power Shutoffs Continue Amid Record Corporate Profits
U.S. utility companies are raking in the dough while consumers struggle with increasingly unmanageable energy bills — all to pay for fossil fuel projects driving the extinction crisis and climate emergency.
A new report by the Center and partners shows just how bad it’s gotten. Since 2020 U.S. companies shut off people’s electricity more than 5.7 million times, shelling out billions of dollars to shareholders and executives instead of using a fraction of that to forgive the debts of needy households.
“It’s inexcusable for utility executives and shareholders to profit while Americans suffer climate extremes and get punished for being poor,” said the Center’s Selah Goodson Bell.
That’s Wild: Free-Living Dolphins in the Bronx
In the 19th and 20th centuries, New York City’s Bronx River was a dumping ground for industrial waste. Fertilizers, oil, and zoo waste killed off many of the plant and animal species who once lived in and along the waterway.
Now, after decades of habitat-restoration efforts, things are starting to look a lot better. One clear sign? Dolphin sightings — the first in years.
The city’s Department of Parks and Recreation recently shared a video of bottlenose dolphins who’d found their way into the river in search of food, following the agency’s successful release of hundreds of alewife fish in 2018.
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Photo credits: Sacramento Mountains checkerspot butterflies courtesy USFWS; Arctic grayling © Ernest Keeley, streaked horned lark by David Maloney/USFWS, southern hognose snake by Bladerunner8u/Wikimedia; PVC pipes by Carol VonCanon/Flickr; Phil Pister by John Wullschleger/Wikimedia; Canada lynx by Eric Kilby/Flickr; alligator by Judy Gallagher/Flickr; ghost orchid by Tony Pernas; ocellate river stingray by Luis Lucifora; Powerless in the United States report cover courtesy Center for Biological Diversity; bottlenose dolphin by K. Schneider/Flickr.
Center for Biological Diversity
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