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No. 1208, August 31, 2023
Suit Asks for More Habitat for Southwest Snakes
The Center for Biological Diversity just sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for cutting critical habitat for two endangered snake species — in Arizona and New Mexico — by more than 90% from its original proposal. Northern Mexican and narrow-headed garter snakes are key indicators of the health of the streams they need to survive, but the Service excluded hundreds of thousands of acres of precious waterways from protection despite the findings of experts.
“Fish and Wildlife officials are choosing to protect the interests of ranchers, developers and the Arizona Game and Fish Department at the expense of endangered species,” said Center cofounder Robin Silver. “I hope a judge will force the agency to follow the law and save these rare aquatic snakes from extinction.”
Help us defend these snakes and other species with a gift to our Saving Life on Earth Fund.
Tell President Biden: Don’t Sell U.S. Waters to Big Oil
Four Frogs and One Coral Get (More) Protection
In response to many years of Center work, four populations of foothill yellow-legged frogs in California finally won federal protection on Monday. These small frogs live in streams in Central and Southern California and have lost about half their habitat. We first petitioned for them in 2012.
In other Endangered Species Act news this week, NOAA Fisheries has proposed increased protection for pillar corals, a Florida and Caribbean species the Center won protection for in 2014. Threatened by emerging disease, climate change and more, pillar corals got critical habitat this month.
That’s great news, but it shouldn’t have taken over a decade for the frogs and coral to get the help they urgently need. Tell the feds to do their job by fixing the dysfunctional listing system.
Win for Rice’s Whales in the Gulf of Mexico
Under a new legal agreement secured by the Center and partners, federal agencies will look for better ways to protect endangered Rice’s whales and other vulnerable ocean animals from oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
About 51 Rice’s whales remain on Earth, all in the northern Gulf. They’re the only baleen whales who live there year-round, and they lost 20% of their population to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.
“The Gulf ecosystem has suffered immensely from oil spills and offshore drilling operations,” said Kristen Monsell, the Center’s oceans legal director. “Rice’s whales, loggerhead sea turtles and other species are struggling desperately. It’s time to phase out offshore drilling.”
Wolves Return to California National Monument
This summer biologists confirmed that a new gray wolf family, the Tulare pack, has settled into Giant Sequoia National Monument in California, part of the Southern Sierra Nevada that hasn’t seen wolves in more than 100 years.
The return of wolves to California will help rewild the landscape, and that’s good for whole ecosystems as well as for wolves.
“California has laid out a welcome mat for wolves, and we can keep it there if we don’t get led astray by old fears and misconceptions,” said the Center’s Amaroq Weiss in this Los Angeles Times piece.
Revelator: What Can We Learn From Jaguar Poop?
"Poop is fertile grounds for research,” writes Tara Lohan in one of our favorite new Revelator articles.
She means jaguar poop, which researchers are now using to study the elusive wild cats without intruding on their personal space.
Learn about it for yourself.
That’s Wild: Self-Amputation Saves Fly Lives
A new study has shown that snow flies amputate their own limbs to survive extreme cold.
Scientists understand very little about these flightless flies — partly because they live in frigid alpine areas that are hard for people to reach.
But now we know that if one of the flies’ legs freezes, these amazing insects can actually remove it to keep ice crystals from reaching their bodies and freezing their organs. They leave the leg — or even multiple legs — behind and keep walking.
Check out this video on YouTube or Facebook to see how it works.
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