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No. 1213, October 5, 2023
No More Drilling: It’s Time to Protect the Arctic Refuge
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska is one of the last intact, wild landscapes of its kind. It’s a sanctuary for a remarkable array of wildlife, from polar bears and awe-inspiring caribou herds to millions of migratory birds.
In its final days, the Trump administration unlawfully issued leases to drill for oil on the refuge’s fragile coastal plain where these animals live. But the Arctic is already heating up at a rate four times faster than the rest of the planet. The stakes for this incredibly vulnerable place couldn’t be higher.
The Biden administration took the right action by canceling the severely flawed Trump-era leases. Now we need to speak up and declare: The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is no place for oil drilling — period.
A Win and a Lawsuit for Red Wolves
Thanks to a Center legal victory, on Friday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finally updated its recovery plan for red wolves, the world’s most endangered canines. The plan calls for crucial conservation measures, like establishing new wild populations and reducing human-caused wolf deaths. But it doesn’t name any specific sites for reintroduction, even though scientists have identified more than 20,000 square miles of habitat that could support almost 500 breeding pairs.
Even worse: The Service has classified the last population of 13 wild red wolves as a “nonessential” population under the Endangered Species Act. That’s only permitted if the population’s loss wouldn’t affect the species’ survival in the wild — obviously not true. Its loss would wipe out the species from the wild.
So on Wednesday we sued to make the Service properly protect these beautiful, highly social animals as an “essential” population.
Help our fight for red wolves and other wildlife with a gift to our Saving Life on Earth Fund.
Protection Wins for Rare Snake, Turtles, Lupine
Thanks to Center action, this week the Fish and Wildlife Service finally proposed Endangered Species Act protection for three rare reptiles — short-tailed snakes and northwestern and southwestern pond turtles — and finalized protection for an imperiled alpine wildflower called Lassics lupine.
Short-tailed snakes, native to Florida and threatened by habitat destruction, are named for the fact that their tails make up less than 10% of their body length. Northwestern and southwestern pond turtles — who live in rivers as much as ponds — are less aptly named but just as threatened, declining where they live in California, Oregon and Washington. We petitioned for all three reptile species in 2012 and sued to speed protection.
Lassics lupine is a gorgeous pink flower with only two known populations, both growing above 5,000 feet in Northern California. We filed an emergency petition to protect the plant in 2016.
To save imperiled wildlife faster, the feds need more funding. Tell Congress to support a bill to help them get it.
Meet the Staff: Collette Adkins
Collette Adkins is a ferocious advocate for wildlife. As the Center’s Carnivore Conservation program director, she works hard to retain Endangered Species Act protection for iconic, imperiled predators like grizzlies, wolves, and Canada lynx. But she’s just as passionate about saving rattlesnakes from bloody “roundups,” coyotes from wildlife-killing contests, turtles from trapping, and more. Animals are lucky to have a friend in her.
Learn more about Collette’s lifelong love for wildlife and how she makes a difference.
Paving the Way for a New National Monument
For decades, Havasupai Tribal elders have worked to protect the land and watershed surrounding their ancestral homeland at the base of the Grand Canyon. As Havasupai Tribal member Carletta Tilousi explains: “Everyone deserves fresh water, clean water. And that’s what this whole campaign is about.”
The Havasupai's unwavering leadership, determination and partnership with other Tribes paved the way for President Biden to designate the Baaj Nwaajo I'tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument in August. The monument permanently preserves nearly 1 million acres of land surrounding the canyon.
Hear more from Carletta and celebrate the protection of the stunning canyonlands with this video on YouTube and Facebook.
Jaguar Caught on Camera in Southern Arizona
That’s Wild: How Box Jellyfish Learn
A new study of Caribbean box jellyfish shows that memory doesn’t always require a brain — at least not a centrally located one.
While box jellyfish differ slightly from other jellyfish — mostly because of their having eyes (24 of them!) — they’re still among the planet’s simplest animals with a nervous system.
Challenging a long-held notion about what animals need for “associative learning” (science lingo for stuff more complex than habit), the recent research showed box jellyfish recognizing new obstacles placed in their way and learning to avoid them.
Still, we don’t recommend offering them steering lessons out in the wild. Some of these fascinating creatures have a painful sting.
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Photo credits: Caribou from the Porcupine herd by Andy Ramey/USGS; red wolf by B. Bartel/USFWS; short-tailed snake courtesy FFWCC, juvenile pond turtle courtesy USFWS, and Lassics lupine by David Imper; Collette Adkins courtesy Alum Stories; video still of waterfall courtesy Center for Biological Diversity; screenshot of USFWS jaguar monitoring website; fly on a strawflower by Daniela/Flickr; Caribbean box jellyfish courtesy Jan Bielecki et al.
Center for Biological Diversity
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Tucson, AZ 85702