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No. 1230, February 1, 2024
Pygmy Rabbit, Five Other Species Closer to Help
Six species the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned to protect — pygmy rabbits, Southern Plains bumblebees, two eastern salamanders, white-margined penstemon wildflowers, and Railroad Valley toads — are being considered for that protection by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The species hail from across the United States. Pygmy rabbits are the smallest rabbits in the world and live in the West’s precious, declining Sagebrush Sea ecosystem. Southern Plains bumblebees are key pollinators who were once spread across the grasslands of 26 states but are now half as abundant. Hickory Nut Gorge and yellow-spotted woodland salamanders are native to narrow ranges in the Appalachian Mountains, threatened by coal mining and development, and the penstemon and toad are Nevada natives.
The Fish and Wildlife Service has 12 months to make its decisions. But it usually takes much longer — in fact, federal agencies take 12 years, on average, to protect species. Tell the Service to fix its process now.
Biden Administration Pauses Gas Export Expansion
Following years of work by the Center and allies to stem the supply of fossil fuels, the Biden administration says it will freeze export authorizations for liquefied natural gas. Although it won't affect existing authorizations, it will pause at least 10 Gulf Coast projects, including the Calcasieu Pass terminal — and could signal a major pivot in how the administration considers climate and health harms from oil and gas projects.
While this is an important step forward, the United States remains the world's top oil and gas producer. To save the planet from lethal fossil fuels, we need to phase them out.
If you joined our fight against fossil fuels in the past three years — including last year's March to End Fossil Fuels in New York — thank you. We'll need your support as we keep pushing for lasting change.
Victory for Butterflies, Birds and Wild Nature
Quino checkerspot butterflies, San Diego fairy shrimp, and California gnatcatchers have a safer home in Southern California after the Center and our allies struck a legal agreement to permanently protect 1,300 acres of wildlands in San Diego County.
The wildfire-prone site — where a 1,100-home sprawl development called Otay Ranch Village 14 would have paved over those species’ habitats — will now be preserved through state acquisition of the land.
“This is a big victory in the effort to protect Southern California’s rapidly vanishing wild places,” said Center Senior Attorney Peter Broderick.
New California Wolf Packs Named
This week the California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced it has named two new wolf packs confirmed in the state last summer: the Beyem Seyo pack in Plumas County and the Harvey pack in Lassen County. Another of 2023’s newly discovered packs, Tulare County’s Yowlumne pack, was named in December.
“These awe-inspiring animals continue to show us that California’s wild landscapes are great habitat for wolves and that they’ll find their way here,” said the Center’s Amaroq Weiss.
Win: Nevada High Court Decides for Wildlife
In response to Center legal work, Nevada’s Supreme Court has ruled that the state has a right to manage its groundwater for the preservation of the public interest — including wildlife.
The decision was handed down in a case about the Muddy River in Clark County, where a spring-fed oasis sustains endangered fish called Moapa dace. A proposed city of a quarter-million people, Coyote Springs, had applied for the right to pump out its water.
“In a time of climate change and drought, this ruling will help stop industry from leaving wildlife high and dry,” said Patrick Donnelly, the Center’s Great Basin director.
That’s Wild: Ancient Terror Beasts of the Ocean
A team of scientists just found fossil evidence of a new species of major ocean predator in Greenland. Dubbed
Timorebestia (Latin for “terror beast”) for its huge jaws and long antennae, this swimming worm was likely among the largest and most voracious carnivores half a billion years ago.
Sound terrifying? Well, in this beast’s
heyday — the early Cambrian Period — you could be considered massive at a mere 11 inches in length. According to Dr. Jakob Vinther, who helped write a recent report, “Timorebestia were giants of their day and would have been close to the top of the food chain.”
Uncovering details about these beasts — relatives of today’s tiny arrow worms — gives a major window into the evolution of worms.
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Photo credits: Pygmy rabbit by H. Ulmschneider/BLM and R. Dixon/IDFG; jaguar rosettes courtesy USFWS and Jason Miller; COP28 rally used with permission; Quino checkerspot butterfly by Susan Wynn/USFWS; tapir © Nick Hawkins/Nai Conservation; Lassen pack wolf pup courtesy CDFG; Moapa dace courtesy USFWS; Timorebestia worm illustration by Izzi Stein/Center for Biological Diversity.
Center for Biological Diversity
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