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Heartbreaking News: Last Known U.S. Jaguar Dies After Capture

As many of you know, a tragedy transpired this Monday when Macho B, a wild endangered jaguar captured and outfitted with a radio collar in February, was recaptured and euthanized by the Arizona Game and Fish Department after being found suffering from kidney failure. More details are coming out daily that his repeated capture and sedation were the leading cause of Macho's untimely death. At 15 to 16 years old, Macho B was believed to be the oldest wild jaguar, and currently the only wild jaguar, living in the United States. For 15 years the Center for Biological Diversity has worked in the courtroom to protect this rare big cat, and the devastating loss of Macho B comes just weeks before our lawsuit -- calling on Fish and Wildlife to develop a federal recovery plan and protected habitat -- is slated to begin. The death of Macho B is a harsh illustration of why a recovery plan that evaluates the risks of capture to the animal and the species before any snaring or collaring occurs is desperately needed for wild jaguars to survive here.

The Center, joined by more than 60 concerned citizens and the emailed comments of supporters, held a memorial service for Macho B outside the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Tucson, Arizona offices yesterday, calling for a recovery plan and protected habitat for jaguars. The loss of Macho B is being felt all over the country, and we need your help now to use this sadness to keep the pressure on the Fish and Wildlife Service for real protections. Please take a moment now to tell the Obama administration to protect and recover jaguars and make a gift to the Jaguar Recovery Fund.

Read more on Macho's death in the Arizona Republic and check out what veterinarian Dr. Dean Rice had to say about its causes in the Los Angeles Times.

Obama Announces Endangered Species Act Rescue

Our country's best wildlife law will soon rise from the ashes of its Bush administration near-demise, according to a Tuesday memorandum issued by President Obama announcing he'll rescind Bush's rules eviscerating the Endangered Species Act. The undoing of the rules means that thousands of potentially species-harming federal activities exempted by Bush from independent review -- including activities generating greenhouse gases -- will again be the rightful subjects of scientific scrutiny by federal agencies. A full defeat of the rules may require more action by the new administration, but Tuesday's announcement is an essential first step. The Senate is now considering a bill that would let the Obama administration, with the stroke of a pen, rescind both Bush's Endangered Species Act changes and a special rule weakening protections for the polar bear.

When Bush's Endangered Species Act regulations were finalized in December, the Center for Biological Diversity was already in court to fight them. We're glad to see scientists back in the driver's seat for endangered-species management and hope Obama will fully rescind both the Endangered Species Act changes and the polar bear rule.

Read more in the Washington Post.

Pacific Fisher Closer to California Protections

Finally responding properly to a Center for Biological Diversity petition, this week the California Fish and Game Commission did a complete 180 on its position regarding safeguards for the Pacific fisher, voting to deem the rare forest carnivore threatened or endangered under the California Endangered Species Act. The plucky, slender-bodied Pacific fisher, one of the few species that preys upon porcupines (no, it doesn't really eat fish), has been devastated by historic fur trapping and continued logging in its old-growth habitats, and fishers in California are now reduced to two small populations. Still, upon a recommendation by the California Department of Fish and Game, last August the Commission rejected our petition to protect the species. After a Center public-records request showed that most of the Department's own biologists had supported our petition, the Commission decided to reconsider its fishy August decision.

Thanks to another Center petition, the Pacific fisher is also a candidate for federal protections, and we'll be watching to make sure it gets those protections soon.

Check out our press release and learn more about the Pacific fisher.

Capitol Power Plant Shut Down at Gathering -- Watch the Center's Videos

In the largest act of peaceful civil disobedience on climate change in U.S. history, this Monday more than 2,000 climate activists from across the country braved a snowstorm and freezing temperatures to take part in Capitol Climate Action, an event that successfully blocked and shut down the coal-fired Capitol Power Plant in Washington, D.C. In addition to sponsoring the event, the Center for Biological Diversity's Francisca Santana, climate associate with our Climate Law Institute, participated alongside protesters, including environmental activist Bill McKibben and climate scientist Dr. James Hansen.

The Center has long been behind Dr. Hansen's scientifically supported avowal that atmospheric greenhouse gases must be reduced to 350 parts per million or below in order to avoid the most profound effects of global warming. As Hansen declared at the gathering, "What has become clear from the science is that we cannot burn all the fossil fuels without creating a very different planet."  In order to get to 350 ppm and save life on earth as we know it, the Center is actively working to stop the construction of all new coal-fired power plants and the phaseout of all existing coal-fired plants.

Read more in USA Today, read Francisca's firsthand description of what went down -- complete with videos -- and check out this slideshow of the action.

Lawsuit Looming Over Oil and Gas Sale in Kit Fox Habitat

To stop a sale of 23 oil and gas leases in California's San Joaquin Valley, last week the Center for Biological Diversity and Desert Survivors filed a formal protest and warned the Bureau of Land Management we'll sue over the sale's impacts on habitat for the endangered San Joaquin kit fox. In approving the sale, the Bureau authorized the leasing of 4,402 acres of public lands for oil and gas development -- including building wells, running seismic lines, and building roads -- while glossing over the lease sale's harmful effects on the kit fox, whose numbers have been declining since 1967. All parcels in the sale are in critical kit fox habitat and would exponentially step up one of the greatest threats to the species: habitat fragmentation. Besides allowing harm to the kit fox and other San Joaquin Valley species, the oil and gas sale would ensure more greenhouse gas pollutants are spewed into the air.

"The information in the Bureau's environmental documents misrepresents the full nature of continued oil and gas development in the San Joaquin Valley," said Melissa Thrailkill, staff attorney with the Center's Climate Law Institute. "It is based on outdated information, and if allowed to stand, will damage the local environment and push the kit fox ever closer to the edge of extinction."

Peruse our press release, where you can also read our notice of intent to sue, and learn more about the San Joaquin kit fox.

Feds Announce Rewrite (But Not Demise) of Bush Oil-shale Plans

Last week, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced plans to withdraw the Bush administration's proposal for expanded oil-shale leases in the Southwest -- but instead of rescinding Bush's illegal regulations, Salazar announced Interior would offer a second round of research, development, and demonstration leases for oil shale on public lands in Colorado and Utah. While it's good that Bush's proposal was scrapped, any plans for oil-shale development are bad news for Southwest lands and the global atmosphere: Producing oil shale is dirtier than the dirtiest coal, more land-intensive than conventional oil, and more water-intensive than farming in the desert --and it isn't even yet commercially viable.

The Center for Biological Diversity is involved in two lawsuits opposing the Bush administration's oil-shale regulations, which violate a series of laws and fail miserably in adequately addressing environmental impacts.

Read more in the Houston Chronicle.

Alaska Mayor Backs "Whalin' Palin" Against Endangered Beluga

February proved another bad month for Alaska's endangered Cook Inlet beluga when Mayor Dave Carey of the Kenai Peninsula Borough, adjacent to Cook Inlet, expressed his support for Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's pending lawsuit contesting protections for the whale. Meeting with the Kenai Peninsula chapter of the Industry Support Alliance, Carey showed complete agreement with Palin's adamant opposition to the whale's October 2008 Endangered Species Act listing, which it so desperately needs to survive in Alaska's dirtiest, fastest-growing watershed. In protecting the beluga, Carey childishly declared, the federal government has chosen to "punish" all the boroughs that surround (and, ahem, pollute) the whale's Cook Inlet home.

Also in February -- about a month after Palin's chief of staff wrote an Anchorage Daily News op-ed unbelievably titled "Protection Requirements for Cook Inlet Belugas Are Silly" -- online magazine fought back with "Whalin' Palin," a clear-eyed article revealing the backwardness of Palin's recent actions against the beautiful white cetacean. The article highlights quotes from our own Brendan Cummings, ocean program director for the Center for Biological Diversity -- who first petitioned, and then sued, to help earn the whale's protections.

Check out a radio transcript on Mayor Carey's statements and read's article for yourself.

Center Supports Speak-out Against Overpopulation

February 2009, the "littlest" month of the year, has been fittingly declared a month of action and communication on a huge issue: skyrocketing human population growth that's hurting our planet and pushing other species toward extinction. Last week, the Center for Biological Diversity announced our support for the Global Population Speak-Out, a collaborative effort by scientists, activists, and others worldwide to highlight the issue of overpopulation in efforts to restore the planet's health. Humans are now hogging up to 40 percent of the world's "net primary productivity," a measure of solar energy converted to life-sustaining resources by photosynthesis -- and in the process, we're fueling nearly every ecological problem, from species extinction to resource depletion to the biggest threat of all: climate change.

"Many of us are working hard to reduce our carbon footprints," said Randy Serraglio, conservation advocate with the Center. "But in the end, unless we get a handle on runaway population growth, it may simply become a case of too many feet."

Check out our press release and learn more about the Global Population Speak Out.

FOX News Belittles "Pint-sized" Pika's Plight

More than two weeks after the administration settled a Center for Biological Diversity lawsuit over protecting the American pika, last Friday FOX News finally covered the issue in a slyly disparaging piece taking stabs at the most innocent party involved: the pika itself. Instead of directly attacking "pika partisans" for efforts to stem the climate change that threatens the pika with extinction (or as FOX so deceitfully describes it, "forcing businesses, manufacturers, and energy producers to shut down across the country"), the article turns the pika's admittedly appealing appearance against it by rattling off words like "cute" and "furry" right and left in a subtly demeaning way. Not only is the pika "hamster-like" and "pint-sized," FOX says, this "runty relative of the rabbit" is also apparently at fault for its own imperilment -- it just can't cut it in the modern world due to some pesky thick fur that leaves it tiresomely "unable to survive in temperatures warmer than 80 degrees."

Runty or not, the pika is making progress: Thanks to the Center's lawsuit, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service has agreed to decide by May on whether to protect it under the Endangered Species Act.

Read FOX's article for yourself.

KierĂ¡n Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: Macho B memorial service courtesy Center for Biological Diversity; Macho B courtesy Arizona Game and Fish Department; polar bear by Pete Spruance; Pacific fisher courtesy Pacific Biodiversity Institute; Capitol Climate Action by Francisca Santana; San Joaquin kit fox by B. Moose Peterson, USFWS; combustion of oil shale courtesy Department of Energy; beluga whale by Mike Johnston; Earth courtesy NASA; American pika by William C. Gladish.

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