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Feds Forewarned: Stop Neglecting Mexican Wolves

Last Friday, the Center for Biological Diversity warned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that we'll sue if it doesn't consider special protections for the Mexican gray wolf. In August, we filed a scientific petition to place this highly imperiled subspecies on the endangered species list separate from gray wolves nationwide. The Mexican wolf needs this distinction to ensure the development of a new recovery plan, which would lay out criteria for how many animals and what distribution are needed to deem it secure enough to remove from the endangered species list. But it's been more than 90 days since our petition, and the Service is still illegally ignoring it -- while genetic diversity in Mexican wolves continues to decline.

"The Mexican gray wolf has fallen through the cracks and is receiving insufficient protection," said Michael Robinson of the Center. "Timely action is essential."

Get more from the Associated Press.

Emergency Safeguards Sought for Rare Sunfish

This Tuesday, the Center for Biological Diversity and an independent biologist filed a scientific petition to immediately protect the minute, extremely rare spring pygmy sunfish under the Endangered Species Act. Once present in three populations, the sunfish is now barely clinging to life in a single population within just five miles of Alabama's Beaverdam Springs complex. Without protection, the tiny remaining population of this tiny fish could be wiped out by urban sprawl, poor agricultural practices, and streamside vegetation clearance.

The spring pygmy sunfish has already been presumed extinct twice since its discovery in 1937. It's one of 110 Alabama fish species that desperately need federal protection -- and soon -- to survive.

Check out our press release and learn more about the spring pygmy sunfish.

Cutthroat Trout Defended From Cutthroat Politics

Challenging a flawed Bush policy that warps the science behind the Endangered Species Act, this Tuesday the Center for Biological Diversity sued to earn protections for the crimson-bellied Colorado River cutthroat trout. Though the Center filed a scientific petition to protect the imperiled fish, in 2007 the Bush administration denied our petition based on a policy letting it consider only the trout's current range -- and not the vastly larger area it used to occupy. Even while denying the fish protection, Bush's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acknowledged that the species has been eliminated from 87 percent of its historic range and is still seriously threatened by habitat destruction, nonnative trout, and climate change.

Our trout lawsuit is one of 55 we've filed in a campaign to overturn politically tainted endangered species decisions made throughout the Bush administration. So far, we've won reversals in all completed cases.

Peruse our press release and learn more about our campaign to clean up the Bush legacy.

Center to Sue Over Blue Whale Killings

To save the largest animals on Earth from some of the largest -- and most deadly -- vessels at sea, last week the Center for Biological Diversity and allies, represented by the Environmental Defense Center, warned the feds we'll sue over their failure to protect blue whales from deadly collisions with ships. According to the 1998 Blue Whale Recovery Plan -- which the feds must legally heed for the sake of the species' survival and recovery -- the National Marine Fisheries Service needs to take steps to eliminate or reduce blue whale mortalities from ship strikes. But despite the documented ship-strike deaths of at least five blue whales off Southern California in 2007 and two more this fall, the agency has done nothing to address the problem for more than a decade.

Hunted to near-extinction by the mid-20th century, blue whale populations have inched their way toward recovery. But now they're faced with a host of new threats, including not only death by ship strike but also climate change, ocean acidification, and ocean noise pollution.

Get more from Marine Science Today.

Agency Hauled to Court for Two Bay-Delta Fish

Taking a stand for two of the most important -- and endangered -- fish in the San Francisco Bay-Delta, this month the Center sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to properly protect the longfin smelt and delta smelt. Formerly abundant throughout the San Francisco estuary, both smelt are now at unprecedented low numbers. And the plight of these tiny fish -- both at the base of the food chain -- has implications for the health of the entire Bay-Delta ecosystem, including runs of salmon, steelhead, and sturgeon. The Center filed a scientific petition in 2006 to upgrade the delta smelt's status from "threatened" to "endangered" under the Endangered Species Act; we petitioned for protection for the longfin smelt in 2007. The Fish and Wildlife Service responded that it wouldn't protect the longfin smelt -- and the agency hasn't responded to our delta smelt petition at all. If we're to stop the "smeltdown in the Delta," both fish must be sufficiently protected as soon as possible.

Read more in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Save Dugongs, Coral Reef From Demise

In Okinawa, Japan, almost 400 types of coral form reefs supporting more than 1,000 species of fish, sea turtles, and marine mammals. But now, the U.S. Department of Defense is planning to build a military airbase near Henoko village, right on top a healthy coral reef that alone sustains at least nine species threatened with extinction, including the imperiled hawksbill, loggerhead, and green sea turtles and the Okinawa dugong -- a rare saltwater manatee of which only about 50 remain. Due to global warming, ocean acidification, and pollution, Okinawa's coral reefs are already threatened with collapse; more than half have disappeared in the past 10 years.

The Center for Biological Diversity and allies from both sides of the Pacific filed suit against the Department of Defense, and last year, a judge ruled against the agency -- but plans are still moving forward. The U.S. government must abandon them if the dugong and other species in the Henoko Bay ecosystem are to survive.

Take action now to tell decision-makers the airbase must not be built. Then learn more about the Okinawa dugong and the Center's work in Japan.

Scientific American Battle to Save Condor

This week, the Center for Biological Diversity's work for California condors in Arizona caught the eye of Scientific American, which highlighted the endangered birds' extreme danger in the face of lead poisoning. Although numerous Arizona hunters -- about 70 percent -- are voluntarily using nonlead bullets to protect the birds (thanks to state incentives and education), lead bullets are still legal within the condor range. Any condor that scavenges carrion shot with just one of these lead bullets can die from lead poisoning -- currently the number-one threat to the species, which was brought almost to extinction in the 1980s. "It doesn't take many hunters using lead ammo to poison a significant number of birds," said the Center's Jeff Miller in an interview. "One flock of birds on a carcass can create an immediate crisis."

The Center and allies' Get the Lead Out campaign won a requirement for nonlead ammunition throughout the condor's range in California in 2007. Now, the Center is working to expand that requirement nationally. But the NRA denies lead poisoning hurts condors, and the group has hired lobbyists and lawyers to stop us from making other states lead-free.

Thanks to all who donated to our Condor Defense Fund -- with your help, we'll defeat the NRA in defense of condors, other wildlife, and even humans who are affected by lead contamination.

Read more in Scientific American.

"If My Name Was Not Mojib Latif, My Name Would Be Global Warming"

Global warming skeptics--notably conservative windbag and Washington Post columnist George Will -- have been using research by leading climate scientist Mojib Latif to deny that global warming is happening. Because Latif's study shows that global temperatures have recently held fairly steady at very high levels, Will and others have said that means the Earth is actually now cooling and it's fine and good to keep spewing fossil-fuel pollution into the atmosphere.

Latif's response? Um, no. The recent plateau is very hot and dangerous compared to long-term trends, and is caused by global warming. Recent ocean currents have held the temperature relatively steady, but that's a temporary offsetting of the warming being locked in by continued greenhouse gas emissions.

Is Latif a global warming skeptic? No, "If my name was not Mojib Latif, my name would be global warming." Now that's a global warming expert.

Listen to an interview with Latif on National Public Radio and take action to fight global warming with the Clean Air Act now.

Forget Black Friday -- Give Greenly With the Center

Yes, it's almost Black Friday, the day millions of people nationwide dive head first into holiday consumption -- with dark consequences for the Earth, from the greenhouse gases emitted in driving to stores, manufacturing products, and shipping gifts to the trees cut down and the landfills filled for the sake of wrapping paper and packaging. But you don't have to hop in a car and head for the mall to get started on your holiday shopping right away. All you have to do is shop with the Center for Biological Diversity online from your home -- and help us save species at the same time. That way, instead of contributing to the holidays' environmental havoc, you'll be helping to counteract it.

We don't sell polar bear and wolf plush toys made in China, but the Center baseball cap is pretty cool.

Get gifts for your loved ones and Mother Earth at the same time through our Green Giving Guide now.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: spring pygmy sunfish (c) Conservation Fisheries Inc.; Mexican gray wolves by Val Halstad, Wolf Haven International; spring pygmy sunfish (c) Conservation Fisheries Inc.; Colorado River cutthroat trout courtesy Wyoming Game and Fish; blue whale courtesy NOAA; delta smelt by B. Moose Peterson, USFWS; Okinawa dugong (c) Suehiro Nitta; California condor courtesy USFWS; coal-fired power plant courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Adilettante; gifts courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Kevin Gay under the GNU free documentation license.

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