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Polar Bears Attacked Again in New Offshore Oil Plan

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has made yet another attack on the polar bear. Following a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies, Salazar last week issued a revised offshore oil plan that still allows dangerous drilling in the heart of the polar bear's Alaska habitat. When the Center and partners challenged the Bush administration's 2007-2012 offshore oil-leasing plan, a federal appeals court overturned it for failing to properly analyze environmental impacts of drilling off Alaska's Arctic coast. Yet Salazar's plan revisions reaffirm a 2008 lease sale in polar bear habitat in the Chukchi Sea -- which could have disastrous impacts on part of what's now the bear's federally protected critical habitat. At 120 million acres, hard won by the Center, our members and allies, this is the largest imperiled species habitat reserve in history and absolutely essential to the bear's survival. Salazar's bad offshore plan comes on the heels of a previous attack on the polar bear last week: Salazar's refusal to give the bear the best protections possible under the Endangered Species Act so it can survive the devastating effects of global warming.

Oil development in the polar bear's Chukchi Sea home could spell big trouble for all imperiled wildlife that live there -- bigger than this year's Gulf disaster from the BP spill -- because no technologies exist to clean up spills in icy waters. "Secretary Salazar has apparently learned nothing from either the Gulf spill or the courts," said Brendan Cummings, senior counsel at the Center. "Once again Salazar has placed political expediency over sound science and the rule of law, and polar bears and other Arctic species will suffer for it."

Check out our press release and learn more about the polar bear and Arctic oil development. Then consider making a special year-end donation right now to protect polar bears, wolves and other species against mounting attacks from the White House and Congress. All gifts made by Dec. 31 will be triple-matched, so please give generously and it'll go three times as far. Many thanks to the 1,000-plus people who've already stepped up this month to help wildlife and wild places. We couldn't do this life-saving work without you.

Seven Brazil Birds Gain U.S. Protection

In response to decades-old scientific petitions and a string of lawsuits by the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday finally granted Endangered Species Act protection to seven imperiled birds of Brazil: the black-hooded antwren, Brazilian merganser, cherry-throated tanager, fringe-backed fire-eye, Kaempfer's tody-tyrant, Margaretta's hermit and southeastern rufous-vented ground cuckoo. The campaign to protect these birds -- and more than 60 others around the world -- began in the 1980s, when ornithologists petitioned for their U.S. protection. After the Service delayed those protections, the Center sued to jumpstart the foreign-species protection program and force safeguards for all the birds. Fourteen rare foreign birds earned protections in 2010, with scores of others on their way.

Besides boasting cool names, the newly protected birds have distinctive looks we'd never want to let disappear from Brazil's forests -- like the fringe-backed fire-eye, with its blazing red eyes, or the bright-green-crested Brazilian merganser. "Protecting these species will help attract worldwide attention to the urgent plight of these animals," said Justin Augustine, staff attorney at the Center. "We hope the Obama administration continues to undo the significant backlog of foreign species that deserve protection but have yet to receive it."

Check out our press release and learn more about our International Birds Initiative.

Red Squirrel Defended From Telescopes in Ariz.

To aid the critically endangered Mount Graham red squirrel, the Center for Biological Diversity and allies last week filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Forest Service to stop further environmental destruction caused by telescopes on Arizona's Mount Graham. The telescopes, built by the University of Arizona in habitat for the federally protected squirrel, have escaped evaluation under the Endangered Species Act since the university obtained a congressional exemption in 1988. Today, though, the area affected by the telescopes is 40 percent larger than the 8.6 acres specified in the congressional exemption -- meaning that under the law, the Forest Service (which manages the land) must consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect this eight-ounce, reddish-brown- and gray-furred squirrel.

Only about 200 Mount Graham red squirrels remain. They're severely imperiled mostly due to the piecemeal destruction of their habitat -- including clearcutting around the telescopes of the trees they need to survive, as well as nearby forest burned in 2004 to protect the telescopes. "The effects of this project have gone far beyond what they were supposed to be. We are not going to let the Mount Graham red squirrel be pushed over the brink of extinction," said the Center's Robin Silver.

Read more in the Arizona Daily Star.

Human Population Hits 6.9 Billion This New Year's -- Center Distributes Free Endangered Species Condoms

Here's a sobering thought for New Year's Eve: The German Foundation for World Population -- a nonprofit working internationally to reduce poverty by stabilizing population growth through universal access to birth control -- says the world's human population stands at 6.9 billion on the eve of the new year and will hit 7 billion sometime in 2011.

As we say goodbye to 2010, the Center for Biological Diversity is doing our part to raise awareness about how the staggering population growth of one species -- humans -- is affecting countless other species across the globe. Just in time for New Year's Eve, we're distributing 50,000 of our wildly popular Endangered Species Condoms around the country. Of course, many more condoms are needed to slow this unsustainable growth, but it's the message carried by the condoms that's key. We humans need to think carefully about how we're going to make 2011 the year we turned the corner on the devastating impacts that human overpopulation and overconsumption have on endangered plants and animals. So when you make your next New Year's Resolutions to go green(er), keep in mind we're sharing this planet.

Get more from Times Live and visit our Endangered Species Condoms website to learn more.

Closed Meetings on Harmful Copper Mine Decried

Protesting an unfair and illegal move by the U.S. Forest Service and mining interests, the Center for Biological Diversity and allies on Monday wrote a letter opposing more than a dozen closed-to-the-public meetings between the Service and officials behind the proposed Rosemont open-pit copper mine. The mine, planned for a site in the "Sky Islands" of southern Arizona's Santa Rita Mountains, would blast a hole a mile wide and more than half a mile deep in the middle of an important wildlife corridor and dump billions of pounds of waste rock and mine tailings on federal land in the area, destroying at least 4,400 acres of habitat and potentially wiping out several species. It would also lower the regional water table that supports riparian habitat and species in the area and cause air, water and noise pollution. A required "environmental impact statement" is being drafted for the project, but -- in violation of federal law -- the Forest Service allowed the mining company to participate in more than a dozen key meetings where important decisions were being taken, while failing to include other affected parties -- like the numerous local businesses and community and environmental groups that have been working to oppose the mine.

The Center has opposed the Rosemont mine from the beginning. And we take it extra-personally: The proposed mine is just minutes from our Tucson headquarters. Besides sending comments on the project's environmental effects, educating the public and organizing grassroots opposition, we've petitioned to protect five rare species in the area under the Endangered Species Act: the Rosemont and Sonoran talus snails and three plants -- the Bartram stonecrop, beardless chinchweed and Coleman's coralroot.

Read more in the Arizona Daily Star.

Center Polar Bear PSA Wins Top Ten Award for 2010

The Center for Biological Diversity's striking "Save the Polar Bear" public service ad has just been named one of the best in the country. TV Access, a company specializing in PSAs, recently gave us its Top 10 Award for our live-action educational ad showing the plight of the polar bear. The company says the ad rated in the top 10 percent of all PSAs, as reported by Nielsen Media Research.

More than 90 million people have seen our PSA, which features dramatic, heart-wrenching footage of polar bears struggling to survive in its rapidly disappearing Arctic habitat. The ad says simply, but powerfully: "The Arctic is melting. Polar bears are drowning. Stop global warming." It appeared in both English and Spanish and ran on television stations around the country, from Alaska to New York to Arizona. We're heartened to know that the polar bear's struggle for survival is being noticed far beyond the Arctic.

Watch the award-winning polar bear PSA and visit our polar bear website, where you can also watch a shocking video of polar bears starving this winter -- as many more will if we don't confront global warming head on now.

Protection Sought for Warming-threatened Insect

To save one of the world's rarest and most sensitive invertebrates, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Xerces Society today filed a scientific petition to earn Endangered Species Act protection for the western glacier stonefly. This long-bodied, large-winged aquatic insect is found only in one small part of Glacier National Park in northwest Montana and depends on the frigid water from melting glaciers to survive. Since 1900, the mean annual temperature in Glacier National Park has risen by about 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit -- nearly twice the global mean temperature increase. Of the estimated 150 glaciers in the park in 1850, only 25 remain, and they're shrinking too. Scientists predict that all of Glacier National Park's glaciers will disappear by 2030 -- and take the western glacier stonefly with them. No adults of this stonefly species have been known to be observed or collected since 1979.

"The loss of glaciers in Glacier National Park makes clear that climate change is happening now," said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director with the Center. "The impending loss of the western glacier stonefly is a harbinger of change that will result in the loss of millions of species, disruption of food production, loss of water storage in mountain glaciers, flooding of coastal areas and other impacts that threaten our very way of life."

Read our press release and learn more about the Center's cutting edge climate work.

New Law: Make a Tax-Free IRA Donation by Jan. 31, 2011

Endangered plants and animals deserve a peaceful retirement too. And now they can have a chance at one, due to a new tax law.

The long-awaited IRA charitable donation tax exemption was finally signed into law Dec. 17. It allows individuals who are at least 70½ to donate up to $100,000 tax-free to the Center from their traditional or Roth IRAs. It is tax-free because the donation will not count as personal income (other IRA withdrawals do). It will, however, count as part of your required minimum distribution. And because the law was created so late in the year, it allows retroactive donations to be made up to Jan. 31, 2011 and still count against the 2010 tax year.

So if you love endangered species and have an extra $100,000 burning a hole in your IRA (or $10,000 for that matter, or even $1,000), you can donate it to the Center for Biological Diversity's species protection work within the next month as a tax free 2010 gift.

Click here to learn more.

For Fifth Year in a Row, Center Scores Four Stars for Funds Management

One of the most financially efficient organizations in the nation: That's what the Center for Biological Diversity has been named for the fifth year in a row by the nonprofit evaluator Charity Navigator. In recognition of our responsible use of funds we've again earned a four-star rating -- the highest possible score -- because we funnel as much of our funding as possible (more than 83 percent) straight into saving species and lands, instead of using it up for administration, advertising and other things (like plush-toy marketing gimmicks).

Only 6 percent of charities evaluated by Charity Navigator have received five consecutive four-star ratings, and we're proud to be one of the few. Says our esteemed evaluator, "This 'exceptional' designation from Charity Navigator differentiates the Center for Biological Diversity from its peers and demonstrates to the public it is worthy of their trust."

Check out our Charity Navigator profile and membership FAQ.

Young, Endangered Tapir Seeks Older Female for 2011 Fun; Must Have Long Nose, Patience

Jon-hi, a young, male Malayan tapir, just arrived at the Minnesota Zoo. He's on a mission (though he doesn't know it yet) to save his species by meeting Bertie, an older, female tapir.

Tapirs are one of Southeast Asia's most endangered species. The large, long-nosed, mammal is said to be hog-like, but we think it looks more like a comical (OK, more comical), fat, short-nosed anteater. It's actually more closely related to horses and rhinoceroses.

The Minnesota Zoo wants Jon-hi and Bertie to mate, but Jon-hi is still too young and too small to engage in a "heated and noisy courtship ritual" with the imposing Bertie, so the two will be kept apart for several months.

We'll keep you apprised of Jon-hi's progress and Bertie's patience over the next year.

Read more in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: polar bear courtesy Flickr/flickrfavorites; polar bears by Scott Schliebe, USFWS; fringe-backed fire-eye (c) Arthur Grosset; Mount Graham red squirrel (c) Robin Silver; crowd in Manhattan courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Futurebird; Coleman's coralroot (c) Ron Coleman; polar bear (c) Center for Biological Diversity; stonefly (c) Arlen Thomason; dollar bill courtesy Wikimedia Commons; logo courtesy Charity Navigator; Malayan tapir courtesy Wikimedian Commons/Ltshears.

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