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Historic Suit Defends 214 Rare Species From Pesticides

In the most comprehensive legal action ever taken to protect wildlife from pesticides under the Endangered Species Act, the Center for Biological Diversity and Pesticide Action Network North America sued the Environmental Protection Agency today for failing to determine whether hundreds of approved pesticides harm already-imperiled species around the country.

The lawsuit names more than 200 species in 49 states -- from the Florida panther to the Chiricahua leopard frog to the Alabama sturgeon -- that wildlife officials and scientists say are threatened by pesticides. Our lawsuit challenges the EPA for not consulting with wildlife agencies before approving more than 300 pesticides. "For decades, the EPA has turned a blind eye to the disastrous effects pesticides can have on some of America's rarest species," said the Center's Jeff Miller.

Read today's press release and see species threatened in your state on our brand-new interactive pesticides map.

Obama Report Card:  "C-" on Environment

President Obama's second year in office has been like his first: a good news/bad news story. Unfortunately, it's been a little worse.

On endangered species, he revoked some damaging Bush-era policies and protected 120 million acres of habitat for the polar bear, but he also relegated 254 imperiled species to the unprotected "candidate" list and illegally removed gray wolves from the endangered species list. On climate, he began Clean Air Act regulation of CO2 from the largest smokestack polluters but blocked progress toward a science-based climate treaty in Copenhagen and Cancún and adopted a Bush-era decision banning the regulation of emissions to save polar bears. On oceans, he issued a positive decision on protecting Atlantic bluefin tuna, but exempted BP's Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling projects and hundreds of others from environmental review -- even after the Gulf oil-spill catastrophe.

Overall, the Center for Biological Diversity gives Obama's two-year environmental record a disappointing "C-."

Check out President Obama's report card for yourself.

Lawsuit Launched to Protect Polar Bear From Drilling

The fight to save the polar bear has entered yet another arena. The Center for Biological Diversity last Thursday sent Interior Secretary Ken Salazar a formal notice of intent to sue over the feds' failure to defend the polar bear's "critical habitat" from Alaska oil and gas development. Our notice demands that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and new federal offshore drilling agency work together to analyze oil development's impacts on the polar bear's protected habitat and take steps to counter those impacts.

Just weeks after setting aside 120 million acres of habitat reserves for the polar bear -- in response to Center litigation -- the Department of the Interior in December reaffirmed a Bush-era plan authorizing oil leasing in the same habitat. It's also considering letting Shell Oil drill in protected habitat this summer. We'll be counting on you to help us beat back these attacks; the great white bear, already suffering the disastrous effects of climate change, has little time to lose. 

Read more in the Los Angeles Times.

World-famous Chefs Join Bluefin Tuna Boycott

Two of the most renowned chefs in the United States have signed on to the Center for Biological Diversity's Bluefin Boycott pledge, joining our campaign to save one of the world's most prized fish. Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif., and Dan Barber of Blue Hill in Manhattan have declared they won't serve bluefin tuna in their restaurants. They join more than 25,000 people in 99 countries who've pledged not to buy bluefin or go to restaurants that serve it.

Decades of overfishing have pushed the warm-blooded, lightning-fast bluefin toward the brink of extinction  -- and it's even worse off after the BP oil spill hit its Gulf spawning grounds. Aside from the Center's boycott launched in November, we've also petitioned to have the Atlantic bluefin protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Check out our press release, join our Bluefin Boycott if you haven't already and share our Facebook page now.

Grazing Plans Halted on 30,000 Ariz. Acres

In great news for Mexican gray wolves, Mexican spotted owls and other Arizona endangered species, the U.S. Forest Service on Tuesday reversed two decisions that would have allowed destructive livestock grazing across 30,000 acres of the state's public lands. The decision came in response to appeals filed by the Center for Biological Diversity.

The reversals, and our appeals, countered two decisions in October approving grazing on Arizona's Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, home to wolves, owls, pronghorn, deer, elk and tassel-eared squirrels. The Forest Service is now devising a larger land-management plan that would roll back wildlife protections on the forest -- and the Center is opposing it.

Check out our press release and learn more about destructive grazing.

Bailout for Species-killing Golf Course Stopped -- Thank You

After a flood of nearly 4,000 emails from Center for Biological Diversity supporters, we've made progress in our campaign to restore a unique coastal lagoon at Sharp Park in Pacifica, Calif. Sharp Park is habitat for the most endangered serpent in North America, the San Francisco garter snake, as well as for California's largest native frog, the threatened California red-legged frog.

Last fall, Congresswoman Jackie Speier and the city of San Francisco tried to redirect federal wetlands-restoration funding toward reconstructing a sea wall to protect the ecologically damaging golf course at Sharp Park -- not the area's natural resources. The sea wall is an expensive and futile project that would destroy endangered species habitat, lead to more beach erosion and possibly prevent full restoration of rare former lagoon and wetlands habitat.

Fortunately, the amendment necessary to redirect the money didn't pass -- thanks largely to those who spoke out, like you and the Center, which teamed up with the Wild Equity Institute to demand that the money actually be spent on ecosystem and estuary restoration at the park.

Learn more about our campaign to restore Sharp Park.

Lynx to Earn More Protected Habitat

The feds will likely protect more habitat for the stealthy Canada lynx, one of North America's most imperiled predators; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has dropped its appeal of a federal court decision last summer that said the agency's "critical habitat" designation for the lynx was too paltry.

Only about 1,000 Canada lynx remain in the United States, and about half of them are in Montana. After a lawsuit in 1994 by the Biodiversity Legal Foundation (now merged with the Center for Biological Diversity) and allies, the Fish and Wildlife Service in 2000 designated the spotted silver cat as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act. But even after a Center lawsuit overturning a previously inadequate critical habitat decision, the agency failed to base its designation on areas where lynx currently roam, leaving out habitat key for recovery (especially in Colorado). The latest development means the Fish and Wildlife Service will reevaluate how much critical habitat it will assign to this rare and mysterious forest cat.

Read more in the Helena Independent Record and learn about our campaign to save the Canada lynx.

Suit Filed to Block Loan to Proposed Minnesota Mine

The Center for Biological Diversity and four partners on Tuesday sued Minnesota's Iron Range Resources Board over its $4 million loan to PolyMet Mining Company, which has proposed the state's first open-pit sulfide mine. The state agency's loan is premature and illegal under state law because the proposed mine is still going through the required environmental review process. The mine site is in the Superior National Forest, within the Lake Superior watershed.

PolyMet's proposed mine would destroy hundreds of acres of high-quality wetlands, violate water-quality standards for hundreds to thousands of years, and eliminate two square miles of protected "critical habitat" for imperiled lynx and wolves. The draft environmental impact statement for the proposal was deemed "environmentally unsatisfactory-inadequate" by the EPA, triggering the need for a supplemental draft analysis that is still months from completion. 

Read more in the Duluth News-Tribune.

Stop Junk Mail, Save Species

Not doing so well on you New Year's resolution? How about dropping 41 pounds -- from your bulging mailbox? The average adult receives 41 pounds of postal junk mail every single year. Getting those worthless ads, catalogs and sweepstakes letters to you involves a lot of cut-down trees, burned coal, wasted water and climate-dooming greenhouse gases.

So unburden your mailbox with a quick trip to -- a nonprofit that stops 80 to 95 percent of junk mail from ever being stamped with your address -- and help save species at the same time. Because now, when you use, you can designate more than a third of the fee to go to the Center for Biological Diversity.

Reclaim your mailbox with the Center and today.

Wild and Weird: Birds Flirt Using "Scary-movie Effect"

Like a typical teenage boy on a horror-movie date, some birds in Australia use fear to bring female mates closer, a new study has found. The male splendid fairy wren, a small, sexually promiscuous bird from Down Under, uses a special mating song each time it hears the call of the butcherbird, one of its predators. This "vocal hitchhiking" is dangerous because it could alert butcherbirds to the location of their fairy wren prey. But in fact, it does grab the most attention from desired females.

Are male splendid fairy wrens trying to be macho in the face of fear, scoffing at danger to show off to the fairer fairy wrens? The study says no: In fact, the male birds' calls are meant as an alert, the avian equivalent of a man saying "Hey!" to a woman to help protect her. Scientists are now testing how common the "scary-movie effect" is in mating calls of other species.

Get more from Science Daily.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: splendid fairy wren courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Aviceda; Florida panther courtesy USFWS; Barack Obama courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Pete Souza/The Obama-Biden Transition Project; polar bear by David S. Isenberg; bluefin boycott logo; Mexican spotted owl (c) Robin Silver; San Francisco garter snake courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Taka; Canada lynx courtesy Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife; Superior National Forest; logo courtesy; splendid fairy wren courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Julia Gross.

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