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Mega-sprawl Near California Wildlife Refuge Shut Down

burrowing owl

The Center for Biological Diversity and allies have prevailed against a sprawling California development project. After a series of our coalition lawsuits, the "Villages of Lakeview" -- an exurb for 34,000 people to be constructed right next to the San Jacinto Wildlife Area in Riverside County, Calif. -- was dealt a devastating blow after a court rejected it last week. The 11,350 residential units and 500,000 square feet of commercial sprawl would have hurt wildlife, congested roads, and harmed the area's air quality -- and the world's climate -- by causing an additional 175,000 tons of greenhouse gas pollution every year.

A globally recognized biodiversity hotspot, the San Jacinto Wildlife Area is habitat for hundreds of critters that would've been at grave risk from these mega-sprawl "villages," including 300 resident and migratory birds, like endangered burrowing owls, California gnatcatchers and yellow-billed cuckoos.

Learn more about this boondoggle-that-almost-was in The Desert Sun.

Fatal Epidemic Hits Endangered Gray Bats -- Help Save Them

gray bat

In a terrifying development for one of the most endangered bats in the world, deadly white-nose syndrome has been found in federally protected gray bats. The fungus has killed about 7 million bats across the eastern United States and Canada in just six years -- and it's still spreading west at a rapid clip. The discovery of the disease in gray bats in two Tennessee counties could portend catastrophic losses among gray bat populations.

"There could hardly be worse news for our wildlife than for white-nose syndrome to show up in gray bats," said Mollie Matteson of the Center for Biological Diversity, which this spring petitioned the White House for national action on the disease outbreak. "If the disease proves lethal to them, the entire species could be gone in a few years."

Take action now to tell the feds to move quickly against this epidemic -- one of the worst wildlife outbreaks we've ever witnessed. Read more in the Chicago Tribune and learn about our Save Our Bats campaign.

Power Line for Destructive Mine Delayed

Coleman's coralroot

The controversial Rosemont mine, planned for the beautiful and biodiverse Santa Rita mountains in southern Arizona, has hit another snag -- in addition to broad opposition from concerned citizens. This proposed mile-wide open-pit copper mine would destroy 4,400 acres of habitat for rare species like the Rosemont and Sonoran talus snails, Bartram stonecrop, beardless chinch weed and Coleman's coralroot. The Center for Biological Diversity has petitioned to federally protect all these species.

Now, in response to legal action brought by opponents including the Center, the Arizona Corporation Commission has voted to delay construction of a high-voltage power line needed for Rosemont's construction until the project's proponents get major environmental permits.

Besides submitting formal comments opposing the mine, the Center and allies in 2011 sued the Forest Service over its preparation of the mine's "environmental impact statement" without allowing public participation in key Rosemont meetings.

Read more in our press release and learn about Arizona's Sky Islands conservation.

Suit Filed to Save Crayfish From Mountaintop Removal

Big Sandy crayfish

Found only in Appalachia, Big Sandy crayfish are being driven to the brink of extinction by mountaintop-removal coal mining and other pollution. On Wednesday the Center for Biological Diversity filed suit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to force a decision on whether the animals will be protected under the Endangered Species Act. The crayfish is a keystone species, making burrows that help at least 400 other species to survive.

Along with obliterating plants and animals, mountaintop-removal coal mining is also linked to increased risk of cancer and birth defects in humans. More than 2,000 miles of streams in Appalachia have been degraded by the highly mechanized industry.

The Center and regional allies petitioned to protect the crayfish in 2010. In 2011 the Service determined the species "may warrant" Endangered Species Act protection, but it has failed to take the next required step. Big Sandy crayfish have now disappeared from 70 percent of their range.

Read more about our work to protect 400-plus southeastern aquatic species and find out about our campaign against mountaintop-removal mining. Then learn about the huge "Washington Week" anti-mountaintop-removal rally, starting this Saturday in D.C. -- and register to go if you can. (Or if you can't, stay tuned for an action-alert update next week.)

Help Protect California From Fracking, Read Our Op-ed

California fracking

Fracking -- an oil- and gas-drilling technique that involves injecting millions of gallons of highly pressurized water, mixed with sand and toxic chemicals, deep into the Earth -- poses huge risks to our air, climate, water, wildlife and public health. This year alone, 24 states have considered at least 127 bills to regulate fracking -- but California has done almost nothing to regulate or even monitor the practice. Meanwhile, fracking is getting more and more common in the state.

The Center for Biological Diversity filed a formal protest to stop the Bureau of Land Management from leasing out more than 2,500 acres of sensitive land in two California counties for oil and gas development -- including fracking -- without fully examining its environmental effects. When the BLM ignored our opposition, we and our allies sued.

Now we've launched a California fracking Web page and have a powerful new opinion piece in The Sacramento Bee by our own Kassie Siegel. Read them; then take action against California fracking.

82 Corals Need Protection -- Take Action

coral reef

Colorful and brilliant coral reefs help support an incredible array of life -- a quarter of all marine species and millions of people -- but are defenseless against climate change and ocean acidification, which threaten their existence. The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned to federally protect 82 U.S. coral species, and in response the government published a study with stark implications: Daunting threats could drive two-thirds of these corals extinct by century's end.

Corals' only hope for survival rests in protection under the Endangered Species Act; and after our petition and two notices of intent to sue, the National Marine Fisheries Service is finally evaluating whether to give them that protection.

Take action now to help save corals, and check out our Coral Conservation Web page and this gorgeous coral-reef video. Also, if you live in Florida or Hawaii, visit our events page to get more involved.

Imperiled Bluefin Are Radioactive, But Mercury's Worse -- Help Bluefin Now

bluefin tuna

According to researchers, some bluefin tuna off California are radioactive -- with elevated levels of cesium and potassium released in last year's Fukushima nuclear meltdown in Japan. But the study's lead researcher says the fishes' radioactivity actually doesn't make them unsafe to eat. What does? Mercury, a byproduct of burning coal.

Imperiled bluefin tuna, one of the hugest, fastest and most amazing predators in the ocean, have registered more than six times the mercury limit set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. That's why the Center for Biological Diversity and allies petitioned the FDA in 2011 for stricter rules to protect people who eat fish from mercury in seafood.

Read more in The Daily Beast, check out our Bluefin Boycott page, created to help save bluefin tuna from extinction, and pledge not to eat at restaurants that serve this extremely imperiled fish.

Action Needed to Defeat NRA Lead-poisoning Bills in Senate

California condor

The National Rifle Association and allies in Congress are ramping up their efforts to keep toxic lead bullets in their arsenal. The NRA is trying to ensure that federal agencies can never take action to prevent the needless lead poisoning of birds and other wildlife -- millions of which consume spent lead from hunting ammo and toxic lead fishing gear every year.

In April, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the misnamed bill "the Sportsman's Heritage Act of 2012," hoping to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating toxic lead in hunting ammunition. But the NRA's political cronies have also sneakily tacked on legislation as an amendment to another House bill -- the Department of Defense appropriation bill -- that would remove the EPA's authority to regulate lead components of ammunition and fishing tackle under our nation's toxics law. Although the NRA's extremist bill has little chance of passing an open vote in the Senate, we need to ensure the Senate doesn't let a pro-lead-poisoning amendment be added to other legislation.

Please take action now to tell your senators to stop any pro-lead-poisoning legislation, read about the Center for Biological Diversity's notice of intent to sue the Forest Service in the Arizona Daily Sun and learn about our long campaign to get the lead out.

Wild & Weird: A Breathtaking Fish Story -- Watch Video

climbing perchA young boy in Malaysia hooked a climbing perch (Anabas testudineus) while fishing in a drain near his home. To end the unpleasant floundering of his catch, he attempted to bite its head off. But this particular fish has an unusual evolutionary trait that turned a midday snack into a horror show. Known locally as ikan puyu, the perch possesses a special organ that lets it breathe oxygen from the air -- for days.

Just as the slippery creature felt the boy's jaws closing, it slid down his throat and became stuck there, squirming -- and breathing -- for an extended period. Fourteen hours later doctors finally removed the ex-perch from the boy, who was fine -- though he may have been exhaling a certain aroma de fish.

Check out this cool video of climbing perch and read more in The Star.

Kieran Suckling

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: gray bat courtesy USFWS; burrowing owl (c) Robin Silver; gray bat courtesy USFWS; Coleman's coralroot (c) Ron Coleman; Big Sandy crayfish (c) Guenter A. Schuster; California fracking courtesy Flickr Commons/Justin Woolford; coral reef at Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge courtesy Flickr Commons/USFWS Pacific; bluefin tuna courtesy NOAA; California condor (c) Lorraine Paulhus; climbing perch courtesy Flickr Commons/SEAFDEC/AQD.

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