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Hellbender, Pronghorn, Woundfin Make Top 10 Endangered List

Ozark hellbenderWhat do North American's largest amphibian, the continent's fastest mammal and a rare Utah fish have in common? All three are among the top 10 species in the nation most threatened by water shortages and pollution. The list was released Wednesday by the Endangered Species Coalition along with a new report called Water Woes: How Dams, Diversions, Dirty Water and Drought Put America's Wildlife at Risk.

The report includes three of our favorite species here at the Center for Biological Diversity. The always fascinating hellbender -- a salamander that grows longer than 2 feet -- is struggling against water loss and pollution. (Fortunately the Ozark hellbender was protected under the Endangered Species Act last year as part of the Center's agreement to secure protection decisions for 757 species around the country. We're hoping to do the same for the eastern hellbender.) Drought and climate change threaten Arizona's speedy Sonoran pronghorn -- there are just 500 or so left in the wild, and most are in Mexico. The woundfin made the list too: This fish, which lives nowhere besides the Virgin River that originates in southern Utah, is struggling to survive because people are simply taking too much water out of the river for development and other uses.

Read the full report here.

Amendments Could Stop Dangerous Lead Poisoning Provision -- Take Action

California condorSen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) last night filed two potential amendments to the so-called “Sportsmen’s Act” (S.B. 3525). One would eliminate a dangerous provision (pushed by the NRA) in the original version of the bill that would ban the Environmental Protection Agency from doing anything to prevent lead poisonings in wildlife caused by hunting ammunition and fishing tackle left behind in the wild. The other would require that, before the EPA takes any action, a study be conducted of the potential threats to human health, wildlife and the environment from lead ammunition and fishing tackle.

The Center for Biological Diversity has been fighting for years to get the EPA to remove toxic lead from ammunition and fishing tackle. Lead poisons and kills millions of eagles, loons, endangered California condors and other birds and wildlife each year. Meanwhile, the Center is also backing an amendment in the “Sportsmen’s Act” to prevent polar bear pelts from being illegally imported into the United States from Canada.

A vote on the bill could happen before Thanksgiving. Learn more on our Get the Lead Out page and contact your senators now.

Feds to Seek Trade Protection for American Freshwater Turtles

Blanding's turtleIn response to a 2011 Center for Biological Diversity petition asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to help end the destructive international trade in American freshwater turtles, the Service announced Friday it will propose three species of U.S. turtles for protection at the 2013 meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

More than 2 million live turtles are taken from the wild and exported from the United States each year -- mostly to supply food and medicinal markets in Asia, where turtle consumption rates have soared and native turtle populations have already been killed off.

"Turtle traders are depleting U.S. turtle populations at a frightening rate," said the Center's Collette Adkins Giese. "It's got to stop soon or we're going to lose these incredible animals from the wild."

Read more in New Times.

Suit Filed to Stop Wyoming Wolf Killing -- Help Us Save More Wolves

Gray wolfAt least 49 wolves have been killed in Wyoming in the seven weeks since they lost their federal protection. On Tuesday, the Center for Biological Diversity and allies went to court to stop the killing. Our suit challenges the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Oct. 1 elimination of Endangered Species Act protections for the state's wolves.

Without federal protections, wolves in Wyoming's vast "predator" zone can be freely shot, snared or trapped; killed from aircraft; and pursued on four-wheelers and snowmobiles. Wolf pups may be killed in their dens.

The return of the gray wolf to the northern Rockies is one of America's greatest conservation success stories -- a first step in the recovery of an iconic species critical to maintaining a healthy ecosystem that's now under urgent threat.

Read more about the suit in our press release, consider making a gift to help stop the killing in Wyoming and get a major campaign off the ground for wild wolves on the Pacific Coast, and then share this with friends on Facebook.

Catch Limit Sought to Protect Bluefin Tuna From Extinction

BluefinBoycott.orgAn international commission meets this week in Morocco to decide on limits for catching bluefin tuna; the Center for Biological Diversity has called on the delegates to cap catch limits for these high-value, warm-blooded ocean giants, which are severely threatened by overfishing.

Our nationwide boycott of bluefin, launched after the last international meeting in 2010 and still ongoing, mobilizes consumers and restaurants to stop buying and serving bluefin. We also petitioned for Endangered Species Act protection for bluefin tuna after the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill in the tuna's crucial spawning grounds.

"The fate of bluefin tuna depends on an international negotiation decided almost entirely by fishermen," said the Center’s Catherine Kilduff. "We urge votes that will cap bluefin tuna fishing at current levels."

More than 40,000 people have joined the Center's bluefin boycott campaign. For more information, read our press release.

BLM Proposes Oil Shale, Tar Sands Development on 800,000 Acres -- Speak Out

Razorback suckerScaling back a 2-million acre Bush-era plan, the Bureau of Land Management last week proposed opening more than 806,000 acres of public lands in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming to oil shale and tar sands development. Because making oil from shale and tar sands is far more energy- and greenhouse gas-intensive than traditional crude oil production, the plan could set off a massive carbon bomb in the Colorado River basin. Mining could also pollute and deplete the Colorado River and threaten fish like the Colorado pikeminnow, razorback sucker, humpback chub and bonytail chub.

"In the face of global warming, a drying West and Frankenstorms like Hurricane Sandy, devoting public lands to dirty, high-carbon development is destructive public policy," said the Center's Taylor McKinnon. "Today's plan isn't as bad as the Bush administration's, but it makes clear that the Department of the Interior is still listening to the fossil fuel industry and its politicians more than climate scientists."

Read more in our press release and take action to protect state lands in Utah from dangerous tar sands development.

Video Chat: Obama's Second Term, Climate and 'Superficial Women'

Kierán Suckling on HuffPo LiveThe Center for Biological Diversity's op-ed on the top five priorities for President Obama's second term generated some serious debate last week -- mainly because we voiced our disappointment over the utter lack of progress, in the past four years, on the most pressing environmental issues of our time: climate change, ocean acidification and the species extinction crisis.

The op-ed was the catalyst for a live video segment on Huffington Post on Friday that included Center Executive Director Kierán Suckling as one of the panelists. The 30-minute discussion veered into unexpected places -- Daryl Hannah, graphene chips and, uh, a question about "superficial women" -- but the bottom line was clear: If Obama's going to tackle these critical issues, he needs to hear from the American people and see them in the streets calling for real action.

Watch the HuffPost Live segment and then read the op-ed by Kierán that kicked it all off (and share both with your friends).

Buy a Photo, Help Save Wildlife

Grizzly bear photographed by Joel SartoreThe Center for Biological Diversity is launching a new partnership today with famed nature photographer Joel Sartore, who has dedicated much of his career to photographing rare and endangered species around the world.

Each month on our Facebook page, we'll be highlighting one of Joel's spectacular photos of an endangered species. The Center's friends can buy that photo -- and any others by Joel -- and get a discount; plus, the Center will get 5 to 10 percent of the proceeds. We'll take that money and put it right back into our work to save more plants and animals from extinction.

Learn more on our new Web page and stay tuned for updates on the Center's Facebook page. ("Like" us here.)

Tell Salazar to Save West Coast’s Only Marine Wilderness -- Take Action

White pelicansWhen California's Point Reyes National Seashore was created four decades ago, an existing commercial oyster operation within Drakes Estero was given a generous but limited 40-year lease to operate within the national park. The 1976 Point Reyes Wilderness Act passed by Congress intended for the commercial operations to cease in 2012 so that Drakes Estero -- a biologically important estuary that is the ecological heart of Point Reyes -– could revert to a wilderness designation.
Now, the new operator of the oyster lease and other commercial interests are trying to renege on the agreement for wilderness protection. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar will decide in the coming weeks whether to issue a new commercial lease or honor the Wilderness Act. We need your help to make sure Secretary Salazar does the right thing. Drakes Estero, the West Coast's only marine wilderness area, is important habitat for scores of species, including harbor seals, white pelicans, leopard sharks and bat rays.
Please click here to tell Secretary Salazar to protect this incredible wilderness on California's coast.

Wild & Weird: Need Green Cleaning Products? Try Flesh-eating Beetles

Human skull being cleaned by flesh-eating beetlesLooking for Earth-friendly, nontoxic home-care solutions that really work -- at least for maintaining your personal collection of display-ready skeletal specimens? The Natural History Museum in London has landed on a great, albeit creepy-crawly, green alternative to peroxide and carbon tetrachloride: hundreds of flesh-eating beetles.

That's right: Dermestes maculatus, a hairy beetle that lives on every continent except Antarctica, is now a working member of the museum's preservation department, scurrying and nibbling away at cadavers of animals whose skeletons are destined for study and display. Unlike nasty chemicals, these six-legged solvents -- which can consume nearly nine pounds of flesh a week -- won't cause damage to those valuable bones.

Check out this time-lapse video to see the beetles ravage a parrot, owl and pheasant; to see what they're dining on in real time, check out the Museum's live flesh-eating beetle cam.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: pronghorn by Robin Silver, Center for Biological Diversity; Ozark hellbender courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Brian Gratwicke; California condor courtesy Flickr/Isaac Hsieh; blanding's turtle courtesy; gray wolf courtesy the National Park Service; Bluefin Boycot logo; razorback sucker by Mark Fuller, USFWS; shot of Kierán Suckling on HuffPo Live; grizzly bear (c) Joel Sartore; white pelican courtesy Flickr/Len Blumin; human skull beiing cleaned by flesh-eating beetles courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Sklmsta.

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