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Feds Delay Permit to Kill Whales, Sea Lions in Calif. -- Thank You

Sperm whaleAfter receiving more than 13,500 letters from Center for Biological Diversity supporters, the federal government decided on Wednesday to put a hold on a fishery's permit to harm and kill marine animals off the California coast.

The National Marine Fisheries Service was about to approve California's swordfish gillnet fishery to "take" (harm, injure or kill) endangered fin, sperm and humpback whales, even after the recent entanglement of two sperm whales in the fishery's long, deadly nets -- which also snare and drown bottlenose dolphins, loggerhead sea turtles, California sea lions and many other imperiled animals.

But after the Center rallied our online activists, the Fisheries Service announced it would withhold the permit until after a meeting is held next week to discuss possible emergency measures to reduce interactions with whales and other endangered species.

"This is a huge victory for sperm whales and other marine mammals," said the Center's Catherine Kilduff. "These incredible whales are already struggling under the stress of climate change, loud noises from military exercises and other threats. Nobody wants more whales to die in California gillnets for a swordfish steak."

Check out our press release.

EPA Sued to Save Northwest Sea Life From Ocean Acidification

Shellfish in Puget SoundThe Center launched a lawsuit this week aimed at getting the EPA to do more to tackle ocean acidification, which is wiping out oysters and threatening ocean ecosystems in Oregon and Washington. We notified the agency we'll challenge its determination that seawater in those states still meets water-quality standards -- even though the water is growing dangerously more acidic because of carbon dioxide pollution.

Shellfish hatcheries in Washington and Oregon have seen production drop 80 percent since 2005. The massive shellfish die-offs are driven by ocean acidification; corrosive waters are coming closer to shore and making it harder for oysters and other shellfish to regrow their protective casings. It's no surprise that the problem is worsening: Every day, the world's oceans absorb 22 million tons of carbon pollution from cars, factories, power plants and other human sources.

If we're going to stop acidification before it causes widespread catastrophe for our oceans, we need the EPA to grasp the scale of the crisis and start pursuing solutions now.

Check out our press release.

Chance to Save Chimps, Both Captive and Wild -- Take Action

ChimpanzeesThe world population of wild chimpanzees has plummeted nearly 70 percent in the past 30 years. And although wild chimpanzees, which live in Africa, have long been listed under the Endangered Species Act, this domestically powerful U.S. law hasn't been able to halt their decline in their native habitat. And captive chimps, kept in a wide range of conditions in the United States as entertainment, pets for the rich, and research subjects in labs, have meanwhile been exempted from protection.

Poachers massacre whole families of chimps so that the infants can be kidnapped and sold -- as many as 10 chimps may be killed for every infant captured for the pet trade. The massacres gravely undermine efforts to save this highly intelligent (see "Wild & Weird," below) and charismatic species.

Now there's hope on the horizon: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing, for the first time, to protect captive chimps. We need your help to make that happen.

Urge the Service to finalize protections for all chimps.

Take Action

Center Calls for Investigation Into Major Southwest Forest Project

Mogollon RimOn Monday the Center called on the Department of Agriculture's inspector general to investigate how a U.S. Forest Service contract is being handled on a restoration and timber project in northern Arizona. The Service announced last Friday it might transfer the contract for the "Four Forests Restoration Initiative" -- to thin trees on almost 1 million acres -- because the company that has that contract now, Pioneer Forest Products, has failed to perform.

Many stakeholders in the Four Forests collaborative -- including the Center -- predicted Pioneer would fail because the company's business plan was deeply flawed. In the year since the contract was awarded Pioneer still hasn't gotten financing for its mill and has hired 12 loggers to thin just 1,000 acres. Worse still, the Service abandoned an important agreement that the project's stakeholders had reached on protecting large trees.

"Ignoring the collaborative agreement was an outright breach of the social license that enabled this restoration project in the first place," said the Center's Todd Schulke, who worked closely with the stakeholder group. "Large trees aren't only critically important to the survival of endangered species, they're also more fire-resistant so they help to reduce the risk of catastrophic fires."

Read more in The Payson Roundup.

Op-ed: EPA Chief's Mission, Stop Climate Crisis

Air pollutionNow that Gina McCarthy has survived her protracted Senate confirmation process to become the new chief of the EPA, it's time for her to tackle an issue that affects people outside the beltway, too: the climate crisis.

As the Center's Bill Snape writes in an op-ed in The Hill this week, McCarthy must make good on President Obama's recent call for action against climate change. "But she also needs to recognize that the president's recently announced climate plan doesn't go far enough to match the urgency of the problem," Bill writes. "To put a real dent in the greenhouse gas pollution warming the planet, the EPA's new chief should consider putting a science-based national cap on carbon pollution."

The cap wouldn't require any new legislation. It would be done under the Clean Air Act and help put us on the road toward reducing carbon in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million -- the level scientists say is needed to avoid climate catastrophe.

Arctic sea ice is already melting, temperature records are breaking, and sea levels are rising. McCarthy needs to act fast.

Read Bill's op-ed in The Hill.

Momentum Builds Against Super-toxic Rat Poisons

San Joaquin kit foxTo protect wildlife, pets and children, the Center and allies just launched a new coalition dedicated to reducing the harms of broadly destructive rat and mouse poisons known as rodenticides. Our Safe Rodent Control Coalition is a group of nonprofit organizations, municipalities, businesses and scientists promoting safer strategies for rodent control.

The launch of the coalition follows a recent decision by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation to allow the continued use of super-toxic rodenticides -- known as "second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides" -- by certified pest-control specialists. California's announcement builds on an EPA move earlier this year for a partial ban on hazardous D-CON (rodenticide) poisons nationwide.

Unfortunately half-steps like the EPA's will still leave poison in the food chain. Numerous scientific studies have documented rodenticides in more than 70 percent of wildlife tested. Poisonings and deaths have been documented in more than 40 wildlife species, including bald and golden eagles, hawks, bobcats and mountain lions -- plus endangered species like the San Joaquin kit fox and northern spotted owl.

Learn more about dangerous rodenticides and safer alternatives at our Safe Rodent Control Coalition website.

Arctic's Bearded Seals Defended From Big Oil

Bearded seal pupBig Oil filed a lawsuit earlier this year trying to strip protections from the Arctic's bearded seals, so the Center intervened last Friday in the lawsuit, defending these mustachioed, golden-voiced and highly endangered pinnipeds.

The oil industry suit was filed against the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for its 2012 decision to protect bearded seals from sea-ice loss under the Endangered Species Act. The rapid loss of pack ice jeopardizes the seals' ability to rear young and reduces key food sources for the seals on their shallow foraging grounds. The seals' winter sea-ice habitat (in the Bering and Okhotsk seas off Alaska and Russia) is projected to decline by at least 40 percent by 2050, while summer sea ice across the Arctic is projected to largely disappear in the next 20 years.

These seals also face threats from proposed offshore oil and gas development off Alaska, where a spill in icy waters would be impossible to clean up. The Center first petitioned for their federal protection in May 2008.

Check out our press release.

Just Released: Our Summer Newsletter

Summer newsletterWe're happy to share the summer 2013 issue of Endangered Earth -- the Center for Biological Diversity's print newsletter -- as an online PDF for easy viewing. Inside you'll find the latest on our fight to protect endangered wildlife, put an end to polluting practices like fracking, and rally opposition to the destructive Keystone XL pipeline.

We've been busier than ever in 2013, leading the pack in the fight to keep America's recovering wolf populations protected, winning more than 739 miles of protected coastline for loggerhead sea turtles, and filing suit to protect thousands of marine mammals from military sonar testing -- among lots of other exciting developments.

We make this members-only print newsletter available to our online supporters as a thank-you for taking action with the Center. Please consider becoming a member today and help us do even more for wildlife. Simply call us toll-free at 1-866-357-3349 x 311 or visit our support Web page to learn more and make a gift.

Read the summer 2013 issue now, or download a copy for later.

Wild & Weird: Chimps Can Remember the Distant Past

ChimpanzeeThe capacity to remember events from the distant past is often presumed to be uniquely human. But a new study published in Current Biology shows that some other primates -- chimpanzees and orangutans, at least -- can remember events that occurred three years in the past.

In the study a team of scientists presented chimps and orangutans with two boxes located in two separate rooms. One box contained useful tools; the other's contents were insignificant. Fast-forward three years: The great apes were brought back to the rooms, and 90 percent found the useful tools instantly -- demonstrating their ability to use cues present in each room to recall the distant event.

Get more about the not-so-strictly human ability to remember the past from BBC News.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: sea lions by Kevin Schafer; sperm whale by Doug Perrine,; shellfish in Puget Sound courtesy Flickr/Ingrid Taylar; chimpanzees courtesy Flickr/Velovotee; grizzly bear image in take action banner by Robin Silver, Center for Biological Diversity; Mogollon Rim by Brady Smith, U.S. Forest Service/Coconino National Forest; air pollution courtesy Flickr/EnvironmentBlog; San Joaquin kit fox by Heather Bell, USFWS; bearded seal pup courtesy NOAA; Endangered Earth Summer 2013 cover; chimpanzee courtesy Flickr/John Verive.

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