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26 Million Acres of Critical Habitat Proposed for Canada Lynx

Lynx kittenIn a victory for rare Canada lynx -- driven toward extinction by trapping and habitat loss -- the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed on Wednesday to protect 26.6 million acres of critical habitat for the animals, spread across six states. The designation expands the size of a 2009 habitat proposal and responds to court challenges from snowmobile groups, which wanted to get rid of habitat protections.

After the Center for Biological Diversity and allied groups intervened to protect the big cats' habitat, a judge ordered the Service to redo its economic analysis, but keep critical habitat in place.

The designation requires that federal agencies ensure their actions will not hurt or destroy the lynx's critical habitat, including by building and maintaining trails for snowmobilers.

Read more in the Minneapolis StarTribune.

State Dept. Ignores Keystone XL's Ugly Toll on Wildlife -- Watch Video

Black-footed ferretsIf the Keystone XL pipeline is built, at least a dozen of America's endangered species will be in harm's way, including whooping cranes, northern swift foxes, black-footed ferrets, piping plovers and pallid sturgeon. A new report by the Center finds that the State Department's review of Keystone largely ignores how oil spills (34,000 gallons per year, the government estimates), 378 miles of new power lines, habitat destruction, and expanded tar sands development will affect some of the country's most imperiled species.

These aren't just bureaucratic oversights. If endangered species are ignored, they'll pay a heavy price when the 1,700-mile pipeline is built in some of the last places on Earth they survive.

"This is yet another black eye in the Keystone XL debacle. The State Department has utterly failed in its duty to fully disclose -- or to reduce -- the impacts of this pipeline on some of the rarest animals and plants in this country," said the Center's Noah Greenwald.

Watch a video of some of the species likely to be hurt and read Noah's op-ed in The Huffington Post.

Thousands Rally Against Keystone, Dangerous Fossil Fuels -- Thank You

FrostpawTalk about inspiring. Last weekend thousands of Americans from coast to coast took to the streets against Keystone XL and other projects that will push our climate closer to catastrophe. The Center, along with and other allies, was part of a national day of action called "Draw the Line."

We were out in force in California's Pinnacles National Park, Albuquerque, Vermont, Florida and beyond. It was great to see so many people from so many walks of life standing together for wildlife, a healthy planet, and safe, sane sources of energy. We had a blast, especially with those who showed up with their own costumes, masks and signs.

Thanks to all of you who turned out -- and stay tuned for our next day of action.

Take a look at this gallery of photos from events around the country.

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Agreement Will Protect 10 Species -- Fox, Birds, Toad, Fish and More

Sierra nevada red foxUnder our 2011 settlement to move forward protections for 757 species, the Center is given 10 species to single out for expedited decisions every year. This year we sped up protection decisions for the Sierra Nevada red fox; a 2-foot-long salamander called the eastern hellbender; three Southeast species, including a fish, a crayfish and a mussel; the boreal toad, which lives in the interior West; a northeastern, mountain-dwelling thrush; and a seaside sparrow and skink that live in Florida. (A critical habitat designation for loggerhead sea turtles, achieved earlier this year, was also part of the agreement).

All 10 species will receive protection decisions within the next five years, with most getting decisions even sooner. The forces driving them toward disappearance are both large and small scale: climate change, habitat loss and destruction, dams, pollution, logging, grazing, off-road vehicles and disease. Protection under the Endangered Species Act is the only way to save many plants and animals from extinction.

Under the Center's 757 agreement, 109 species have been protected so far and another 61 have been proposed for protection.

Read more in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Petition Filed to Save Northern Rockies Fisher

FisherThe Center and allies filed a scientific petition this week to protect Northern Rockies fishers under the Endangered Species Act. Fishers are secretive, cat-like carnivores -- members of the weasel family with slender bodies and bushy tails, so daring they make meals out of porcupines.

Sadly the fisher almost went extinct in the early 20th century because of trapping and logging of old-growth forests -- much like the Pacific fisher of the Northwest, although the Northern Rockies fisher lives along the border of Montana and northern Idaho. Before the fisher was nearly wiped out, it ranged from British Columbia and Alberta through areas of Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Utah.

In 2011 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that fishers in the northern Rockies portion of their range are genetically distinct from fisher populations in the East and on the West Coast. New genetic information has also revealed that the fisher is the only member of its genus -- making it all the more important to save.
Read more in The Montana Standard.

Missouri Cave Fish Latest to Get Protection Under 757 Agreement

Grotto sculpinThe Center's landmark agreement securing protection decisions for 757 species around the country is a gift that keeps on giving -- this week the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service protected the grotto sculpin, a rare cave- and stream-dwelling fish in Missouri, under the Endangered Species Act.

The 4-inch fish lives only in Perry County and for years has been threatened by pollution, including household garbage, old tires and even dead livestock dumped into sinkholes that drain into the groundwater that sculpin rely on.

No habitat has been protected for the grotto sculpin, but we're hoping that a newly developed conservation plan clamps down on pollution and gives this unique cave fish the help it needs to survive.

Read more in our press release.

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Study: Protected Travel Corridors Crucial to Wolf Recovery

Gray wolfA new study finds that wolf recovery in the West may hinge on wolves being able to move safely between populations separated by great distances. Although wolves have returned to areas like the Yellowstone ecosystem, they face long odds of naturally establishing new populations elsewhere when they have to travel through unprotected areas.

The findings, published in Conservation Biology, are the first time scientists have used genetic and habitat data to project how many dispersing individuals are needed to sustain genetic health.

"Our findings imply that we can't restore formerly widely distributed species like the wolf to isolated populations in a few parks and expect them to remain genetically healthy," said one of the researchers, Dr. Carlos Carroll of the Klamath Center for Conservation Research.

The study comes as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to strip protections for all wolves in the United States (except in the Southwest), essentially abandoning the idea of wolf recovery in places like Colorado, Utah and the Northeast.

Read more at the Klamath Center for Conservation Research.

Climate Change Deniers Debut New Distortions

Polar bearHeard the one about Earth entering a period of global cooling? Or maybe you've read that Arctic sea ice is actually growing, so polar bears can relax? A well-funded army of climate change deniers has worked for years to spread misinformation, but two conservative British newspapers recently took scientific ignorance to new levels.

Reality check: Sea-ice extent in September 2013, while above the record low in 2012, is still the sixth lowest on record, as Center Climate Science Director Shaye Wolf points out. And sea ice is still on a rapidly declining trend, as info from the National Snow and Ice Data Center shows. "That spells disaster for polar bears and plenty of trouble for the rest of us," Shaye says.

As for the supposed warming "pause": Surface temperatures are still increasing -- the last decade was the hottest on record -- but much of the heat caused by greenhouse gases has recently been absorbed by the oceans. That trend endangers marine life, and atmospheric temperatures will continue to rise, especially as the ocean heat sink slows.

The bottom line: Climate change is continuing, scientists say -- and continuing to be a dire threat to both biodiversity and human welfare.

Learn more about the Center's climate work through our Climate Law Institute.

International Program Embarks on New Journeys

Loggerhead sea turtleInternational law is notoriously hard to enforce. Yet for the past decade, the Center has been successfully saving animals, plants and habitat outside the United States as well as at home -- winning U.S. protections for South American birds, safeguarding species in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands and fighting destructive military activity in Asia.

Now, building on our International Program's solid history, we're expanding its reach with new energy, new projects and a new director: Sarah Uhlemann, who boasts a proven species-saving record and unsurpassed energy for international work.

Using the U.S. legal system and the Endangered Species Act, we'll be protecting species from American government actions abroad, whether it's subsidizing fossil fuel facilities in the Great Barrier Reef or building military bases in fragile habitat. We're now pushing the United States to ban fish imports from gear that drowns marine animals, pursuing better polar bear protections in Canada, and urging Mexico to protect sea turtles.

"Species are disappearing around the world at record rates," said Sarah. "But with the Center's strong, science-based advocacy, smart legal action and creative diplomacy, we can achieve real, on-the-ground protections -- no matter how far away that ground may be."

Learn more about our International Program.

Wild & Weird: Fly Like an Eagle -- Watch Video

Golden eagleThis week we'd like to offer up two pieces of evidence that eagles are, in fact, radically awesome.

Exhibit A: A wildlife camera set up to capture images of endangered Amur tigers in Siberia recently snapped three photos of a golden eagle swooping down, attacking and capturing a deer. Researchers who later retrieved the photos found the carcass of the deer nearby.

Exhibit B: A recent YouTube video upload gives viewers the experience of being 6 inches tall and riding on the back of an eagle as it soars over the Mer de Glace glacier in the French Alps. It's a majestic video captured by a tiny camera mounted on the back of an eagle -- and gives "Fly Like an Eagle" a new relevance.

See a photo of the eagle catching a deer at ScienceDaily; then saddle up your own imaginary eagle and take wing with the new video.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: lynx kitten courtesy Colorado Division of Wildlife; lynx kitten courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Bernard Landgraf; black-footed ferrets by Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian's National Zoo; Frostpaw by Patrick Sullivan, Center for Biological Diversity; Sierra Nevada red fox courtesy USDA; fisher courtesy Flickr/Josh More; grotto sculpin by Brad Probst, Missouri Department of Conservation; gray wolf courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Chris Muiden; polar bear by Florian Schulz; loggerhead sea turtle courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Brian Gratwicke; golden eagle courtesy U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

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