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Lawsuit Aims to Keep Idaho Lynx Out of Deadly Traps

Canada lynxThe Center for Biological Diversity and allies filed a lawsuit on Monday to protect one of the rarest wild felines in the United States: the Canada lynx. The state of Idaho -- specifically Gov. Butch Otter, the director of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, and members of the state Fish and Game Commission -- have enacted animal-trapping rules loose enough that traps meant for other animals accidentally injure and kill lynx. And the state's population is down to just 100 individuals.

Lynx won Endangered Species Act protection in 2000 after a lawsuit by the Center and allies and have long been protected from targeted trapping. We helped win 26 million acres of proposed "critical habitat" just last year for this stealthy, plush-furred predator.

Back in 2008 a Center suit compelled Minnesota to restrict trapping throughout the state's lynx habitat; another lawsuit led to new trapping rules in Maine. Our latest filing calls for Idaho to develop a lynx conservation plan too.

"Idaho can't just ignore federal law and go on condoning the trapping of this rare and magnificent cat," said Amy Atwood, our endangered species legal director.

Read more in the Missoulian.

Feds Called On to Save Sea Turtles From Deadly Fishery

Loggerhead sea turtlesDuring El Niño conditions, when waters turn warmer than usual, endangered loggerhead sea turtles are attracted to California fishing areas. To protect these precious turtles from getting caught in nets, the National Marine Fisheries Service is legally required to close the "Pacific Loggerhead Conservation Area" off Southern California to drift gillnet fishing during June, July and August if El Niño conditions are predicted. This summer the agency declared a 70 percent likelihood of such conditions -- yet it's now July, and the agency still hasn't told fishing boats they need to stay out of the turtle zone.

To force the feds to obey their own laws on California fisheries, we and our allies sent an official letter Tuesday detailing the Fisheries Service's failure to protect these ancient animals and requesting the agency close the turtle area immediately. Loggerheads and other ocean life can easily get tangled in gillnets and drown.

"Gambling with the future of California's sea turtles is deeply irresponsible and unkind," said the Center's Catherine Kilduff. "And it strongly suggests smart fisheries management can't coexist with wasteful and destructive mile-long drift gillnets."

Read more in our press release.

Endangered Species Act Success: Wood Storks Recovering

Wood storkThree decades after wood storks were protected under the Endangered Species Act in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina -- the only states in which these unique birds breed -- the storks have officially taken one step closer to recovery. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last week changed their designation under the Act from "endangered" to the less critical "threatened" status -- a change that won't yet remove protection but does mean the birds are making progress toward recovery.

Wood storks were first protected in 1984 after they'd dramatically declined -- from about 20,000 pairs in the late 1930s to 5,000 pairs in the late 1970s -- largely due to the draining and development of their wetland habitat. People started to restore this habitat after Endangered Species Act protection, and the most recent three-year population average ranged from 7,086 pairs to 10,147. Wood storks aren't out of the woods yet: They're still struggling to recover in what was once one of the largest rookeries in South Florida. But their landmark new numbers are important.

"Restoring these magnificent birds has helped to preserve and rebuild vital wetland habitats throughout the Southeast, something that has benefited countless other species of wildlife and improved water quality for all of us," said the Center's Jaclyn Lopez, a Florida attorney.

Read more in The St. Augustine Record.

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Legal Action: Protect Ultra-rare Amphipod From D.C. Light Rail

Rock Creek ParkA minuscule endangered crustacean known as the Hay's spring amphipod lives in Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C., and Maryland -- and nowhere else on Earth. Unfortunately a proposed light-rail route called the Purple Line would cut right through its remaining habitat, so the Center and allies have filed a notice of intent to sue the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Federal Transit Administration for failing to mitigate -- or even seriously consider -- the impacts of the rail line on the future of the species.

We're not opposing this mass transit project, but we want to make sure it doesn't come with a price tag of extinction. We're asking the agencies to take a real look at how the rail line will affect these amphipods and consider an alternate route or mitigation.

"Amphipods are tiny -- less than half an inch in size -- but their presence or absence offers an important measure of water quality," said the Center's Brett Hartl. "Protecting these amphipods will have many benefits for people by helping protect Rock Creek Park and freshwater in the metro area."

Read more in The Washington Post.

How Many Times Should a Bullet Kill? -- Take Action

California condorAs early as next week, the Senate is once again expected to consider extreme legislation from the gun lobby that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from doing its job of safeguarding people and wildlife from unnecessary lead poisoning. The so-called "Sportsmen's Bill" proposes to strip the EPA's authority to regulate toxic lead in ammunition and fishing tackle under the Toxic Substances Control Act -- a bald attempt to create exceptions for using toxic ammunition and tackle where it shouldn't be.

This misguided bill ignores the mountain of scientific evidence showing that spent lead ammo and discarded fishing gear are the primary sources of lead poisoning for at least 130 wildlife species. It also shows callous disregard for the health of 10 million hunters, their families, and low-income beneficiaries of venison donations at risk of lead poisoning when they eat tainted meat. Meanwhile affordable, nontoxic alternatives to lead ammunition and fishing tackle are readily available.

More than 270 organizations in 40 states have called on the EPA to get the lead out, helping prevent the unnecessary deaths of bald eagles, California condors and millions of other wild birds each year.

Act now and help stop this toxic legislation by contacting your senators and urging them to vote no on the "Sportsmen's Bill."

Lawsuit Challenges Polluting Columbia River Oil Terminal

Columbia River The Center and partners on Wednesday filed a lawsuit asking a federal court to force a Columbia River crude-oil transport terminal to comply with a federal law meant to protect people and the environment from air pollution. The former ethanol production facility in Clatskanie, Ore., has been quietly transformed into a terminal for the transport of millions of gallons of highly explosive Bakken crude oil.

The operation moved 300 million gallons of Bakken crude to the Clatskanie terminal in 2013 and intends to move 10 times that amount in the near future. The offloading of trains to tanks, and then barges, at the terminal emits many air pollutants, including harmful volatile organic compounds.

The coalition's suit says Cascade Kelly Holdings and its owner, Global Partners LP, are circumventing Clean Air Act protections and avoiding strict federal permit requirements.

"Transporting volatile Bakken crude by rail and ship along the Columbia River is like playing a dangerous game of environmental roulette with our health and our environment," said the Center's Tanya Sanerib. "We want the terminal shut down until we can be sure that people, wildlife and habitat are safe."

Read more in the Wallowa County Chieftan.

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Wyoming Plan Sets Back Sage Grouse, Green-lights Oil and Gas

Greater sage grouseA newly revised land-management plan for 2.4 million acres of public land near Lander, Wyo., provides scant hope for the West's famous dancing bird, the greater sage grouse. The state-run plan continues to allow oil and gas drilling in the heart of sage grouse habitat and fails to protect all but 4 percent of their most critical mating and nesting areas.

The state plan, forged with the help of the Bureau of Land Management, was created in an industry-indulging attempt to avoid protecting the bird under the much stronger Endangered Species Act. It falls woefully short of scientists' recommendations -- providing no protections for the birds' winter habitat, for instance, and allowing Big Oil and Gas to strut to within just 0.6 miles of their "leks," or mating grounds.

"A few companies may squeeze some short-term profits out of this plan," said the Center's Randi Spivak, "but the long-term effect will be pushing these great prairie birds to the brink of extinction."

Read more in our press release.

Rare Flowers Threatened by Dirty Energy -- Take Action

Graham's beardtongueTwo tiny, gorgeous flowers in Utah and Colorado are in danger of extinction and need your help. Both the Graham's and White River beardtongues have the misfortune of growing only in the crosshairs of Big Oil and Gas.

After decades of delay and litigation, the Fish and Wildlife Service has finally proposed Endangered Species Act protection for these two flowers, which are threatened by energy development, livestock grazing, invasive species and climate change. But instead of finalizing that protection, the agency is considering bowing to industry pressure in favor of a voluntary conservation agreement developed by Utah and Colorado.

Voluntary plans just aren't going to cut it when oil and gas are involved. "If these two wildflowers are going to survive," said the Center's Lori Ann Burd, "they need the immediate protection of the Endangered Species Act, which is 99 percent effective at preventing extinction."

Act now and urge the Service to stand up to the energy industry for the sake of these beautiful wildflowers and their habitat.

Wild & Weird: Paleo-diets Were More Hippie Than He-Man

CavemanAre you, or is someone you love, on a trendy, meat-centric "Paleo-diet"? New evidence confirms what critics of these diets have been saying for a while: If you want to eat like a real hunter-gatherer, you can't just eat steak and bacon. In fact, it looks like Mom's dinner-table advice holds up even for modern adults trying to get back to their Neanderthal roots: Eat your veggies.

New evidence uncovered in 50,000-year-old scat suggests Neanderthals didn't dine on meat alone, as many have presumed, but munched many vegetables as well. Using microscopic analysis, scientists from MIT and the University of La Laguna in Tenerife, Spain, peered into five primeval poop samples and found biomarkers of heavy consumption of plant matter. The proof is in the pudding: Cavemen ate their greens.

Read more in The Huffington Post (and take the Center's eat-less-meat pledge for our Take Extinction Off Your Plate campaign, which promotes filling your belly with veggies as a way to help free up space and resources for wildlife).

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: Canada lynx courtesy Flickr/Eric Kilby; Canada lynx courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Keith Williams; loggerhead sea turtles courtesy Flickr/Jeroen Looyé; wood stork courtesy Flickr/Larry Goodwin; wolves by John Pitcher; Rock Creek Park courtesy Flickr/morganglines; California condor courtesy Flickr/primatewrangler; Columbia River courtesy Flickr/Thomas Shahan; brown bear (c) Robin Silver, Center for Biological Diversity; greater sage grouse courtesy Flickr/Tony Morris; Graham's beardtongue courtesy Wikimedia Commons/USFWS; caveman courtesy Flickr/imamon.

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