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Mount Charleston blue butterfly

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5,500 Acres Protected for Ultra-rare Butterfly

Mount Charleston blue butterflyOne of the country's -- indeed the world's -- rarest butterflies now has some key habitat protected. This week, following the Center for Biological Diversity's historic 757 agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated 5,561 acres outside Las Vegas as critical habitat for Nevada's Mount Charleston blue butterfly. Fewer than 100 of these dainty creatures remain in the wild; conservationists first petitioned for their protection in 2005.

Mount Charleston blue butterflies are less than an inch long -- males are an iridescent blue on the tops of their wings, while females are a more subdued brownish-gray -- and are primarily threatened by fire-suppression activities and recreational development. They won Endangered Species Act protection under our 757 agreement in 2013.

"Saving the Mount Charleston blue butterfly will preserve an essential piece of the natural world that makes life on Earth more beautiful and interesting for all of us," said the Center's Tierra Curry.

Read more in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Lawsuit Aims to Keep Loggerhead Turtles Out of Nets

Loggerhead sea turtlesThe Center and Turtle Island Restoration Network have gone to court to protect endangered sea turtles off the Southern California coast from a deadly drift gillnet fishery. To keep extinction at bay, in El Niño years this fishery must be closed in summer to protect loggerheads from drowning in mile-long nets intended to catch swordfish and thresher shark -- but that closure has not been implemented for 2014.

All signs show that this is an El Niño year, when warmer waters draw in more animals to feed along the coastline -- including Pacific loggerhead sea turtles looking for pelagic red crabs to eat. We're suing to implement the fishery closure this summer.

"El Niño's warm waters bring rarely seen sea life to Southern California -- tropical tunas, warm-water whales and endangered loggerhead sea turtles," said the Center's Catherine Kilduff. "A few short months of a small area closed to drift gillnet fishing saves sea turtles' lives during El Niño years. There's no time to lose in getting the government to do its duty and close this fishery."

Read more in our press release.

Emergency Help for Bats Delayed -- Take Action

Northern long-eared batDespite being caught in the grip of one of the world's worst population crashes in decades, northern long-eared bats have yet to receive a lifeline. Instead these bats are now mired in politics: The Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced it will delay, until April 2015, its decision on whether to protect the animals under the Endangered Species Act.

This foot-dragging could have dramatic consequences for northern long-eareds as the fungal disease called white-nose syndrome continues to devastate their populations in 25 states. Three years ago the Service recommended urgent protections. But since then the agency has backed off its plan after catching flak from members of Congress, as well as the timber and energy industries, concerned with keeping up business as usual.

So far more than 7 million bats have been killed by white-nose syndrome, with biologists documenting up to a 99 percent decline of this species in its core range. Act now and urge the Service to listen to the science rather than the politics and protect northern long-eared bats before it's too late.

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New Study: Lead Ammo, Fishing Tackle Poisons 120 Bird Species

LoonsLead poisoning from spent lead ammunition and abandoned fishing tackle injures or kills more than 120 bird species, according to a new scientific review by the U.S. Geological Survey. Birds are particularly sensitive to lead exposure; it hurts kidneys, bones, the central nervous system and blood. Effects include lethargy, anorexia, reproductive problems and death.

The findings also note a USGS analysis last year that found that about 76,000 tons of lead were used in U.S. production of lead ammo during a single year and more than 4,000 tons of lead fishing weights were sold.

The deadly toll that lead ammunition and fishing tackle exacts on wildlife is staggering. Lead is the primary cause of death among Arizona's California condors, for example, and one study of loon carcasses across six New England states found that 23 percent were caused by ingesting lead from fishing tackle or spent lead shot.

The Center has been fighting for years to get the EPA to take lead out of ammunition and fishing tackle (safer alternatives are widely available). The NRA has pushed back hard, using its political power to fight us at every turn. We'll keep you posted on how you can help.

Get more from Oregon State University.

$25 Billion Water Grab Will Hurt Fish, Birds -- Speak Out

Chinook salmonNow here's a terrible idea worth fighting: California is pushing a proposal to build two 35-mile tunnels to siphon water away from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to send to Southern California. The plan, promoted by powerful agribusinesses in Kern County, would devastate habitat for migratory birds and push several endangered species -- including chinook salmon, smelt and steelhead -- closer to extinction.

The Center filed a lawsuit against this plan last year, and now we have a chance to tell state and federal officials not to approve this $25 billion boondoggle and keep this water firmly in the public's hands. Whether you live in California or not, you can tell the federal government that you oppose this water grab. You can also join us in Sacramento for a rally against this plan on July 29.

Take a quick moment to submit a letter against this project -- the deadline is July 29 -- or RSVP for our rally in Sacramento.

Deadly Pesticide to Be Banned From Some Wildlife Refuges

Willow warblerThere's good news in the fight against super-powerful pesticides: The Fish and Wildlife Service has agreed to phase out neonicotinoids on wildlife refuges in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Hawaii. The decision comes in response from a petition by our friends at the Center for Food Safety. The Center for Biological Diversity joined a legal petition filed by the Center for Food Safety in February to ban neonicotinoids on all wildlife refuges in the United States.

These pesticides have been linked to die-offs in pollinators like bees. Adding to the concern: A new study in the Netherlands finds that populations of birds, including sparrows and warblers, are declining by 3.5 percent each year in areas with high concentrations of neonicotinoid use.

"The cascading impacts of these pesticides are poisoning the web of life," said the Center's Jonathan Evans. "It's time we learn from the mistakes in our past with these dangerous pesticides and stop recklessly approving toxics at the behest of chemical companies."

Read more in the Epoch Times.

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Wildlife-killing Agency Feeling the Heat in California

RaccoonWildlife Services -- the wildlife-killing arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture -- wiped out 2 million native animals over the past year, including bears, mountain lions, wolves and coyotes. It does its work with brutal instruments, including gunmen in airplanes, exploding poison capsules and body-crushing traps.

The Center filed a landmark petition last December to begin reforming this rogue program. But as that process takes its course, we're also taking more immediate action. Earlier this month the Center and partners urged California's Humboldt and Mendocino counties to void their contracts with Wildlife Services, which indiscriminately kills tens of thousands of native animals every year in California, from mountain lions to raccoons. (Last year Sonoma County opted to reconsider its contract with Wildlife Services; Marin County opted not to renew 14 years ago.)

A day after our letter, Humboldt County decided to delay consideration of its contract with Wildlife Services and re-examine the issue. We're hoping this county (and others around the country) will decide to sever ties with Wildlife Services soon.

Check out our press release and learn more about Wildlife Services.

Check Out the Center's 2013 Annual Report

Green salamanderWant to read about our many accomplishments last year? Check out our new annual report for 2013.

We won protection for 55 endangered animal and plant species; secured habitat protection on 750,000 acres of land and more than 700 miles of coast; and saw habitat protection proposed for almost 30 million acres for lynx, yellow-legged frogs, Yosemite toads and Gunnison sage grouse. On the climate front, we waged key battles on fracking, scoring a statewide legal win that temporarily halted oil and gas leasing on California public lands, and meanwhile helped lead the fight against Keystone XL.

We saved precious groundwater by blocking a massive water grab in Nevada and scoring wins in court to keep key California water supplies public; got the EPA to commit to studying water-quality standards to protect species from ocean acidification; and pushed the agency to designate the first-ever potential Superfund cleanup site for ocean plastics pollution, near Hawaii.

None of this could've happened without the help of our supporters -- thank you.

Read our 2013 annual report now.

Wild & Weird: Climate Denial From Mars -- Watch Video

MarsClimate deniers are creative types. They have to be.

Earlier in July, during a committee hearing in the Kentucky state Senate, Republican Brandon Smith argued -- in reference to the EPA's new requirement that power plants cut their carbon emissions by 30 percent in the next 16 years, which he apparently mislikes -- that Mars and Earth share "exactly" the same temperature.

Seeing as there are no coal mines or factories on Mars, he reasoned, climate change on Earth must be caused by something other than CO2 emissions. "Nobody will dispute that," he said.

OK, so the climates on the two planets are a bit different, the average temperature on Earth being about 57 degrees Fahrenheit while the average temperature of Mars hovers around negative 81. But let's not quibble -- it's so nice to see creativity in a lawmaker.

Watch our video and read more about the climate of denial at the National Journal.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: Mount Charleston blue butterfly courtesy Flickr/Andrew; Mount Charleston blue butterfly by Corey Kallstrom, USFWS; loggerhead sea turtles courtesy Flickr/Jeroen Looyé; northern long-eared bat courtesy Flickr/USFWS; wolves by John Pitcher; loons by Gary J. Wege, USFWS; chinook salmon courtesy Flickr/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; willow warbler courtesy Flickr/Ron Knight; elephant courtesy Flickr/Matt Rudge; raccoon courtesy Flickr/Liz; green salamander courtesy Flickr/Brian Gratwicke; Mars background image courtesy NASA.

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Center for Biological Diversity

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