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In Face of Legal Challenge, Idaho Suspends Wolf Killing

Gray wolfBig news out of Idaho: The state's Department of Fish and Game, facing a legal challenge by conservation groups including the Center for Biological Diversity, has called off plans to kill more wolves this winter in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.

A hunter-trapper hired by the department killed nine wolves in the Frank Church last winter, and state officials in February announced plans to kill 60 percent of the wolves in the Middle Fork section of the wilderness in the coming years. The Center and allies filed a lawsuit against the wolf-killing plan, and the first hearing was scheduled for next month. Idaho officials now say they're suspending the plan until at least Nov. 1, 2015.

We're happy to see Idaho's wolves get a much-needed reprieve from the state's ill-conceived killing plan -- at least for a year.

Read more in The Missoulian.

Lawsuit Seeks to Save Rare Okinawa Dugongs From U.S. Airstrip

DugongThe Center this morning joined American and Japanese conservation groups in a lawsuit urging a federal court to halt construction of a U.S. military airstrip in Okinawa, Japan, that would pave over some of the last remaining habitat of Okinawa dugongs, relatives of manatees. The Center has been fighting for years to protect dugongs from this controversial military base expansion in Henoko Bay. Preliminary construction on the base began this year.

Dugongs -- underwater mammals that look much like their manatee kin -- are ancient cultural icons for the Okinawan people, even celebrated as "sirens" that bring friendly warnings of tsunamis. It was estimated in 1997 that there may have been as few as 50 Okinawa dugongs left; more recent surveys have only been able to conclude that at least three remain.

"These gentle animals are adored by both locals and tourists," said Center cofounder Peter Galvin. "Paving over some of the last places they survive will not only likely be a death sentence for them, it will be a deep cultural loss for the Okinawan people."

Read more in our press release.

Nationwide Agreement Helps Protect Endangered Wildlife From Pesticides

California red-legged frogThe Center on Monday reached an important agreement that will help protect endangered species across the country from five common pesticides. The deal, which follows lawsuits by the Center, requires the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to analyze the impacts of carbaryl, chlorpyrifos, diazinon, malathion and methomyl -- all of which have been found to be toxic to wildlife and may pose a health risk to people.

Years ago the Center sued the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service about how these pesticides affect endangered California red-legged frogs. We won an injunction in 2006 imposing restrictions on the chemicals' use until the consultation was completed. We sued again last year, with those consultations still incomplete. This week's settlement now requires the agency to look at not only red-legged frogs but all endangered species across the country.

"We don't think these chemicals should even be in use, but at the very least, measures to protect endangered wildlife should have been put in place when these chemicals were first approved," said the Center's Collette Adkins Giese.

Get more from National Public Radio.

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Petition to New York: Ban Super-toxic Rat Poisons That Kill Wildlife

Red-tailed hawkFor too long super-toxic rat poisons in New York have indiscriminately poisoned children, pets and more than 30 wildlife species, including great horned owls, golden eagles and foxes. They even killed the mate of Pale Male, the famous red-tailed hawk living in New York City's Central Park.

So on Monday the Center and allies petitioned the state of New York to finally ban these rodenticides, called second-generation anticoagulants, which often move through the food web as other animals eat poisoned rodents. These poisons have been found in more than 70 percent of wildlife tested. Rat poisons sicken more than 160 pet cats and dogs annually, and each year as many as 10,000 children are accidentally exposed to rat poison in their homes.

"There's no reason to leave the worst of the worst poisons on the market," said the Center's Jonathan Evans. "There are safe, cost-effective options on the shelves today that don't indiscriminately kill wildlife and poison families."

Read more in The New York Times.

Southwest Fish Wins Federal Protection

Zuni bluehead suckerThe imperiled Zuni bluehead sucker, native only to the Little Colorado rivershed in New Mexico and Arizona, has finally earned Endangered Species Act protection due to the Center's historic 757 species agreement.

The sucker -- an 8-inch-long, torpedo-shaped fish with a bluish head and black-mottled sides -- is declining due to water withdrawal from its native streams, logging, grazing, development, climate-change-induced drought and other threats. It was first identified for federal protection back in 1985, and the Center petitioned to protect the fish in 2004; but it languished without safeguards until last week. In 2013 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also proposed to protect 293 stream miles of "critical habitat" for the fish, which we expect to be finalized this year.

"This is great news not only for this special arid-lands fish but for the health of the Little Colorado River," said the Center's Michael Robinson. "Protecting the Zuni bluehead sucker will help to protect the river's headwaters from the water withdrawals that played a major role in pushing this fish to the brink of extinction, as well as guard against new threats such as development."

Read more in The Arizona Republic.

Sea Turtles Saved From Deadly Fishery Across 25,000 Square Miles

Loggerhead sea turtleIn response to a lawsuit by the Center and allies filed July 10, the National Marine Fisheries Service barred California's swordfish drift gillnet fishery from operating on 25,000-plus square miles of the Pacific from July 25 through Aug. 31. The move will prevent endangered loggerhead sea turtles from becoming entangled and drowning in the fishery's mortal snares.

The Center and other groups sued the Fisheries Service because it hadn't implemented the closure for that swath of ocean, the "Pacific Loggerhead Conservation Area," even though it's required to do so in El Niño climate conditions, when warm weather draws the turtles into the area.

Loggerheads enter the Conservation Area in search of pelagic red crabs to eat, and drowning in gillnets is one of the primary threats to their survival. The nets form vast underwater walls that capture dolphins, seals, sea lions and even whales, in addition to loggerheads.

Read more in the Daily Breeze.

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Petition Targets Widely Used Plastic That Endangers Wildlife

Hawaiian monk sealPolyvinyl chloride is one of the world's most ubiquitous plastics, used in water pipes, credit cards, window blinds and thousands of other products. It also poses serious health risks to people and animals, especially marine animals. That's why the Center just petitioned the EPA to classify PVC as a hazardous waste, which would require better regulations for disposal and, ultimately, a reduction in the amount of plastic trash and toxic chemicals polluting human communities and oceans nationwide.

As much as 80 percent of ocean litter is lightweight and durable plastic trash, which kills or injures thousands of seabirds, turtles and marine mammals each year. PVC, which contains known carcinogens, is cause for special concern because it leaches significant concentrations of toxic chemicals as it deteriorates with age.

"PVC plastic is one of the most hazardous consumer products ever created, but once we're through with it, it can be thrown away just like food scraps or grass clippings," said Emily Jeffers, a Center attorney. "It's time for the EPA to do its job and prevent plastic trash from poisoning our environment."

Check out our press release.

Sustainable Farming in the Wilderness? Not by a Long Shot

Amazon RainforestRocked by revelations of massive forest clearcutting, Big Ag companies say they can feed the world's exploding population without destroying more ecosystems to create new farmland. U.S. conglomerates claim that new versions of factory farming are environmentally sustainable and that they are actually saving the Amazon rainforest.

But a great investigative story just published by Rolling Stone exposes how a shocking 1.6 square miles a day of Paraguay's Gran Chaco forest is being destroyed by Big Ag to grow soybeans for the global market. It's a horrendous domino effect pushing global agriculture farther and farther into the forest frontier.

Check out Rolling Stone's piece called "Green Going Gone: The Tragic Deforestation of the Chaco."

Aging Arctic Canoe Expedition Seeks Patrons

Paradise Lost Canoe ExpeditionIn 1991 David Scott and former Center for Biological Diversity board member Scott Power built a rustic log cabin near the Arctic Circle, where they lived off the land and ice for 10 months. The cabin stood for many years as a sanctuary for intrepid, and sometimes desperate, adventurers.

The cabin burned down recently in a massive wildfire. Now in their 40s and considerably less, er, pliable, David and Scott plan to canoe 150 miles roundtrip to the cabin site to rebuild it for use by new generations of wilderness and solace seekers.

To check out their plan and maybe become a sponsor, head to their website. Donations beyond their minimalist goal will go to help the Center's polar bear protection work.

Wild & Weird: A Bug Eruption So Vast It Showed Up on Radar -- Watch Video

Mayfly screenshotLast Sunday, at about 8:45 p.m. Central, a swarm of mayflies erupted from subterranean burrows in the river-bottom mud of the Mississippi near La Crosse, Wis. It's an event that typically occurs in three or four hatches during the summer along the upper Mississippi River. But this year all the hatches seem to have erupted simultaneously. The result: a swarm so massive it was picked up on radar by the National Weather Service.

Mayflies spend the first years of their lives in the larval stage, eating decaying organic matter in the muck. When conditions are right, they erupt en masse through the river's surface into the evening sky, find a mate, lay eggs and abruptly perish.

And while it must be disgusting to be caught in a bug storm, mayfly abundance is an indicator of the biological health of the Mississippi. The flies' eruptions create an all-you-can-eat buffet for frogs, birds, spiders and other insects.

Watch our new video -- replete with radar imagery of the eruption and photos of massive bug piles on cars, stores, homes and roads -- and read more in USA Today.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: gray wolf courtesy Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife; gray wolf courtesy Flickr/Wally Slowik Jr.; dugong courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Julien Willem; California red-legged frog by Chris Brown, USGS; wolves by John Pitcher; red-tailed hawk by Keenan Adams, USFWS; Zuni bluehead sucker courtesy New Mexico Department of Fish and Game; loggerhead sea turtle courtesy USFWS; elephant courtesy Flickr/Matt Rudge; Hawaiian monk seal with plastic on snout by Barbara Billand, NOAA; Amazon Rainforest courtesy Flickr/Eric Pheterson; Paradise Lost Canoe Expedition courtesy indegogo campaign; mayfly screenshot courtesy Center for Biological Diversity.

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