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Center for Biological Diversity

No. 738, Sept. 4, 2014

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Oregon Spotted Frogs Win Protection

Oregon spotted frogAfter more than two decades on the waiting list, one of the Northwest's rarest frogs is finally protected under the Endangered Species Act. As part of a landmark settlement with the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week gave Oregon spotted frogs federal protection. Despite being named for a single state, these frogs were once common from British Columbia to California; but in the past 50 years, they've disappeared from 90 percent of their former range, mostly due to destruction of their wetland habitats.

These speckly, short-legged frogs were first deemed in need of protection in 1991, but after they were put on a waiting list instead of protected, the Center petitioned for them in 2004 -- along with 224 other "candidates." Now, thanks to our 2011 agreement to speed protection decisions for 757 species around the country, 133 species have been protected, including the Oregon spotted frog.

Read more in The Seattle Times.

A Reprieve for Washington's Huckleberry Wolf Pack -- Thank You

Gray wolfWe breathed a sigh of relief this weekend as officials in Washington state finally called off the hunt for the Huckleberry wolf pack. The pack, hounded by helicopter snipers and trappers on the ground, faced the very real possibility of being destroyed within a matter of days.

Thanks to all who called and emailed the governor seeking an end to this kill plan -- the Huckleberry pack has been given a reprieve. Still, it's unclear how long it'll last. We're working right now to establish hard legal limits that govern when wolves can be killed. Without such restrictions, Washington's wolves will almost surely be caught in the crosshairs again.

Read more in our press release and consider giving to our Predator Defense Fund.

Historic Climate March in NYC -- Will You Be There?

Climate rallyThousands of people are making plans right now to attend the biggest demonstration in the history of the climate movement. We hope you'll join the Center, and allies for the People's Climate March in New York City on Sept. 21. Global leaders will be in New York to talk about the climate crisis, so this is a crucial moment to begin turning the tide of history for a future that's livable for people and wildlife.

If you're planning to be in New York, please join us before the march for a roundtable discussion about fracking and climate change at Fordham Law School. The panel will include the Center's Kassie Siegel and other key leaders in the anti-fracking movement and will be followed by a meetup for anti-fracking activists to assemble before the march.

If you haven't already, RSVP for the People's Climate March, then check out this new video about the event and learn more about the fracking roundtable.

Shell Announces Aim to Drill for Oil in Arctic Ocean in 2015

WalrusOnce again Royal Dutch Shell is taking aim at the oil and gas in Alaska's Arctic Ocean, the company recently announced. This time its plan is to put two drilling rigs in the Chukchi Sea, with hopes to extract more than 16 million gallons of oil a day.

Following years of successful opposition from the Center and allies, as well as repeated technical failures that impeded exploration, Shell did not try to drill in summer 2014. It still needs federal approval for the 2015 drilling -- so a coalition of environmental groups, including the Center, is prepping a legal challenge to any approval that fails to protect the Arctic's fragile environment and wildlife.

As the Center's Brendan Cummings said, "Drilling in the Arctic makes no more sense in 2015 than it did when it was first proposed."

Read more in The New York Times.

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Stop Plan to Let 195 Lynx Be Trapped in Maine -- Take Action

Canada lynxThe Fish and Wildlife Service is poised to approve a plan that would allow nearly 200 endangered Canada lynx to be caught in traps in Maine over the next 15 years. We need your help to stop this disastrous plan from moving ahead.

Trapping for coyotes, foxes, fishers, bobcats and other animals is perfectly legal under Maine law -- but harming lynx is not, because they're protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. For more than seven years the state of Maine has sought a permit that would allow trappers to incidentally "take" (hurt, harass or kill) lynx. The state wants a federal permit for 195 lynx to be trapped over 15 years (though the real number would likely be higher, since Maine's plan rests entirely on reporting by trappers themselves).

The federal agency appears set on giving Maine want it wants. We need you to speak up for these magnificent cats, so please -- take action today to oppose this permit.

Protection for Florida Plants Threatened by Climate Change, Walmart

Carter's small-flowered flaxThis week the Fish and Wildlife Service gave Endangered Species Act protection to two rare Florida plants found exclusively in the disappearing pine rocklands of Miami-Dade County. Their habitat has been fragmented and destroyed due to population growth -- and they're still threatened by climate change and a planned strip mall and Walmart.

Carter's small-flowered flax is a foot tall with slender leaves and yellow petals. Florida brickellbush is a white, perennial flower in the aster family that grows to more than 3 feet tall. Small and fragmented occurrences are all that remain of these two flowers.

Both flowers have been waiting for federal protection since 1985 and were federally protected this week as part of the Center's historic 757 agreement.

Read more in our press release.

Charismatic Clownfish One Step Closer to Safeguards

ClownfishGood news for the colorful swimmer featured in the children's movie Finding Nemo: In response to a Center petition and legal work, the federal government on Tuesday said the orange clownfish may warrant Endangered Species Act protection.

The Center petitioned to protect orange clownfish in 2012, and when the National Marine Fisheries Service didn't respond in time, we filed a notice of intent to sue. This week's decision will trigger an in-depth look at the status of the fish.

The situation is getting dire, because global warming hits coral-dependent fish with a double whammy: It's heating up the oceans, which causes mass bleaching events that can kill corals. And, as carbon dioxide increases in the atmosphere, more and more is absorbed by the sea, causing ocean acidification -- which stunts corals' growth. Orange clownfish spend nearly their entire life protected by anemones on coral reefs. Ocean acidification also directly harms clownfish by damaging their ability to hear and smell, making it difficult for young fish to find homes on the reef and avoid predators.

"Finding Nemo is getting harder as global warming and acidifying oceans destroy the coral reefs the clownfish calls home," said the Center's Shaye Wolf.

Read more in this Huffington Post op-ed by the Center's Miyo Sakashita.

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Remembering the Passengers a Century After Martha's Passing

Martha the passenger pigeonThe last of the passenger pigeons, Martha, died in captivity in the Cincinnati Zoo on Sept. 1, 1914. To remember her kind, the zoo renovated Martha's memorial and held a series of lectures. Across the Atlantic, a tower clock at the London Zoo was stopped by bird keepers on Monday around noon -- the hour at which she died.

Once among the world's most plentiful birds, passenger pigeons darkened the American skies in flocks that numbered in the millions before they were hunted to extinction around the turn of the last century.

At the Center we honored Martha by submitting our petition to save monarch butterflies -- another once-abundant, iconic and beloved species whose continued existence can no longer be taken for granted.

Watch a stunning simulation of the great flocks of passenger pigeons in flight and read more about Martha's centennial at National Public Radio.

In Memoriam: Charles Bowden, Southwest Storyteller on the Ground

Charles BowdenCharles Bowden proved that words can speak as loudly as action. He wrote countless essays, true tales, nonfiction books, and newspaper and magazine articles depicting and defending the Southwest -- its people, its landscapes, its species, its charisma. Though he wrote prolifically for popular publications (Harper's, Mother Jones, National Geographic, GQ) and won awards for his talent and drive, he never lost touch with his fascination with the grittier side of life or his hard-edged roots.

In fact, these fueled his passion to make the truth known about his Southwest desert world -- from human folly and miracles to environmental devastation and the grand lies and misconceptions of the border wars. He died on Sunday of natural causes at age 69.

Bowden was also a friend of the Center's work. As he once said in a Tucson Weekly interview: "The Center for Biological Diversity has saved more ground than Jesus. I often don't agree with them, but their record is better than mine. When I'm dead, and when everybody reading this is dead, the only thing that matters is ground."

Read the Tucson Weekly article and this New York Times editorial.

Wild & Weird: Space Sex Experiment Proves Fatal for Geckos

GeckoSad news from space: A group of geckos that spent the past month and a half aboard Russia's Foton-M4 satellite, circling our planet in zero g, were found dead upon their return home. Scientists, apparently, were intent upon gathering data on the effects of microgravity on lizard sexual behavior.

A representative of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Biomedical Problems recently told a Russian news source that it is "too early to talk about the geckos' cause of death," but another official close to the experiment reported that the animals froze. Roskosmos, Russia's version of NASA, says it will appoint an emergency commission to determine the cause of death.

Read more in The Guardian.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: Oregon spotted frog by Ryan Hawk, Woodland Park Zoo; gray wolf courtesy Flickr/Eric Frommer; climate rally courtesy Flickr/Josh Lopez,; walrus by Uri Golman; wolves by John Pitcher; Canada lynx courtesy Flickr/Keith Williams; Carter's small-flowered flax by Keith Bradley, USFWS; clownfish courtesy Flickr/k phia; brown bear (c) Robin Silver, Center for Biological Diversity; Martha the passenger pigeon; Charles Bowden courtesy Flickr/Sean Collins; gecko courtesy Flickr/frank wouters.

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