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Center for Biological Diversity

No. 750, Nov. 26, 2014

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Wildlife Win After Feds, Under Pressure, Call Off Idaho Kill-fest

Gray wolfA major victory in Idaho: After a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies, the Bureau of Land Management has cancelled a permit allowing an anti-wolf group to conduct a predator-killing contest on more than 3 million acres of public land.

The permit would have allowed the decidedly misnamed group "Idaho for Wildlife" to conduct killing derbies targeting wolves, coyotes and other species every winter for the next five years on BLM land. The contest included prizes for killing the most predators. The Center got word of the cancelled permit this week, just as we were preparing to file a major brief in the case to stop this year's contest, which was set to begin Jan. 2.

"These sorts of ruthless kill-fests have no place in this century," said the Center's Amy Atwood. "We intend to pursue every available remedy to stop these horrible contests."

Read more in our press release.

Test Confirms Grand Canyon Wolf Came From the Rockies

Grand Canyon gray wolfDNA tests confirm that a wolf photographed at the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park is a female gray wolf from the northern Rocky Mountains.

The wolf has been seen repeatedly in Grand Canyon National Park and the adjoining Kaibab National Forest since early October. She wandered more than 450 miles through several states before arriving at the Grand Canyon. It's not that surprising: A report from the Center earlier this month identified more than 359,000 square miles of additional (but unoccupied) wolf habitat in the lower 48, including around the canyon.

This wolf is currently protected as an endangered species, but she'd lose that protection under an Obama administration proposal anticipated to be finalized this year.

"It's heartening this animal has been confirmed as a wolf," said the Center's Michael Robinson, "but I'm very worried that if wolves are taken off the endangered species list she will be killed, and wolf howls from the North Rim's pine forests will never again echo in the Grand Canyon."

Read more in the Arizona Republic.

Return of the Bighorns -- Watch Video

Bighorn sheepLast week 30 desert bighorn sheep were released into the Santa Catalina Mountains outside Tucson, Ariz., as part of a project to restore them to a place they once lived for thousands of years. The sheep will bolster a small herd released last year into the same mountains.

The Center has been part of the reintroduction project that's bringing bighorns back to the Catalinas for the first time since the 1990s.

"It takes years to plan and implement a project like this," the Center's Randy Serraglio told Reuters, "but when you look up on the ridge top in the dawn light and see the silhouette of a bighorn against the morning sky, it makes it all worthwhile."

Read more in the Reuters story and then check out this video of the release.

We're Giving Away 40K Condoms for the Holidays -- Want to Help?

Endangered Species CondomsBetween now and the New Year, more American babies will be conceived than at any other time of year. The Center is doing our part to help make sure all that holiday cheer doesn't contribute to unplanned pregnancies.

This holiday season we're giving away 40,000 free Endangered Species Condoms to get people thinking about the impact of human population growth on endangered species. We're looking for volunteers to help us get these out in every state across the country. We want them at office parties, community events, church and family gatherings, New Year's Eve celebrations ... anywhere and everywhere people will be.

The deadline to sign up to be a condom distributor is Dec. 4. Even if you've signed up in the past, you need to fill out this form to confirm your contact information, including current mailing address so we can send you a box of condoms if you're selected.

Become a Monthly Sustainer

Petition: Shorten, Lighten Trains Carrying Explosive Crude

Oil trainHave you seen them? These massively long trains with the black cars carrying oil all over the country?

In the past few years, there's been a drastic rise in trains carrying explosive crude oil -- and in the number of fiery derailments. This week the Center petitioned the Obama administration to protect the public and environment by limiting the length and weight of trains hauling oil and other hazardous materials.

Here's why: Federal regulators admit the length and weight of oil trains has contributed to derailments and spills in recent years, but they have yet to do anything about it. Our petition would limit oil trains to 30 cars. Most oil trains today carry about 100 cars -- well beyond what the industry has determined to be truly safe.

"The government has acknowledged the dangers of these massive trains -- now it needs to take action to protect people and wildlife from spills and derailments," said the Center's Jared Margolis.

Watch this WPTZ News story to learn more.

Give Thanks for Wildlife and Wildlands

Grand CanyonNo matter what Thanksgiving might involve or evoke for you, you have to admit one thing: We're all pretty lucky to live on such a beautiful planet with such amazing, unique creatures and landscapes. So it's worth taking a moment to be thankful for that.

The Center has started a social media campaign to help us -- specifically tying it in with another campaign we started this fall, #OurLands, which celebrates and honors public lands across the country.

This Thanksgiving we'd certainly be thankful if you would take part in our campaign and share a photo or meme -- or even just some words -- about what you're grateful for regarding public lands, animals and plants, or anything else about nature.

"Share the planet" with us on Facebook and Twitter using #Thankful and #OurLands -- and learn all about the Center's #OurLands campaign if you haven't already.

Suit Launched to Strengthen Protections for Western Sage Grouse

Gunnison sage grouseThe Center and allies have filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over its sudden decision to designate the Gunnison sage grouse as a "threatened" rather than "endangered" species. The lesser category lets the agency invoke broad exemptions to the bird's conservation to allow oil and gas development and other damaging activities.

The sage grouse's historic range included parts of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona, but the species now occurs only in 7 percent of that range, in a handful of small populations in southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah.

Before this disappointing reversal, the Fish and Wildlife Service had recognized the Gunnison sage grouse as an endangered species for 14 years. These birds need real protection, not vague promises from those with a direct stake in destroying their habitat.

Read more in the Houston Chronicle.

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Lawsuit Filed Against Doubled Fishing Limit for Rare Bigeye Tuna

Bigeye tunaThe Center and allies have sued the National Marine Fisheries Service over a new rule that nearly doubles the already too-high limits on fishing for imperiled bigeye tuna by Hawaii's longline fishery.

The quota for catching bigeye tuna was already set at 3,763 metric tons, a rule agreed upon internationally for these creatures -- which many people just think of as highly valued sushi fish, but which are also unique warm-blooded predators similar to endangered bluefin tuna. These fish swim in deep waters around Hawaii and across the Pacific Ocean -- where, from 1996 to 2008, the number of brutal longline hooks set in Hawaii fishing grounds increased fourfold. Pacific bigeye are also threatened by climate change, which could warm ocean waters enough to kill them by century's end.

Said the Center's Catherine Kilduff, "We need to be smart about protecting this valuable fish, or soon it'll be gone."

Read more in The Hill.

Join Us in Giving Back on Giving Tuesday

Green tree frogOn Tuesday, Dec. 2, the Center is joining thousands of other nonprofits and charities in a call to action to change the calendar and celebrate a day dedicated to giving this holiday season. It's easy to get caught up in the shopping craze -- so #GivingTuesday offers an easy way to give back.

The Center is fighting in the courts and organizing thousands of our supporters to speak up to protect wolves, polar bears, hellbenders, burrowing owls and more.

For #GivingTuesday, a longtime champion of wildlife has generously agreed to offer a two-to-one match for your donations to the Center. That means three times the lifesaving impact of every dollar you give for wildlife during this holiday season. Stand with us on #GivingTuesday by making a donation to help protect, preserve and recover our country's most vulnerable species.

Wild & Weird: What Happens When Whales Die? -- Watch Video

WhaleThe average lifespan for many whales is 50 to 75 years, but when a cetacean dies and its massive corpse sinks to the depths of the ocean, all that blood, blubber and bone takes on a kind of second life, supporting an entire ecosystem of decomposers -- from sleeper sharks and polychaete worms to sulpher-reducing bacteria -- for the next 50 to 75 years.

Using gorgeous and biologically accurate puppet theater, the short film Whale Fall offers a creative way of viewing this process. It's something that otherwise would be next to impossible to witness: the lasting beauty and significance of a great ocean beast's resting place.

Watch the video now.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

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Photo credits: Gray wolf courtesy Flickr/Chris Smith; Grand Canyon wolf courtesy Arizona Game and Fish; bighorn sheep courtesy Flickr/zenbikescience; Endangered Species Condoms courtesy Center for Biological Diversity; wolves by John Pitcher; oil train courtesy Flickr/Roy Luck; Grand Canyon courtesy Flickr/Anh Dinh; Gunnison sage grouse courtesy BLM; elephant courtesy Flickr/Matt Rudge; bigeye tuna courtesy NOAA; green tree frog courtesy Flickr/rainforest_harley; whale courtesy Flickr/Marcia Taylor.

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Center for Biological Diversity
P.O. Box 710
Tucson, AZ 85702-0710