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Center for Biological Diversity

No. 775, May 21, 2015

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Land Purchase Protects Key Habitat for Endangered Mississippi Frog

Dusky gopher frogMore than 170 acres of crucial habitat for highly endangered dusky gopher frogs will be protected from development under a land purchase just announced by the Center for Biological Diversity, as well as our local allies and the developer of a planned community called "Tradition" in Harrison County, Miss. The purchase of the land, to be owned by a trust, will help ensure the survival of these very rare frogs; the deal is the result of years of effort by the stakeholders.

"Dusky gopher frogs desperately needed this good news to survive," said the Center's Collette Adkins. "I'm glad the developer and the conservation community worked together to protect this area and give us real hope for the survival of this frog."

Once prevalent throughout Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, the dusky gopher frog may now be limited to fewer than 100 adults. In response to a Center lawsuit, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service protected it in 2001. When picked up, this frogs covers its eyes with its forefeet -- possibly to protect its face until predators can get a taste of its bitter skin secretions and release it.

Read more in The Times-Picayune.

Endangered Gray Wolf Apparently Shot in Colorado

Gray wolfOn April 29, according to a Facebook photo post, a male wolf-like animal was shot dead in northern Colorado by someone claiming to have mistaken it for a coyote. Authorities have confirmed they're doing DNA testing to determine whether the victim was an endangered gray wolf from Wyoming.

If so, this would be the fourth gray wolf, since wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in 1995, known to have reached Colorado. Two of these wolves were killed, one on Interstate 70 in 2004 and another via poisoning in 2009; a third was videotaped in North Park in 2007. The last original wolf in the state was trapped and killed by the Fish and Wildlife Service in southern Colorado in 1945, as capstone to a livestock-industry-driven extermination program.

"I'm afraid we'll find out that another intrepid traveling wolf has been killed," said the Center's Amaroq Weiss. "Western Colorado has plenty of room to welcome wolves back -- but once again recovery of these beautiful animals is being threatened by gunfire."

Read more in The Denver Post.

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Santa Barbara Oil Spill: Another Reminder of the Price of Fossil Fuels

Oil platform near Santa Barbara, CaliforniaIt's happened again. On Tuesday as much as 105,000 gallons of oil spilled near Santa Barbara, Calif., sending an estimated 21,000 gallons into the Pacific Ocean, creating an oil slick about 9 miles long in the Pacific Ocean and fouling major stretches of the beach. The crude leaked from a broken pipe and flowed into the Pacific via a culvert.

The spill happened in the same area as an oil spill in 1969 that was the country's largest until the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska in 1989. Wildlife rescue teams and cleanup crews have spent the past two days responding to the spill.

"Time and again we've seen oil foul our coasts, whether it's Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico or Santa Barbara," said the Center's Miyoko Sakashita. "Oil spills are part of the ugly cost of fossil fuel development, made even worse by aging domestic infrastructure. It doesn't have to be this way and it shouldn't. We need to start aggressively moving away from fuel sources that are devastating for wildlife, people and our climate. If we don't, we risk continuing to see spills like we just saw in Santa Barbara."

Read more in The Christian Science Monitor.

Navy Prepares to Bomb Pacific Paradise -- Take Action

Northern Mariana islandIt's hard to imagine any place that deserves to be destroyed -- that contains no life or beauty worth saving. But the Pacific's Northern Mariana Islands are a particularly bad choice for destruction. If the U.S. Navy bombs all of Pagan Island and more of Tinian Island, as it plans for practice and testing, this stunning place will be toast.

For generations Pagan Island has supported an island culture -- people who were forced from their homes after a volcano eruption in 1981 and now seek to return. The area's remoteness, which makes it a target for the Navy, also means it's unique and irreplaceable. Please -- help the Center stop it from being bombed.

The U.S. military aims to expand its activities in these Pacific islands with war games that include live-fire ranges, air-to-land assaults and bombing. The intense training exercises will create hazardous areas, degrade the tropical environment, and limit public access while increasing noise and pollution. They'll also destroy endangered corals and sea turtle habitat, deafen marine mammals, and drive a very rare bird, the Tinian monarch, even closer to extinction.

Act now to urge the Navy not to bomb Pagan and Tinian islands and to seriously reconsider its plans in the Pacific.

New Federal Rules Will Make It Harder for Citizens to Save Endangered Species

Bald eagleThe Obama administration proposed burdensome, overly bureaucratic new rules Monday that would place obstacles in the path of citizens filing petitions to protect species as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act -- and would ultimately make it harder for rare and vanishing species to get the lifesaving protections they need.

Specifically, the proposed regulations bar petitions for more than one species at a time and force petitioners to provide advance notice of the petition to all the states in the species' range -- among other new requirements. The rules would discourage citizens from filing petitions, extend process times once their petitions are filed, and invite litigation challenging petition determinations from states that are hostile to the protection of wildlife.

"These regulations are a lousy solution to a problem that doesn't exist," said Noah Greenwald, the Center's endangered species director. "All these regulations would do is cut the public out of endangered species management and burden an already overburdened process for species to avoid extinction."

Get more from Reuters.

White House Report Lacks Key Actions to Save Bees, Pollinators

BumblebeeFirst the good news: The White House Pollinators Health Task Force knows that America's bees, butterflies and other pollinators are in trouble. The task force issued a first-of-its-kind report on Tuesday that provided an in-depth look at the importance of pollinators and many of the threats they face.

But here's the problem: While the task force recommended some decent solutions -- including restoration of 7 million acres of land to help pollinators -- it didn't go nearly far enough, especially in regard to some of the deadliest pesticides. For instance, countless studies have already found that neonicotinoids are a leading cause of pollinator declines, especially when they're used to treat seeds of crops. But instead of banning these devastating pesticides, the task force is calling for more analysis and more studies.

"Our bees can't wait for more reports and evaluations," said Lori Ann Burd, director of our Environmental Health program. "We need real action now -- and that should start with banning neonicotinoids."

Read more in our press release.

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Another Endangered Species Act Success: Louisiana Black Bears

Black bearLouisiana black bears are coming off the endangered species list, the Fish and Wildlife Service announced Wednesday, because they've met their recovery goals and have a population that's viable over the next 100 years.

One of 16 unique subspecies of American black bears, Louisiana black bears historically ranged throughout Louisiana and into Texas, Mississippi and Arkansas; they were protected under the Endangered Species Act in 1992 because of hunting and habitat destruction and fragmentation.

"The recovery of the Louisiana black bear and hundreds of other species shows that the Endangered Species Act does work," said the Center's Jaclyn Lopez.

Read more in our press release.

Tell Top Obama Officials to Meet With Tribes Over Grizzly Protection -- Take Action

Grizzly bearTribal leaders in the northern Rockies this week called on Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe to delay any plans to remove federal protections for Yellowstone's grizzlies and instead attend a summit this summer, both to hear the tribes' opposition to removal of protection from grizzly bears and to show respect for the tribes' nations and cultures.

The request follows a Northern Cheyenne tribal representative being forcibly stopped from speaking by the state-federal grizzly bear committee in Wyoming when he attempted to announce the tribe's opposition to stripping protection from the species.

In a letter to Jewell and Ashe, the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council said the Fish and Wildlife Service has "continued to ignore" some 35 tribal resolutions and declarations raising concerns about taking away Endangered Species Act protection from grizzlies that live in and around Yellowstone National Park.

Not only is an apology warranted after the incident in Wyoming, but it's time for the Interior Department to do what's right. Take action to tell Ashe and Jewell to put delisting plans on hold for Yellowstone's grizzlies and attend the tribal summit this summer.

100 California Officials Request Fracking Halt

California Gov. Jerry BrownMore than 100 mayors, city council members and other public officials from dozens of California communities are calling on Gov. Jerry Brown to halt fracking throughout the state to protect its precious water supply from contamination during a devastating drought.

In a letter delivered at a press conference Friday at the Democratic State Convention, officials warned Gov. Brown that fracking and other perilous practices for oil extraction must be halted due to "environmental threats, particularly local air and water pollution and climate disruption."

The letter followed an admission by state regulators that they'd allowed Big Oil to dump billions of gallons of oil waste into protected underground water supplies across the state, from Monterey to Kern and Los Angeles counties. The officials requested a fracking moratorium pending thorough study of the oil industry's air and water pollution -- not to mention climate disruption, which contributes to drought.

Read more in the Sierra Sun Times.

Howling for Wolves: More Than 10,000 Tweets in 72 Hours -- Thank You

#LeadThePackLast week, on Endangered Species Day, the Center rallied thousands of our online supporters and allies to create a social media storm calling on President Obama to #LeadThePack and protect America's gray wolves.

More than 880 supporters joined our #LeadThePack Thunderclap and Tweetstorm, sending Obama and the White House a resounding message that Americans want to keep wolves protected. All day long on Friday, May 15 and throughout the weekend, our supporters sent thousands of tweets, Facebook messages and Tumblr posts to the administration's social media accounts. Our tweets, calling on Obama to #LeadThePack and protect wolves, generated more than 10,000 retweets.

Thank you to everyone who participated. We need to keep the pressure on: This week the president announced his new personal Twitter account. Act now by signing our petition and sending the three tweets we've composed to let Obama know you stand with wolves.

Wild & Weird: First Known Warm-blooded Deep-sea Fish Revealed

MoonfishOcean depths are frigid places, and the cold-blooded communities of fish and squid that lurk there tend to move slowly, with an eye to conserving energy. The cold causes brains and muscles to go sluggish; swordfish and other fast movers may hunt in the deep, but then they must return to the surface to warm their bodies.

Scientists had always assumed that was the case for the predatory moonfish as well -- until a team of NOAA researchers made the amazing discovery that it's actually a warm-blooded fish, the first ever discovered in the deep sea. Because it's able to keep its eyes, muscles and brain warmer than the ocean temperature, the moonfish has a competitive advantage, allowing it to chase down agile squid and migrate great distances without surfacing.

Read more at IFL Science.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

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Photo credits: Dusky gopher frog courtesy U.S. Army; gray wolf courtesy Flickr/Eric Kilby; Canada lynx courtesy Flickr/Eric Kilby; wolverine (c) Igor Shpilenok; gray wolf by W. Eugene Slowik Jr.; polar bear by Thomas Mangelson; oil platform near Santa Barbara courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Antandrus; Northern Mariana island courtesy Flickr/ctsnow; bald eagle (c) Robin Silver, Center for Biological Diversity; bumblebee courtesy Flickr/William Warby; brown bear (c) Robin Silver, Center for Biological Diversity; Louisiana black bear courtesy USDA; Yellowstone grizzly bear courtesy USFWS; Gov. Jerry Brown courtesy Flickr/Phil Konstantin; Barack Obama image courtesy Center for Biological Diversity; moonfish courtesy Flickr/NOAA.

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