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Center for Biological Diversity

No. 776, May 28, 2015

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"Endangered Species Mural Project" Launched, Embraced in Idaho

Caribou mural in Sandpoint, IdahoPortland-based artist Roger Peet is collaborating with the Center for Biological Diversity on an innovative new mural project to raise awareness about endangered species in regions across the United States. The first installment just went up: a massive painting of a mountain caribou on the wall of a prominent building in downtown Sandpoint, Idaho, which received this creative gift with pride and gratitude.

The mural -- cosponsored by the Selkirk Conservation Alliance -- was completed just after the city of Sandpoint passed a resolution supporting recovery of the endangered mountain caribou and calling for augmentation of the southern Selkirk herd, which lives near Sandpoint in the Selkirk Mountains and is the last herd found in the contiguous United States.

There may be a mural coming to a town near you. Additional planned projects include murals of the watercress darter in Birmingham, Ala.; Montana's Arctic grayling in Butte, Mont.; the Ozark hellbender in St. Louis, Mo.; Colorado River fish on the Navajo reservation in Arizona; the bull trout in Oakridge, Ore.; and the monarch butterfly in Minneapolis, Minn.

Learn more about the Center's Endangered Species Mural project.

After Santa Barbara Oil Spill, Video Reveals Devastating Toll of Pipelines

Santa Barbara oil spillAs cleanup crews struggled with the ocean oil spill near Santa Barbara, where a pipeline carrying oil from offshore drilling platforms leaked on May 19, the Center released a new analysis that revealed a troubling history of pipeline accidents in California. An independent study of federal records found that since 1986, more than 600 oil and gas pipeline leaks, spills and other incidents in the Golden State have caused at least $769 million in damages, 200 injuries and almost 50 deaths.

A new time-lapse video by the Center documents all "significant pipeline" incidents in California -- with their human and financial costs -- from 1986 to 2014. On average the state suffers 23 significant pipeline incidents a year, according to the data.

"The Santa Barbara spill is just the latest example of fossil fuel pipelines' toxic threat to people and wildlife in California," said Miyoko Sakashita, our oceans program director. "These dangerous pipelines highlight the broader risks of oil production in our ocean and on land. Drilling and fracking results in fouled beaches, dead wildlife and serious risks to human health and safety."

Watch our video now.

Save Predators With a Matched Gift Today

Famous Wolf OR-7 May Be Having More Pups

OR-7 wolf pupBiologists say the well-loved alpha male wolf OR-7 and his mate, of the Rogue pack, appear to be denning in high-elevation U.S. Forest Service land in Oregon. The pair had three pups last year and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists say they're not 100 percent sure the wolves are working on a second litter of pups, but signs -- like the wolves' highly localized activity -- certainly point to it.

"Since we suspect they're denning, we won't go in until after May or into June to confirm it," said state wildlife biologist Mark Vargas.

Since early May, biologists have been trying to get a new GPS collar fitted on OR-7 or another member of the pack; the GPS component of OR-7's old collar is dead and now sends only faint signals. The Rogue pack is one of nine Oregon wolf packs; Oregon had a total of 77 known wolves at the end of 2014, according to the state's wildlife department.

Read more in the Mail Tribune.

In-depth Environmental Study of Crude-by-rail Project Ordered in New York

Oil trainGood news regarding our work on oil trains in the Northeast: New York's Department of Environmental Conservation is now going to require an in-depth environmental study of a proposal to move tar sands oil by rail to Albany, N.Y., via the Adirondacks and Lake Champlain.

Global Companies LLC wants permission to import heavy crude from Canada so it can install an oil-heating facility at the Port of Albany that would allow it to move thick tar sands crude from rail cars to storage tanks and then to ships in the port. The Center and other environmental groups called on state and federal regulators to take a deep look at the impacts of this proposal before giving it the green light.

"Just since the beginning of 2015, there have been five major oil train derailments in the United States and Canada," said the Center's Mollie Matteson. "This underscores the tremendous risk posed by the massive increase in the amount of crude oil transported by trains in recent years."

Read more in the Albany Times Union.

Safeguards Sought for Bat, Crayfish Threatened by W.V. Coal Mine -- Take Action

Big Sandy crayfishThe Center is calling on West Virginia and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to protect two endangered species -- the northern long-eared bat and the Big Sandy crayfish -- from a new coal mine in West Virginia's McDowell County. The Big Creek surface mine, owned by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jim Justice, would destroy more than five miles of streams and 900 acres of hardwood forest.

The bats were protected under the Endangered Species Act in April following a 2010 petition by the Center. We also petitioned to protect the crayfish in 2010 and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to protect it last month.

"Protecting endangered species like the bat and the crawdad from this coal mine will also help protect the health and property of the people who live downstream from it," said the Center's Tierra Curry.

Read more in Charleston Daily Mail. Then take action to save these bats and crayfish.

Take Action

Center Joins Fight to Stop Grizzly Killing in Grand Teton National Park

Yellowstone grizzlyThe Center this week joined a lawsuit filed by conservation groups challenging federal agencies' approval to kill four grizzly bears in Grand Teton National Park over nine years (through 2022). The suit stems from a 2013 decision by the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service to allow the killing of grizzly bears during fall elk-hunting season in the park, when more hunter-bear conflicts are expected as grizzlies increasingly rely on meat in their fall diets.

Earthjustice filed the case on behalf of Sierra Club and Western Watersheds Project. We joined the challenge on Tuesday.

Grizzlies are a threatened species and, in authorizing the killing of grizzlies in Grand Teton, federal officials failed to look at the cumulative impacts it would have with other killings that the Service has already authorized throughout the Greater Yellowstone area -- which could mean the deaths of as many as 65 female grizzlies, more than three times as many as what scientists say is sustainable.

Read more about our work to save grizzly bears.

A Key Court Win in Fight Against Huge Nevada Water Grab

PronghornThe Nevada Supreme Court has dealt a significant defeat to the Southern Nevada Water Authority and its plan to take up to 27 billion gallons of groundwater a year from public lands in central Nevada. If allowed, the project would dry up or harm more than 5,500 acres of meadows, more than 200 springs, 33 miles of trout streams, and 130,600 acres of sagebrush habitat for sage grouse, mule deer, elk and pronghorn as water tables plunge by 200 feet.

The court rejected an appeal by the Water Authority and the state engineer to reject a December 2013 lower state court's order. The earlier decision required proof that the Water Authority's proposed groundwater mining and export operation will be sustainable and won't cause major harm to the environment and existing water-rights holders, such as tribes, ranchers, farmers and rural communities. As a member of the Great Basin Water Network, the Center was part of the suit and represented by Simeon Herskovits of Advocates for Community and Environment.

Read more in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Wild & Weird: Animal Behavior Unlocks Compassion In Prison

Caged monkeyMarc Bekoff, professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, teaches "Animal Behavior and Conservation" to male prisoners nearly every Friday at 8:30 a.m. at the Boulder County Jail. It's such a popular class that there aren't enough seats for all those who attend.

"Sometimes there's tension" before class starts, Bekoff told National Geographic in a recent interview, "but when I start talking about animals, it's like the air goes out of the balloon." Prisoners learn about current issues in conservation, watch animal videos and share their memories of experiences with pets as children. Bekoff notes that animals are "social catalysts" for compassion in humans, and prisoners are no exception.

"They are appalled at the possibility of removing wolves from the endangered species list, and at local killings of coyotes and black bears," said Bekoff. "Many are from rural areas, so they're sensitive to human encroachment on wild lands. They resent it when animals are cast out and labeled as the problem."

Read more about this intriguing class in National Geographic.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

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Photo credits: Endangered species mural by Roger Peet; Santa Barbara oil spill courtesy U.S. Coast Guard; Canada lynx courtesy Flickr/Eric Kilby; wolverine (c) Igor Shpilenok; gray wolf by W. Eugene Slowik Jr.; polar bear (c) Thomas Mangelson,; OR-7 wolf pup courtesy USFWS; oil train courtesy Flickr/Kurt Haubrich; Big Sandy crayfish by Guenter Schuster; brown bear (c) Robin Silver, Center for Biological Diversity; grizzly bear courtesy Flickr/Elizabeth Haslam; pronghorn by Tom Koerner, USFWS; caged monkey courtesy Flickr/Adrien Sifre.

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