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Center for Biological Diversity

No. 777, June 4, 2015

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Obama Administration Takes Aim at Endangered Species Act

President ObamaWith some of our most imperiled plants and animals facing escalating threats from a growing human footprint, climate change and pollution, the Endangered Species Act -- the law that has prevented the extinction of 99 percent of species it protects -- is under unprecedented attack ... from the Obama administration.

The administration has quietly passed a series of regulatory changes that limit protections for species' critical habitat, make it harder for species to gain protection as threatened or endangered, and sharply curtail citizen participation in implementation of the law.

One of the most damaging of these new regulations would deny protection to species that are at risk of extinction, or already extinct across significant portions of their range, so long as they are secure somewhere. Had this rule been in place when the Act was passed, bald eagles, gray wolves and grizzly bears would never have been protected simply because they had healthy populations in Alaska and Canada.

Other regulations championed by the administration make it easier to destroy species' protected "critical habitat" and create bureaucratic hurdles that will cripple the ability of citizens to petition to protect imperiled species, a change that will greatly reduce the number of species protected.

"It's extremely disheartening to see the Obama administration weakening the Endangered Species Act," said Noah Greenwald, the Center for Biological Diversity's endangered species program director. "Our endangered wildlife -- from gray wolves to Big Sandy crayfish -- need a strong Endangered Species Act more than ever. These wrongheaded regulations will only embolden opponents of protecting endangered species in industry and Congress."

Take action now to stop this stealth attack on the Act and check out our new factsheet.

Center Petitions to Protect Rare Marten in California

MartenTwo months after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declined to protect the critically imperiled Humboldt marten under the federal Endangered Species Act, the Center -- which will challenge that decision -- is pushing for the marten to be protected under the California Endangered Species Act.

Last week we joined with the Environmental Protection Information Center to petition the California Fish and Game Commission to protect the marten, which likely numbers fewer than 100 in the state.

The cat-sized carnivore lives in old-growth forests in Northern California and southern Oregon, most of which have already been destroyed by logging. Once thought extinct, the Humboldt marten was rediscovered on the Six Rivers National Forest in 1996. While researchers have continued to detect martens in California, they also determined that martens haven't rebounded from dramatic declines between 2001 and 2008.

"The population size of the Humboldt marten is disturbingly low," said the Center's Justin Augustine. "We hope the commission works quickly to protect this species and help rebuild a viable marten population."

Read more in our press release.

Help Save Mexican Gray Wolves

Help Wildlife in Your Backyard -- Distribute Endangered Species Condoms

Endangered Species CondomsWith more than 7 billion people on Earth and another 227,000 of us added every day, wildlife have never had it so hard simply surviving. It's no coincidence: As human numbers go up, our animal neighbors are disappearing at 1,000 to 10,000 times the background rate.

We can still turn the tide, but we need to get people talking about the connection between human population growth and wildlife extinction. That's where you -- and the Center's new set of innovative, award-winning Endangered Species Condoms -- come in.

July 11 is World Population Day, and this year the Center is highlighting the pressure human population growth puts on wildlife by sending free Endangered Species Condoms to the states where the animals featured on our condom packages are most endangered. Saving wildlife can start in your own backyard by talking to your neighbors and community.

Help start the conversation -- sign up to distribute Endangered Species Condoms in your state.

Help Save the Florida Panther -- Watch Video, Take Action

Florida pantherA reserved, stealthy predator of enormous physical grace and power, the Florida panther is one of the most majestic large felines in the United States, and Florida's official state animal.

But this wild cat needs our help badly. Its population has plummeted to fewer than 180 individuals limited to less than 5 percent of their original range. Every year undeveloped land in South Florida grows scarcer and more fragmented, while roads and cars increase. Last year was one of the deadliest ever for the Florida panther: Twenty-four died due to vehicle collisions alone. Other threats include pollution, climate change and even poaching. The Center has been defending this panther for years, including petitioning in 2009 for 3 million acres of federally protected habitat.

And there is still hope. Science suggests that these panthers, if reintroduced to their historic hunting grounds in north Florida, could survive and even thrive once again. There once was strong support for this reintroduction, but decades of inaction combined with mounting development pressures mean we don't have much longer to act. Now is the time to show wildlife managers you support this magnificent mammal and plans for its return to its north Florida habitat.

Watch and share this video (made for us by More Animal Than Human) and act now to help us bring the panther home.

Biodiversity Briefing: Federal Killing Program Exposed

FoxThe Center's latest quarterly "Biodiversity Briefing" phone call, led by Executive Director Kierán Suckling, focused on what the Center's doing to stop Wildlife Services -- a little-known, badly misnamed agency within the U.S Department of Agriculture -- from slaughtering millions of animals a year using traps, poison and other inhumane methods.

This agency has been killing as many as 3 million native animals every year (it admits to killing 2.7 million last year) -- including coyotes, bears, beavers, wolves, otters, foxes and birds -- without any oversight or accountability. The agency contributed to the decline of gray wolves, Mexican wolves, black-footed ferrets, black-tailed prairie dogs and other imperiled species during the first half of the 1900s, and it continues to impede their recovery today.

As Kierán said, "The Center has developed a campaign going after Wildlife Services in as many ways as we can ... in the courts, filing legal petitions, going after them in the media, getting congressional investigations going, getting bills to reform the agency. Working on every level we can to stop the killing." In 2013 we filed a petition demanding regulations -- like those framing the actions of most federal agencies -- be put in place to guide Wildlife Services' actions and create greater transparency.

Learn more about Wildlife Services and listen to a recording of Kierán's briefing. These personal phone briefings, including Q&A sessions, are open to all members of the Center's Leadership Circle and Owls Club. For information on how to join and be invited to participate live on the calls, email Senior Donor Relations Associate Julie Ragland or call her at (520) 623-5252 x 304.

Take Action

200,000 Speak Out Against Grand Canyon Mega-development -- Thank You

Havasupai FallsMore than 200,000 people flooded the U.S. Forest Service with comments over the last month calling for the agency to reject a plan for roads and infrastructure that would enable construction of a mega-development on the Grand Canyon's doorstep.

The proposed roads, sewers and other utilities would pave the way for the transformation of the 580-resident community of Tusayan, Ariz., from a quiet tourist town into a sprawling complex of high-end homes, retail stores and restaurants only a mile from the Grand Canyon National Park boundary. The development would threaten local groundwater supplies that feed the canyon's creeks and springs, as well as some of the park's most important wildlife, including the Arizona wetsalts tiger beetle and Macdougal's yellowtops (a flower in the aster family) -- both of which were included in a Center petition for Endangered Species Act protection last month.

Comments and signatures included more than 52,000 from Center supporters alone.

"The local, national and international communities have spoken, and the message is clear -- this development doesn't belong next to Grand Canyon," said Center cofounder Robin Silver. "Now it's up to the Forest Service to act in the public interest and reject this proposal."

Read more about the 200,000 comments and the Center's petition for the beetle and flower.

New Film: The Yes Men Are Revolting

The Yes Men Are RevoltingFor the last 20 years, notorious activists "the Yes Men" have staged outrageous and hilarious hoaxes to draw international attention to corporate crimes against humanity and the environment. Armed with nothing but thrift-store suits and a lack of shame, these iconoclastic revolutionaries have starred in two films, lying their way into business events and government functions to expose the dangers of letting greed run our world.

Now the Yes Men are back with a new cinematic outing, The Yes Men Are Revolting. And they're preparing to take on the biggest challenge they've ever faced: climate change. How will they do it? Watch the movie to find out.

The Yes Men Are Revolting is available on iTunes and digital channels starting June 9 -- as well as opening in theaters in New York, Denver, Houston and other cities across the United States beginning June 12.

Wild & Weird: Hog Gone Wild Gets Arrested, Loses It in Cop Car

Pig in cop carLast Thursday at approximately 7 p.m., police in Shelby Township -- a northern suburb of Detroit -- received an emergency call from a woman who claimed she was nearly barreled over by a rampaging pig in her backyard. She then reportedly ran to the front yard, pig in hot pursuit, when the oinker suddenly got distracted by a decorative ball, stopped the chase and began to simply mill about.

Police arrived shortly after and used a dog pole to detain the pig, who put up little resistance. Then they made a critical mistake: They placed the alleged delinquent porker in the backseat of their cruiser … where "bathroom antics" ensued, all over the place.

Back at the station the pig's owner had reported his animal missing. He was allowed to bring the hog home -- after cleaning up the mess in the cruiser.

See photos of the detained piggy, whose smiling face has gone viral on Facebook, and read more at CBS Detroit.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

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Photo credits: President Obama courtesy; marten courtesy Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife; Mexican gray wolf (c) Robin Silver, Center for Biological Diversity; Endangered Species Condoms art by Shawn DiCriscio and design by Lori Lieber; Florida panther courtesy USFWS; fox courtesy Flickr/Temari 09; brown bear (c) Robin Silver, Center for Biological Diversity; Havasupai Falls (c) Robin Silver, Center for Biological Diversity; film poster courtesy Picture Motion; pig courtesy Shelby Township Police Department.

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