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Center for Biological Diversity

No. 782, July 9, 2015

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Famed Wolf OR-7 Sires a Second Litter of Pups in Southern Oregon

Oregon wolf pupsBig news for wolf recovery on the West Coast: Wildlife officials in Oregon report that wolf OR-7 -- who made international headlines in 2011 for becoming the first wild wolf in California in 87 years -- has sired another litter of pups.

OR-7 has been roaming southern Oregon and Northern California for the past four years; he finally found a mate last year and had a litter of pups. It's happened again for the second year in a row: While the new pups haven't been seen, biologists say they've found scat making it clear there's another litter.

It's great news, but the future of wolf recovery in Oregon and the West still hangs in the balance. Oregon wildlife commissioners are considering a proposal to end state protections for wolves, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service keeps pushing to end federal protections for nearly all wolves around the country.

"OR-7 traveled 4,000 miles to find a mate and start a family," said the Center for Biological Diversity's Amaroq Weiss, "but this important recovery can only continue if we keep protecting wolves."

Read more in The Oregonian -- where you can also see photos of OR-7's pups from a year ago -- and watch our video.

Win: Court Upholds 8.6 Million Acres of Protected Habitat for Green Sturgeon

Green sturgeonChalk one up for ancient fish: Green sturgeon will keep 8.6 million acres of federally protected "critical habitat" off California, Oregon and Washington because of an important ruling this week by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The decision upholds a district court ruling from 2012 that was appealed by the Pacific Legal Foundation, which fought the designation on behalf of developers and corporations trying to strip federal protections from green sturgeon.

The green sturgeon, one of the oldest fish species in the world, was listed as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act in 2006 based on a 2001 petition by the Center. In 2009 the National Marine Fisheries Service protected coastal and river areas along the West Coast -- including its only remaining spawning habitat on the Sacramento River -- as critical habitat for the sturgeon.

After the Pacific Legal Foundation sued, the Center intervened to ensure essential habitat protections remained in place.

Read more in our press release.

Seeing Neil Young This Summer? Find Us at the Show

Neil YoungThis month the Center is partnering with Neil Young to further a shared mission: protecting the planet and standing up for species great and small.

The folk-rock legend, on tour behind his new album The Monsanto Years, has invited the Center to join him at concert venues to spread the word about species extinction, pesticides, the population crisis and more. We'll be handing out Endangered Species Condoms and helping fans take action on crises like climate change and the endangerment of monarch butterflies.

We hope you'll come find us, whether it's tonight in Colorado at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre or at any other of several shows being held this month. Check our events page for a listing of dates.

Members of the Apache Stronghold joined the show last night as part of their caravan across the United States to save Oak Flat in central Arizona. Check out this great video.

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Polar Bear "Recovery" Plan Allows 85 Percent Population Decline

Polar bearFor the first time ever, the Fish and Wildlife Service last week released a recovery plan for a species that defines "recovery" as an astonishing 85 percent decline in that species' numbers after its listing under the Endangered Species Act.

The plan allows Alaskan polar bears to be considered "recovered" if they have only a 90 percent chance of persisting in 100 years -- and while it recognizes that climate change threatens to wipe out a majority of the world's polar bears, it proposes no meaningful measures to combat the threat. Without significant cuts in global-warming emissions, Arctic sea-ice loss being driven by climate change is predicted to drive the bears extinct.

The Obama administration's Interior Department released the weak plan just as Shell's oil rigs are making their way north to begin drilling the polar bear's fragile Arctic habitat, with the administration's blessing.

"When it comes to carbon pollution melting the polar bears' Arctic world, this plan just shrugs and hopes for the best," said the Center's Rebecca Noblin. "Without specific targets for cutting greenhouse gases, we'll see more and more bears drowning and starving to death."

Read more in The Christian Science Monitor.

We're Giving Out 10,000 Endangered Species Condoms for World Population Day

Endangered Species CondomsSaturday is World Population Day, so naturally the Center will have an army of volunteers handing out Endangered Species Condoms in dozens of states -- this time Florida, Iowa, Oregon and 25 others. We're distributing 10,000 condoms, focusing mostly on areas where the wildlife featured on our packages are struggling to cope with the pressure of human population growth and all that comes with it.

The marshes that whooping cranes nest in, the milkweed that monarch caterpillars eat, and the kelp forests that sea otters rely on ... they're all disappearing as human population and demand for resources grow. The Center's condoms are a fun but poignant reminder that extinction is a real threat to species everywhere, and that there's an easy way each of us can help.

Volunteers will distribute condoms in their neighborhoods at block parties and parks, farmers' markets and subway platforms to bring population back into the environmental conversation. The first step toward a human population that's sustainable for all life is to talk about how that population is intricately connected to wildlife extinction.

Learn more about our Endangered Species Condoms and sign up for Pop X, our monthly e-newsletter on population and sustainability.

California OKs Fracking Rules Before Scientists Do

Offshore oil platformThis past week California's scandal-plagued oil agency began implementing dangerously weak regulations for fracking -- just days before the scheduled release of a fracking study by the state's Council on Science and Technology. The council has previously found that fracking in California occurs at unusually shallow depths, near protected drinking water aquifers, and with high concentrations of toxic chemicals.

The state also finalized this week an assessment of fracking's health and environmental risks, even though scientists working on a mandated independent scientific study (set to publish today) hadn't finished evaluating fracking's dangers.

Oil company tests have found that fracking in California produces vast quantities of waste fluid contaminated with cancer-causing benzene, and state regulators recently admitted allowing oil companies to dump toxic wastewater into underground drinking water supplies.

"Gov. Brown has recklessly given fracking the thumbs-up before scientists can finish studying this toxic technique," said the Center's Hollin Kretzmann. "Oil regulators can't protect us from industry pollution if they won't wait for experts to explain the dangers."

Read more in our press release.

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Court Victory: Grazing Hurts Endangered Species in Arizona's Fossil Creek

Chiricahua leopard frogA federal court has ruled that cows grazing in the Fossil Creek watershed of central Arizona damage the critical habitat of threatened Chiricahua leopard frogs -- a violation of the Endangered Species Act. Grazing in stream corridors impedes these rare frogs' movement among breeding sites, according to the court's opinion.

Livestock "spend a disproportionate amount of their time in riparian zones," and grazing can eliminate vegetation cover as well as spread disease, the court said. Cows' munching, trampling and defecation bring serious degradation to streamside ecosystems. The ruling, which resulted from a lawsuit the Center filed in 2010, could mean the Fish and Wildlife Service will institute new rules to protect river habitat from the harm caused by cattle.

"Fossil Creek is one of the Southwest's most biologically precious river reaches," said the Center's Jay Lininger. "The ruling is a victory for this beautiful creek, native wildlife and public investments made to recover them. We're glad the court is demanding a course correction."

Read more in our press release.

Wild & Weird: Bizarre Sea Creature Finally Unmasked

HallucigeniaThe Cambrian period -- between 540 million to 490 million years ago -- marks an important time in the history of life on Earth. Some call it the Cambrian explosion because it's when nearly all major groups of animals first appear in the fossil record.

You could also call it the weirdo explosion, if so inclined. A veritable fashion show of bizarre critters appears in the Cambrian fossil record: Wiwaxia, a genus of slugs covered in scales and spikes; Opabinia, which have been described as shrimp that swallowed a vacuum cleaner; and Hallucigenia, sea creatures smaller than a hair, covered in giant spines and clawed appendages.

Thing is, fossil records of Hallucigenia, since first discovered 100 years ago, were all missing the creatures' heads. Now, for the first time, new specimens of Hallucigenia from Canada reveal the creatures to have eyes and what one scientist involved has called "a really cheeky semi-circular smile."

Read more at BBC News.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

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Photo credits: Oregon wolf pups courtesy Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife; green sturgeon courtesy Karuk Tribe Fisheries Department; Neil Young courtesy Flickr/Takahiro Kyono; wolves by John Pitcher; polar bear courtesy Flickr/Polar Cruises; Endangered Species Condoms art by Shawn Di Criscio and design by Lori Lieber; offshore oil platform courtesy Flickr/Way Out West News; brown bear (c) Robin Silver, Center for Biological Diversity; Chiricahua leopard frog by Jim Rorabaugh, USFWS; Hallucigenia courtesy Flickr/Natural Math.

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