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Center for Biological Diversity

No. 783, July 16, 2015

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Petition: Protect Pangolins, World's Most Trafficked Mammals

PangolinEver heard of the pangolin? Turns out these scaly, obscure animals -- of which there are eight species in existence -- are the world's most trafficked mammals and at risk of extinction. So this week a coalition of wildlife groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, petitioned the U.S. government to designate seven species of pangolins across the globe as "endangered" under the country's Endangered Species Act (the eighth species, a native of Africa, is already protected).

More than 960,000 of these armored mammals were illegally traded over the past decade; numbers are plummeting due to a massive and growing demand for pangolins' meat and scales, especially from East Asia. But even U.S. demand is significant: At least 26,000 imports of pangolin products were seized in the United States between 2004 and 2013.

"If we don't act now, demand for pangolin parts will wipe this extraordinary, odd and beautiful animal off the map," said Sarah Uhlemann, international program director at the Center. "The United States must do its part to shut down trade in pangolin scales."

Read more in the Center's press release.

Rally in Washington, D.C., to Save Oak Flat -- Join Us

Save Oak FlatThe fight to save Oak Flat is coming to Washington, D.C., next week, and we need you there.

Oak Flat, in central Arizona, has been sacred to the San Carlos Apache for hundreds of years, but Congress traded it away in December to facilitate a huge copper mine for international mining giant Rio Tinto. The mine would destroy Oak Flat; leave behind a massive crater; and wipe out streams, springs and wildlife.

Members of the Apache Stronghold have been caravanning across the United States this month from Arizona and will arrive in Washington, D.C., next week for a massive rally. We need as many people as possible to show up and speak out for Oak Flat -- and support an important bill by Rep. Raúl Grijalva to repeal the giveaway of this holy place.

The rally will be Wednesday -- RSVP if you can attend. If you can't, please sign our pledge to save Oak Flat.

No Punishment for Killer of Echo, Grand Canyon Wolf

Grand Canyon wolfA cougar hunter in Utah will not be prosecuted for shooting dead the wandering wolf, Echo, last December. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service investigators have accepted the shooter's claim that he mistook the collared, 3-year-old female wolf for a coyote -- which are legal to hunt year-round in the Beehive State and carry a $50 bounty. Before she made her way to Utah, Echo was spotted wandering on the Grand Canyon's north rim, the first wolf seen there in many decades.

Center cofounder Robin Silver filed a Freedom of Information Act request that resulted in the release of 148 pages from Fish and Wildlife's files on the investigation. Although information on the culprit and his associates had been redacted, the documents showed that the killer would have faced prosecution except for a Department of Justice policy -- not supported by the Endangered Species Act -- that enables hunters who claim mistaken identity in killing endangered animals to escape prosecution.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch could change the policy and restore deterrence to killing endangered wildlife with the stroke of her pen.

Read more in The Salt Lake Tribune.

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National Education Association Opposes California's Phillips 66 Project

Oil trainCiting concerns over student and teacher safety, the National Education Association has come out against the proposed Phillips 66 oil-train offloading facility in California's San Luis Obispo County. If approved the project would bring millions of gallons of hazardous crude oil every day through highly populated areas near hundreds of schools.

With nearly 3 million members in 50 states, the NEA is the nation's largest professional organization and union. Its "representative assembly" voted last week to send a letter urging the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors to reject the permit for the project.

The Center has been helping organize opposition to the Phillips 66 project; so far 13 school boards and five teachers' unions have joined the opposition, along with nearly 20 local governments.

"Teachers across America want San Luis Obispo's dangerous oil-train project stopped in its tracks," said the Center's Valerie Love.

Read more in the Santa Barbara Independent.

Protection Sought for Moose in Midwest

MooseThe Center and ally group Honor the Earth have petitioned to earn Endangered Species Act protection for moose found in northeastern and northwestern Minnesota, northeastern North Dakota, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Isle Royale, and a small portion of Wisconsin. This moose has sharply decreased in numbers -- especially in Minnesota, where its population has declined by nearly 60 percent due to climate change, habitat degradation, disease and more.

Moose are particularly imperiled by climate change because of their thick, insulating fur -- which helps them survive freezing weather but leaves them susceptible to overheating when temperatures increase, leading to malnutrition and lowering their immune systems. Meanwhile, ticks and other pathogens thrive in the warmer climate.

"If we don't protect these moose, they could be lost forever from the North Woods," said the Center's Collette Adkins. "Growing up in Minnesota, I loved seeing moose during family vacations. It's a tragedy that today kids only know this amazing animal as stuffed toys in tourist shops."

Read more about Collette's devotion to saving the moose in this MinnPost op-ed.

Court Challenge Seeks Recovery Plan for Oregon Coho

Coho salmonThe Center and Oregon Wild this week sued the National Marine Fisheries Service for failing to develop a recovery plan for Oregon coast coho salmon. The fish have been protected under the Endangered Species Act for nearly seven years, but the agency has yet to make a plan to guide improvements in logging and other land-management practices that have been a major factor in damaging coho populations.

"Oregon coast coho salmon need a roadmap if they're going to have any chance at recovery," said the Center's Noah Greenwald. "Oregon's logging rules are badly out of date and allow practices that do real harm to coho salmon and the precious rivers and streams they depend on."

Read more in our press release.

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Report: Seabirds Have Declined by 70 Percent Since the '50s

Brown pelicansA new study in the journal PLOS One concludes that the world's monitored seabird populations have dropped by a staggering 70 percent since the 1950s. Because seabirds are prime indicators of ecosystem health, these findings show that marine habitats are in serious trouble too.

This study compiled information on more than 500 seabird populations from around the world -- 19 percent of all seabirds -- and found they declined overall by 69.6 percent, a loss of 230 million individuals in 60 years. The birds are suffering from a long list of threats, including habitat loss, overfishing of the fish they eat, drowning in fishing nets, plastic pollution, oil spills and climate disruption.

The Center is working to save a number of seabirds, including ashy storm petrels, emperor penguins, marbled murrelets, brown pelicans and western gull-billed terns.

Read more in Science World Report.

Wild & Weird: Hitch a Virtual Ride on a Sea Turtle -- Watch Video

Green sea turtleIt's not easy to swim a mile in a sea turtle's shoes, but you can come close by watching a great new video from the World Wildlife Fund and GoPro, which temporarily fitted a camera atop the shell of a green sea turtle.

Find out what Australia's extraordinary Great Barrier Reef looks like from a turtle's point of view by resting atop the creature's back as he paddles his way through a beautiful undersea world of sunlight, coral, schools of colorful fish and aquamarine ocean water.

Watch the video now.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

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Photo credits: Pangolin courtesy Flickr/David Brossard; Oak Flat graphic courtesy Standing Fox Photography; Grand Canyon wolf courtesy Arizona Game & Fish Department; wolves by John Pitcher; oil train courtesy Flickr/Kurt Haubrich; moose by Ryan Hagerty, USFWS; coho salmon courtesy Flickr/BLM; brown bear (c) Robin Silver, Center for Biological Diversity; brown pelicans courtesy Flickr/Fred Hochstaedter; green sea turtle courtesy Flickr/Phillipe Guillaume.

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