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Center for Biological Diversity

No. 786, Aug. 6, 2015

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Victory: California Bans All Bobcat Trapping -- Thank You

BobcatA huge win in our work to save predators: The California Fish and Game Commission on Wednesday voted to ban commercial bobcat trapping throughout the state. A hard-fought bill sponsored by the Center for Biological Diversity and approved by the California legislature in 2013 stopped bobcat trapping on the borders of national and state parks and other protected areas, but this week's vote took the final step to end commercial trapping of these beloved cats.

Over the past few years, a rising demand for bobcat pelts in China and Russia has driven up fur prices and caused a boom in bobcat trapping in California. The Center and allies have been working to stop this killing. The new ban was approved 3-2 by the commission.

Thanks to the tens of thousands of you who raised your voice to the wildlife commission in support showing that you value bobcats alive rather than as commodities. Every letter and voice counted in this victory.

Get more from KCET News.

New Restrictions Proposed on Ivory Trade -- Take Action

African elephantA reprieve at last for Africa's elephants: The Obama administration has proposed new rules to rein in the ivory trade in the United States. If passed the proposed regulations will nearly eliminate sales in ivory products across state lines. They will also shrink the confusing legal loopholes that have allowed illegal ivory to masquerade as legal ivory in the marketplace.

A poaching crisis is wiping out elephant populations across Africa, killing almost 100 elephants every day. The United States plays a major role in this slaughter -- we have the second-largest market for ivory in the world behind China. Recently China announced that it would phase out its domestic ivory markets by 2017, calling on the United States to do the same.

While the Center applauds the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for taking its step forward to regulate ivory, an even stronger action would be to list both of Africa's elephant species -- the forest and savannah elephants -- as "endangered" under the Endangered Species Act. Take action now to tell the Service you support a full ban on domestic ivory sales and ask the agency to list elephants as endangered.

Evidence of Another Wolf in California's Siskiyou County

Wolf tracksHas another wolf found its way into California? It's looking that way. On Monday the state's Department of Fish and Wildlife released photos from a trail camera -- and reported fresh tracks -- after citizen reports of a large, dark-colored canid in Siskiyou County. Wildlife officials are hoping to get scat samples for DNA testing to determine conclusively whether it's a wolf.

"This is very exciting news," said the Center's Amaroq Weiss. "Wolves are proving what scientists have said all along -- that California is great habitat for wolves."

The first wolf in nearly a century to make California part of its range was OR-7, a radio-collared wolf from Oregon that arrived in California in 2011. He has since found a mate in southwestern Oregon and has had two litters of pups. After OR-7's arrival the Center petitioned California to protect wolves under the state's Endangered Species Act; the state Fish and Game Commission approved that request in June 2014, making it illegal to intentionally kill any wolves in the Golden State.

Learn more and check out a trail-camera photo of the wolf in the San Francisco Chronicle.

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Crowded Planet: Human Population to Hit 11 Billion by 2100

Mule deerA new revision to the United Nations' World Population Prospects predicts that the world's human population will reach 9.7 billion by 2050 and exceed 11 billion by 2100. The world's current human population, 7.3 billion, is nearly double what it was in 1970.

"The population problem isn't some abstract crisis. There's a lot we can do right here in the United States to make a difference," said Leigh Moyer, the Center's population organizer. "Simply by being conscious of the impact human population growth has on the environment when planning our families -- and the choices we make as consumers -- we can start to turn those numbers around and reduce our footprints on the planet."

The report also projects that the population of the United States is likely to reach 389 million in 2050, having grown by more than 200 million people since 1950.

Read more in our press release and consider signing up for Pop X, our monthly newsletter on population and sustainability.

Rare Fish Take Center Stage in Montana Mural

Endangered Species MuralIn the second installment of the Center's Endangered Species Mural Project, artist Roger Peet has painted a beautiful mural of one of the world's rarest fish in uptown Butte, Mont.

The Montana Arctic grayling used to occur in rivers and streams throughout the upper Missouri River, but it has dwindled to one last river-dwelling population, in the Big Hole River near Butte. Threatened by a combination of excessive irrigation diversions and nonnative fish, Big Hole grayling are truly on the very brink of extinction.

We hope this endangered species mural -- like others planned for cities near their habitats across the country, from a mountain caribou painted in Sandpoint, Idaho, to a monarch planned for Minneapolis -- will draw local attention to the grayling's plight. "The goal is to make these symbols a part of daily life," said Peet.

Read more in The Montana Standard.

Kentucky Prison Opposed Over Threats to Wildlife, Water, People

Indiana batThe Center for Biological Diversity and the Human Rights Defense Center are urging state officials in Kentucky to oppose a planned maximum-security prison in Letcher County. If it's built it could subject surrounding communities to the prison's wastewater discharges and likely expose prisoners to contaminated water. The prison would also destroy about 700 acres of wildlife habitat, including for two federally endangered bats as well as the eastern hellbender, Kentucky red-backed vole and sharp-shinned hawk.

"Kentucky's leaders need to take a stand to protect forests, waterways and wildlife from this sprawling new prison," said the Center's Lori Ann Burd. "These endangered bats give us crucial ecosystem services by controlling insects, and this project could destroy the little habitat they have left."

We're calling on the Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Fish and Wildlife to oppose the federal Bureau of Prison's plan for the project.

Read more in our press release and in The Atlantic.

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New 'Golden Wolf' Confirmed in Africa

Golden jackalYes, a new lone gray wolf has been discovered roaming in California -- but did you know that researchers have also just confirmed an entire "new" wolf species in Africa?

Biologists have long known about Africa's golden jackals, which are in the same family as the gray wolves seen in North America (and elsewhere) but look dramatically different, with their much smaller bodies and more delicate features -- not to mention their striking golden coats. But according to the authors of a recent study in the journal Current Biology, two golden jackal populations -- one in Eurasia and the other in Africa -- split more than 1 million years ago and are actually separate species, with the African golden jackal more closely related to the gray wolf despite appearing almost identical to the Eurasian golden jackal.

So even though the newly confirmed African golden wolf and California's latest gray wolf look much different -- and live continents away -- they have even more in common than being in the news.

Read more in The Guardian.

Beautiful Images of Endangered Species Loom Over New York

Empire State BuildingAn almost 400-foot tall snow leopard lit up New York City on Saturday night, projected on the southern face of the Empire State Building. Over the course of three hours, an image of a leopard faded and was replaced by an array of other endangered species, fading and reappearing in a loop -- among them rays, monkeys, snakes and birds.

The massive, colorful light display, by activist-filmmakers Louie Psihoyos and Travis Threlkel, showed what Psihoyos called a "Noah's ark" of animals. "We're going to try to create something beautiful," said Threlkel. "Hopefully, this is one big domino. If we can tip it, it would be great."

Watch a slideshow in The New York Times, including photos by renowned wildlife photographer and Center friend Joel Sartore.

Looking for Summer Reading? Check Out Our Membership Newsletter

Endangered Earth: Summer 2015 NewsletterWe're happy to share the summer 2015 issue of Endangered Earth, the Center's print newsletter, as an online PDF for easy viewing. This edition features the launch of our latest program, Environmental Health, as well as pieces on the Grand Canyon, vaquita porpoises and Wildlife Services, the rogue government program that has killed some 27 million native animals in the United States.

Each print newsletter includes pieces written by the staff closest to highlighted campaigns, plus a message from our executive director. We make our members-only print newsletter available to our online supporters as a thank-you for taking action -- but please consider becoming a member today and helping us even more. Simply call us toll free at 1-866-357-3349 x 311 or visit our support webpage to learn more and make a gift.

Read a PDF of the summer 2015 issue now.

Wild & Weird: Ants Masterfully Switch Between Individual and Collective Action

AntsAccording to new research published in the journal Nature Communications, the impressive teamwork demonstrated by ants is partly due to their ability -- as far as we know, nearly unique among animals -- to switch quickly between individual and collective action.

Using Cheerios cereal, the researchers' experiments showed that ants work effectively, hauling a load many times their own weight across great distances of complicated terrain, by intuiting when more muscle is needed and when individual scouting and decision-making are needed.

When all's going well, ants push their Cheerios in the right direction in unison. When something goes wrong, however, such as an impediment to moving forward, the first team-player ant to notice swiftly turns into a "highly individualistic leader" to find the best way forward.

Any ant can become a leader, though that leadership lasts less than 20 seconds -- at which time another ant may be best positioned to lead.

Read more at the Independent.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

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Photo credits: Bobcat by Annica Kreuter; African elephant courtesy Flickr/Swallowtail Garden Seeds; wolf tracks courtesy Flickr/Owen Parrish; wolves by John Pitcher; mule deer courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Oborseth; Montana Arctic grayling mural courtesy Roger Peet; Indiana bat courtesy U.S. Army; brown bear (c) Robin Silver, Center for Biological Diversity; golden jackal courtesy Wikimedia Commons/D. Gordon E. Robertson; Empire State Building courtesy Flickr/ccho; bee image courtesy Flickr/Andres Morya; ants courtesy Flickr/Thejas Penarkandy.

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