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Center for Biological Diversity

No. 788, Aug. 20, 2015

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Public Lands, Oceans Hold 450 Billion Tons of Climate Pollution

SmokestacksEnding new fossil fuel leasing on America's public lands and offshore areas would keep up to 450 billion tons of greenhouse gases from polluting our atmosphere, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis commissioned by the Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the Earth.

The study, by consultants EcoShift, reveals that allowing these publicly owned fossil fuels to be developed would cripple the United States' ability to meet its obligations to avert the worst effects of the global climate crisis. Our publicly owned coal, oil and natural gas resources are controlled by the federal government, so President Barack Obama has it in his power to make sure they're never burned -- he just needs to commit to it.

The report kicks off a Center campaign to halt new fossil fuel leasing on public lands and offshore areas.

"Our climate can't afford the pollution from more federal fossil fuel leasing," said the Center's Taylor McKinnon. "The natural place for President Obama to start leading the global fight to keep fossil fuels in the ground is on our public lands and oceans."

Check out our Keep It in the Ground website, sign our petition to keep these fuels in the ground and share it with your networks.

Hawaiian Monk Seals Get 7,000 Square Miles of Protected Habitat

Hawaiian monk sealA lifeline for Hawaii's charismatic and unique seals: The National Marine Fisheries Service issued a final rule on Tuesdsay protecting more than 7,000 square miles of critical habitat for them. Monk seals are among the world's most endangered marine mammals, and several have been brutally killed in recent years in crimes that are yet unsolved. These monk seals' population is down to around 1,100 and falling at 3 percent annually.

"Hawaiian monk seals have been in serious trouble for a long time, and these new habitat protections will give them a desperately needed chance at survival," said Miyoko Sakashita, our oceans program director. "Monk seals are nearly extinct, so we need to make sure our coasts offer them a safe haven."

Tuesday's action is the culmination of a process that began in 2008 with a petition by the Center and allies. Critical habitat requires the federal government to consult biologists before allowing any activities that may disturb or damage the home of these rare and vanishing creatures; species with critical habitat are twice as likely to be recovering as those without.

Read more in Maui Now.

Help 20 Herps Get Lifesaving Protections -- Take Action

Alligator snapping turtleBack in 2012, the Center filed a petition to protect dozens of amphibians and reptiles around the country. It was the largest of its kind and endorsed by more than 200 scientists including E.O. Wilson, Thomas Lovejoy and Michael Lannoo. Now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reviewing whether 20 of these petitioned herpetofauna, or "herps," will get protections under the Endangered Species Act. We need your help to make it happen.

Perhaps you've seen an alligator snapping turtle in the wild or been sung to sleep by Illinois chorus frogs; maybe you've come to eye-to-eye with one of Oregon's slender salamanders. But even if you haven't, these fascinating turtles, salamanders, frogs and snakes desperately need your help -- nearly 1 in 4 amphibians and reptiles is at risk of extinction, yet only 67 of the nation's more than 1,500 species protected under the Endangered Species Act represent these wildlife groups.

Act now to urge the Service to move quickly to protect these rare, incredible creatures before it's too late. You can even petition specifically for the species that may live near you.

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Center Opens First International Office in La Paz, Mexico

VaquitaThe Center officially opened its first international office this week in La Paz, Mexico. Near the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula, the office will be staffed by local, long-time oceans activist Alejandro Olivera Bonilla. His first order of business? Saving vaquitas, probably the most imperiled marine mammals on the planet.

Alex was a professor and researcher at the University of Baja California Sur for three years, then joined Greenpeace Mexico in Mexico City; before he came to us, he was communications and public policies coordinator at the Mexican Center for Environmental Law.

He'll also be working to protect sea turtles. Last Friday we had a timely victory when the National Marine Fisheries Service, a U.S. federal agency, "certified" Mexico because its fisheries are killing too many endangered loggerheads. In 2013 the Center and Turtle Island Restoration Network formally petitioned the Service to certify Mexico for its sea turtle bycatch; we'll now push the White House to quickly authorize a strong embargo on seafood products from Mexican fisheries.

The Arc and Art of Extinction -- Listen to Interview

Polar bearThis week Center Executive Director Kierán Suckling sat down with WCAI's Heather Goldstone for an in-depth interview about wildlife, extinction, culture, art and the future of the conservation movement.

Kierán was in Cape Cod, where he grew up, as part of several events in Martha's Vineyard this week, including our own Frostpaw the Polar Bear following President Obama with an urgent message on climate change, a screening of the film Racing Extinction, and an art event at Gay Head Gallery that focused on wildlife and extinction.

"At the end of the day, conservation is about love," said Kierán in the radio interview, "and art is the language of love. Art is what brings us closer to the world."

Listen to the interview and check out this photo gallery of Frostpaw in Martha's Vineyard.

Wild on Campus: Sign Up for College Action Kits

College studentsThere are three things many college students will have on their mind as they head back to campus this fall: food, sex and activism. The first two may already be covered, so now the Center's Population and Sustainability program has created new Campus Wild Action Kits to tie all three issues together.

We're giving away 100 kits this fall as part of our search for campus leaders who will help lead the fight to save wildlife and spread the word about sustainability. The kits will help college students talk about how unsustainable consumption and population growth hurt the planet and how we can make better, Earth-friendlier choices every day. Students will receive a box with Take Extinction Off Your Plate materials to support campus efforts to reduce meat consumption and, of course, our Endangered Species Condoms to get classmates talking about the connection between reproductive choices and wildlife.

If you're a student or know someone on campus, be among the first to join our "Team Wild" campus volunteer network and receive one of the brand-new action kits. Sign up today.

Bring Back the Bears

Suit Aims to Protect Canada Lynx From Trapping Deaths, Injuries in Maine

Canada lynxThe Center and allies filed suit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Monday for allowing trappers in Maine to kill and seriously injure Canada lynx. Along with coyotes, foxes, mink and other animals, the snow cats are accidentally caught and killed in brutal traps every year -- including body-gripping Conibear traps, which snap shut in a viselike grip.

The lawsuit challenges a federal permit, issued to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife last year, that allows for three trapped lynx to be killed over 15 years, nine to suffer severe injury and 183 to suffer "minor" injuries and be immediately released. These numbers don't adequately show the problem, since the Service has found that 75 percent of trapped lynx aren't even reported.

"I'm outraged that endangered lynx continue to needlessly suffer and die in cruel traps," said the Center's Collette Adkins. "A few common-sense changes could prevent most of this suffering, but the Service refuses to require Maine's trapping programs to make those changes."

Read more in the Portland Press Herald.

Video Catches Rare Glimpse of Florida Panther Family -- Watch Video

Florida pantherCheck this out: The Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute recently got permission to post trail camera footage of a female Florida panther and her three young offspring walking through Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in southwest Florida. The footage, from photographer Brian Hampton, is a rare glimpse of a panther family.

The Center has been working for years to protect Florida panthers and expand their habitat in the Southeast. There are fewer than 200 left in the wild, and since 2014 more than 50 have been discovered dead, most from vehicle strikes.

Here's to hoping this panther family stays safe and wild. Watch the video and then sign our petition supporting reintroduction of panthers to northern Florida.

Wild & Weird: Watch This Giant, Stinky Flower Bloom Live

Titan arumTitan arum, an enormous flowering plant known by many as the "corpse flower" due to its delicate bouquet of decomposing flesh, can produce a massive bloom more than 10 feet in height.

Its peak smell comes a few hours after full bloom and attracts beetles, carrion flies and other insects on the hunt for rotting meat -- many of which, in the wild, carry pollen on their bodies from other nearby corpse flowers. Temporarily stuck in the bloom, these insects ensure pollination and then are released by the plant.

You can watch a live feed of titan arum blooming at the Denver Botanic Gardens and then check out this time-lapse video of one blooming over a two-week period.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

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Photo credits: Smokestacks courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Myrabella; Hawaiian monk seal courtesy NOAA; alligator snapping turtle courtesy Flickr/Melissa Wilkins; wolves by John Pitcher; original vaquita graphic by Barbara Taylor; polar bear graphic courtesy Center for Biological Diversity; college students courtesy Flickr/Tulane Public Relations; California flag image courtesy Y & R California; Canada lynx courtesy Flickr/Keith Williams; Florida panther courtesy USFWS; titan arum courtesy Flickr/CaliforniaJD.

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Center for Biological Diversity
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