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Center for Biological Diversity

No. 791, Sept. 10, 2015

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Wait No More: Protection Decisions On the Way for 10 Species

Black-capped petrelImportant news in our work to save species threatened with extinction: This week the Center for Biological Diversity and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reached an agreement setting legally binding deadlines for the agency to decide whether to protect 10 species under the Endangered Species Act.

The species are scattered throughout the country, including the black-capped petrel, a seabird along the Atlantic Coast threatened by oil drilling; six imperiled fish and a mussel in the Southeast being hurt by water pollution; a stonefly in Montana's Glacier National Park suffering because of shrinking glaciers; and a snail that's threatened by an open-pit gold mine in California.

The Endangered Species Act only works if it's used to protect the wildlife that need it most. These 10 species have waited years for help, so this agreement will finally spur the agency to decide whether they'll get federal protections. Depending on the species, those decisions will be made between 2016 and 2020.

Read more in our press releases.

How Obama Can Save the Climate: Keep Public Fossil Fuels in the Ground

Report coverIf President Obama is unclear about what he can do to begin truly fixing the climate crisis, the Center is here to help. This morning we released a landmark report detailing the forms of legal authority he can use right now -- without waiting for Congress -- to stop new fossil fuel leasing on America's public lands and oceans. That step alone could keep nearly half the potential emissions from all remaining U.S. fossil fuels -- up to 450 billion tons of greenhouse gas pollution -- from escaping into the atmosphere. It would also protect America's public lands, water and wildlife from fossil fuel industrialization.

Our report this week is part of a groundbreaking campaign to halt new leases for coal, oil, gas, oil shale and tar sands on federally controlled lands.

"President Obama has the power right now to take a giant leap toward tackling the climate crisis by ending new leases on public lands and oceans," said Center Senior Attorney Michael Saul. "It's not enough to just regulate tailpipes and smokestacks -- new production needs to be phased out too."

Read more in our press release and sign our petition asking the president to halt new fossil fuel leases.

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California to List Widely Used Herbicide as Carcinogenic

Farm workers California's Environmental Protection Agency has just announced that it will classify glyphosate -- a widely used herbicide dangerous to people and linked to the dramatic decline of monarch butterflies -- as a chemical known to cause cancer. Earlier this year the World Health Organization found that glyphosate, commonly known as Roundup, was a probable human carcinogen.

"California's taking an important step toward protecting people and wildlife from this toxic pesticide," said the Center's Nathan Donley. "More than 250 million pounds of glyphosate are used each year in the United States, and the science is clear that it's a threat to public health and countless wildlife species. It's long past time to start reining in the out-of-control use of glyphosate in the United States."

In June, as part of a settlement with the Center, the U.S. EPA agreed to analyze the effects of glyphosate on 1,500 endangered species.

Read more in the East Bay Express.

End Cruel Trapping on Wildlife Refuges -- Take Action

Canada lynxA public-opinion poll recently conducted by Decision Research shows that four out of five Americans believe trapping on national wildlife refuges should be completely prohibited. But that it exists at all within these sanctuaries is astounding and perverse. In what sense is a refuge a refuge if steel-jaw leghold traps and neck snares are littering the landscape?

With 563 areas designated, the U.S. National Wildlife Refuge System encompasses an incredible collection of habitats needed by more than 240 endangered species -- from lynx to wolves. But for years many of these animals have fallen prey to our gruesome devices on federally protected lands. It's time for that to stop.

Act now to urge your elected officials in Congress to cosponsor the Refuge From Cruel Trapping Act -- legislation that would finally end trapping in our wildlife refuges.

Center Demands Justice for Killed Wolf, Precautions Against More Killings

Grand Canyon wolfLate last year we were heartbroken to learn that "Echo" -- the female northern gray wolf repeatedly observed and photographed on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon -- had been shot in Utah. This endangered wild canine, named by schoolchildren, was shot by someone who reportedly mistook the radio-collared, 89-pound wolf for a (much smaller, uncollared) coyote.

Since then the shooter has been let off scot-free, with no federal charges filed for his flagrant violation of the Endangered Species Act. But the Center has continued to push for information, accountability, and most of all protection -- for the next wolf that may venture into Utah in search of a mate and a home.

Documents newly released in response to a state open-records act request by the Center's Dr. Robin Silver show that the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources knew that a radio-collared wolf was in the southwestern corner of their state. Despite this, it continued to promote the state's $50-per-dead-coyote bounty program, which killed thousands of coyotes. The Center is warning state officials that the next time there is a wolf reported in the state, this repugnant bounty must be suspended.

Read more in the Salt Lake City Weekly.

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Lawsuit Launched to Save Marten in Northwest

American martenThe Center and allies have notified the Fish and Wildlife Service of our intent to sue the agency for failing to protect the coastal marten -- a secretive, mink-like carnivore in the weasel family -- under the Endangered Species Act. Represented by Earthjustice, we first petitioned for protection in 2010, but the Service denied it earlier this year.

Dwelling in old-growth forests along the coast of Northern California and southern and central Oregon, coastal martens were once trapped extensively for their plush fur; now they're under dire threat from habitat destruction -- 95 percent of their habitat is gone. Fewer than 100 of these cat-like mammals remain in California, with an unknown (but also tiny) number surviving in Oregon. In fact coastal martens were believed extinct for many years.

"The science clearly shows that these irreplaceable creatures are some of the most endangered in the United States," said the Center's Tierra Curry, lead author of our marten petition. "Denying protection is a blatant example of the feds caving to the timber industry."

Read more in the Eureka Times-Standard.

Earth Has 3 Trillion Trees -- 46 Percent Less Than Before Farming

Forest in SwedenAccording to a new study, there are about 3 trillion trees on Earth, seven times the amount previously estimated. Unfortunately an average of about 15 billion are now cut down every year, and since the beginning of agriculture 12,000 years ago, the world's tree bank has declined by almost half (46 percent).

The highest tree densities were found in the boreal forests of North America, Scandinavia and Russia, which tend to be tightly packed with skinny conifers and hold roughly 750 billion trees (24 percent of the global total). Tropical and subtropical forests, with the greatest area of forested land, are home to 1.3 trillion trees (43 percent).

The study's lead author, Thomas Crowther, cautions that the latest figures don't change carbon storage science or diminish the impact of deforestation. But improved tree counts could help managers and policymakers understand the economic benefits forests provide in terms of water purification, soil conservation and other functions against those of, say, timber harvest or clearing trees for farmland.

Read more in Nature.

Wild & Weird: One-star Reviews of National Parks Blame Tacos, Obama

North Cascades National ParkThe Grand Canyon, Yosemite, the Great Smoky Mountains and many others: America's 58 national parks represent one of the greatest collections of publicly owned natural and cultural treasures on the planet. If you had a chance to visit one over Labor Day weekend, chances are you saw two things: majestic views that will remain burned in your memory ... and long lines of people -- some grumpy -- flocking to get in the front gate or use the restrooms. For many Americans, Labor Day marks the summer's last big outdoor hurrah.

But it isn't just the crowds that can taint a trip to a national park. Reviewers using the website Yelp have given dozens of world-famous landscape jewels measly one-star ratings, berating the parks for everything from too many bees to substandard tacos to simply "Obama."

Take a look at these one-star reviews of our national wonders at Mother Jones.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

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Photo credits: Black-capped petrel courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Patrick Coin; report cover courtesy Center for Biological Diversity; wolves by John Pitcher; farm workers courtesy Oregon Department of Agriculture; Canada lynx courtesy Flickr/[bastian.]; Grand Canyon wolf courtesy Arizona Department of Fish and Game; brown bear (c) Robin Silver, Center for Biological Diversity; American marten courtesy USFWS; Swedish forest courtesy Flickr/Daniel Sjöström; North Cascades National Park courtesy Flickr/andy porter.

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