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Center for Biological Diversity

No. 802, Nov. 25, 2015

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Give Thanks: Bobcat Trapping Ban Officially Begins in California

BobcatHere's something to be thankful for this week: On Friday, three days before bobcat trapping season had been scheduled to begin, a California state regulation banning both recreational and commercial trapping of these beautiful cats went into effect. The Center for Biological Diversity and local allies worked hard to bring the ban, voted into effect in August, into being.

From now on it's illegal to trap any bobcat, or sell or export bobcat fur or parts, anywhere in the state. Any holder of a trapping license who traps a bobcat by accident must immediately release it to the wild unharmed.

"This is a great moment," said Center Senior Counsel Brendan Cummings, who worked for the ban. "Fifteen years into the 21st century, state wildlife management has finally entered the 20th century."

Thanks to all of you who chipped in for this victory. Read more in the Los Angeles Times.

Report: U.S. Support Needed for Strong Airplane Pollution Rules in Paris

AirplaneAs the world prepares for the climate summit in Paris, the Center is urging U.S. negotiators to support powerful action on airplane emissions. A major new report shows enormous potential to reduce aviation's planet-warming pollution.

In a letter to the State Department's special envoy for climate change, we highlighted a new International Council on Clean Transportation study showing that some of the top 20 transatlantic air carriers can drive down greenhouse emissions by as much as 51 percent using existing technology. But language aimed at limiting aviation emissions was recently deleted from the Paris negotiating document, replaced by vague text unlikely to result in any significant pollution reductions.

"Airplanes pose a high-flying menace to our climate," said the Center's Vera Pardee. "If this rapidly growing pollution source isn't included in an international climate treaty, it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to prevent catastrophic warming."

Read more in our press release.

Feds Pushing to Get 170 Million Tons of Coal From Colorado Forest

CaterpillarThe Center and other conservation groups are condemning a decision by the U.S. Forest Service to try to open national forest roadless areas in Colorado to coal mining. The proposal would enable Arch Coal -- the nation's second-largest coal company -- to scrape roads and well pads on nearly 20,000 acres of otherwise-protected, publicly owned national forest in Colorado's North Fork Valley.

North Fork Valley coal contains large amounts of methane, a gas that, over a 20-year period, is more than 80 times more powerful than CO
2 at trapping heat.

"Ruining pristine backcountry for climate-destroying coal pollution is bad public policy," said the Center's Taylor McKinnon. "At a time when we should be moving to clean, renewable energy, this plan anchors us to more fossil fuels. President Obama should just nix it -- public lands should be part of the solution, not the problem."

Read more in our press release.

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Watercress Darter Mural Unveiled in Alabama -- Watch Video

Watercress darter mural in Birmingham, Ala.Last Saturday, in Birmingham, Ala., the Center hosted a sidewalk party to unveil the fourth mural in our national Endangered Species Mural Project -- a colorful, splashy artwork that celebrates the watercress darter, a beautiful fish found nowhere in the world save for five springs in the Birmingham area.

Our fish painting is on the wall of the soon-to-be-opened Lake Cottage Books, in a struggling section of a neighborhood called East Lake. Many local groups are working to protect the watercress darter and its habitat, and the Center hopes the mural will cultivate more love for the darter and the neighborhood. The festivities included music by the Oxy Morons and coloring darter hats designed by artists at the University of Montevallo.

We were also honored at the opening by the presence of William Mike Howell, the scientist who discovered the watercress darter 50 years ago, in 1965.

The mural was painted by Roger Peet of Portland, Ore., and Birmingham artists Merrilee Challiss and Creighton Tynes. Check out this video of the mural festivities and learn more about our Endangered Species Mural Project.

Show Your Love for Wildlife on #GivingTuesday

Oregon wolfOn Tuesday join the Center and thousands of other charities and nonprofits in celebrating a day for giving back. In the madness of the holiday shopping craze, #GivingTuesday is a day to change the calendar and celebrate the joy of giving back.

Every day the Center's scientists, lawyers and activists fight for our most imperiled wildlife. We fight in the courts and in the streets -- filing lawsuits and organizing our dedicated supporters to pack public meetings or send thousands of messages in support of wild creatures like California's bobcats, vaquita porpoises, hellbender salamanders and gray wolves. We do this because of the deep love we have for wild creatures and the places they roam.

For #GivingTuesday, a long-time wilderness champion has stepped forward with a generous matching gift offer for all donations, making your gift go twice as far protecting the wild animals, plants and places we all love.

Stand with us on #GivingTuesday and show your love for the wild with a matching gift.

Ancient Alaska National Forest Threatened by Continued Old-growth Clearcutting

Tongass National ForestThe U.S. Forest Service has just proposed a new management plan for the Tongass National Forest, a world-class temperate rainforest in southeast Alaska. The amended plan -- now subject to a 90-day period of public comments and hearings -- was meant to direct a transition away from decades of controversial and damaging old-growth logging.

But instead of proposing to get out of the old-growth clearcutting business in the fastest possible timeframe, the Forest Service's plan calls for mowing down centuries-old trees -- a whopping 490 million board feet of old growth -- over the next 15 years. The plan does not propose any new wildlife-conservation strategies, wilderness areas or "wild and scenic river" designations.

"This plan drags out what should be a rapid transition away from logging old growth," said the Center's Randi Spivak. "It will only prolong controversy and harm to the salmon, wolves and other wildlife calling the Tongass National Forest home."

Read more in our press release.

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Hubbs-SeaWorld Proposes Largest U.S. Fish Farm Off San Diego Coast

Yellowtail amberjackThe Environmental Protection Agency is now considering a plan by Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute and Cuna del Mar to build a massive fish farm 4.5 miles from San Diego's shore. The farm would be the country's biggest, annually producing as much as 5,000 metric tons of yellowtail jack and other fish.

It could also be the country's most destructive: Farmed fish often escape -- spreading diseases and weakening the genetics of wild fish when they interbreed -- and the facility would discharge the waste of millions of confined fish directly into the ocean, contributing to toxic algal blooms already causing environmental and economic harm in California. Further, the increase in sea-vessel traffic surrounding the farm would threaten many species living there, like endangered blue whales and leatherback sea turtles. The upside? None -- fish farms don't actually ease demand for wild fish, since farmed fish eat feed made from wild-caught fish.

"While there's no doubt we need to address overfishing," said Center attorney Kristen Monsell, "destructive, polluting factory farms in our ocean aren't the answer."

Read more in our press release.

Biodiversity Briefing: Keep It in the Ground -- Listen Now

Keep It in the GroundThe Center's latest quarterly "Biodiversity Briefing" phone call, led by Executive Director Kierán Suckling, focused on the Center's Keep It in the Ground campaign, which is seeking to end all new fossil fuel leasing on public lands and from beneath our oceans.

Kierán explained that while President Obama has sought to regulate the burning of fossil fuels, their extraction has dramatically increased -- and a huge percentage of extracted fossil fuels comes from public lands, which belong to the American people. Earlier this year the Center and Friends of the Earth commissioned a report showing that halting new fossil fuel leases could keep up to 450 billion tons of climate pollution in the ground.

"I'm very, very excited about this campaign," Kierán said. "It's unifying what would've been largely separate efforts to protect wildlife habitat and clean water and to protect our climate."

Learn more about Keep It in the Ground and listen to a recording of Kierán's briefing. These personal phone briefings, including Q&A sessions, are open to all members of the Center's Leadership Circle and Owls Club. For information on how to join and be invited to participate live on the calls, email Senior Donor Relations Associate Julie Ragland or call her at (520) 623-5252 x 304.

Wild & Weird: Bird Brains Detect Breast Cancer

PigeonDuring World War II the U.S. Army Pigeon Service employed 54,000 pigeons for communication and reconnaissance. One pigeon, named G.I. Joe, even received a medal for gallantry after saving more than 1,000 human lives.

So maybe it should come as no surprise that in a new study published in PLOS One, researchers found that pigeons can save human lives in another way: The birds can actually be taught to tell the difference between malignant and benign breast cancer in digitized renderings of mammograms 90 percent of the time.

Read more about pigeon pathologists at Huffington Post; then read more about the heroic war pigeon G.I. Joe in the online version of the book A History of Army Communications and Electronics at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, 1917–2007.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

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Photo credits: Bobcat courtesy NPS; airplane courtesy Flickr/Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield; caterpillar courtesy USFS; wolves by John Pitcher; watercress darter mural by Roger Peet; wolf pup courtesy Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife; Tongass National Forest courtesy Flickr/Chris deRham; brown bear (c) Robin Silver, Center for Biological Diversity; yellowtail jack courtesy Flickr/Brian Gratwicke; Keep It in the Ground image courtesy Center for Biological Diversity; pigeon courtesy Flickr/Nathan Rupert.

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Center for Biological Diversity
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