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Center for Biological Diversity

No. 808, Jan. 7, 2016

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Standoff in Oregon Latest Result of Anti–Public Lands Movement

Sandhill crane in Malheur National Wildlife RefugeThe armed men who took over a federal building in southeastern Oregon are part of a long-running campaign of violence, intimidation and extremist paranoia that has festered for decades in the West over the issue of public lands -- the previous standoff made in 2014 by Cliven Bundy in Nevada. Among the demands at the latest standoff is to shut down Oregon's Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, which provides crucial protections for wildlife -- especially birds that migrate through the area.

Members of the men's group have said they're willing to kill and be killed if necessary.

"This is the latest in a long string of armed, right-wing thugs attempting to seize America's public lands and enact their paranoid, anti-government dream bought by guns and intimidation," said the Center for Biological Diversity's Kierán Suckling. "What's happening in Oregon is a logical outgrowth of right-wing rhetoric that demonizes even the concept of federal land -- places like national parks and forests -- and villainizes those who believe that publicly owned land should be more than just a source of profit for ranchers and corporations."

Read more in our press release and this story in VICE.

Lawsuit Launched to Protect Monarch Butterflies

Monarch butterflyIf we're going to save one of America's most beloved and charismatic butterflies, we need action. That's why the Center for Biological Diversity and the Center for Food Safety this week launched legal action over the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's failure to protect monarch butterflies under the Endangered Species Act. We petitioned the agency for federal protections in August 2014 following a decline in the butterfly's population over the past two decades of more than 80 percent.

The Service gave an initial positive decision on our petition a few months later but is now more than a year late in taking the next step to determine whether the butterflies will be protected. We filed notice this week of our intent to sue over the delay.

"The threats to the monarch are so large in scale that the butterfly needs the effective protection of the Endangered Species Act if we're really serious about saving this amazing migrating wonder for future generations," said the Center's Tierra Curry.

Read more in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Suit Challenges Removal of Protection From Oregon Wolves

Oregon wolvesWith roughly 80 known individuals mostly confined to one small corner of Oregon, the state's wolves are far from "recovered" -- so the Center and allies have sued the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission for removing state Endangered Species Act protections for the intelligent canines.

The last wolf in Oregon was shot in the 1940s, and the state was void of wolves until 2008, when the Imnaha pack was established in northeastern Oregon. Now wolves are almost making a comeback there -- but they've only begun. Before protections were stripped in November, scientists wrote to the Commission attesting to this precarious status, saying a decision to remove protections would be "untenable" and "fundamentally flawed." About 20,000 other citizens spoke out in favor of retaining state safeguards.

"It's simply too soon to remove protections for Oregon's wolves," said the Center's Noah Greenwald. We sued last Wednesday with Cascadia Wildlands and Oregon Wild.

Read more in The Register-Guard.

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Check Out Our New Forum for the Center's Voices: Medium

Grand CanyonLooking to read more from Center staffers about our work to save wildlife, people and the environment? You're in luck. We just launched a new page on Medium, a publishing platform with a strong social media component.

Already we've got pieces up about whales, wolves, pesticides, the Grand Canyon, population and even Frostpaw's adventures in Alaska. We'll be posting new content on a regular basis, including fresh takes on the day's breaking news, longer perspectives on what's happening in our work and personal stories about why we do what we do. We're building a community with this page, so we hope you'll join in.

Take a moment to check it out, follow it and -- importantly -- share pieces you like with your networks on Facebook and Twitter.

EPA Flouts Own Deadlines for Analyzing Toxic Pesticides

California red-legged frogThe Environmental Protection Agency missed the target dates it set for itself for 2015 to assess risks posed by three highly controversial pesticides: atrazine, glyphosate and imidacloprid.

Atrazine and glyphosate are two of the most commonly used pesticides in the United States, and are dangerous both to wildlife and people. Atrazine, an endocrine disruptor, is famous for chemically castrating frogs and is a likely cause of human birth defects, while glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup, is a leading cause of the decline of monarch butterflies and has been declared a probable human carcinogen.

Imidacloprid -- one of the world's most widely used insecticides -- is a neonicotinoid heavily implicated in mass bee die-offs and also highly toxic to birds and aquatic invertebrates.

Said the Center's Lori Ann Burd, "The EPA is dragging its feet in analyzing and telling the public about the full dangers of these pesticides, and the longer we're left in the dark, the greater the danger becomes."

Read more in our press release.

Help Us Halt Fracking Leases on Pristine Colorado Lands -- Take Action

Thompson Divide, ColoradoWe need your help urging the Obama administration to cancel illegal fracking leases on the Thompson Divide in western Colorado -- including in roadless areas and some of the last, best undisturbed forest in the state. The Bureau of Land Management is proposing to completely or partially cancel 25 of 65 illegal fracking leases that were issued with no analysis of their impacts on forests, climate or endangered species.

That's not good enough. As the climate crisis worsens, the Obama administration must align public land and climate priorities now. The feds must cancel all the leases to keep climate-destroying fossil fuels in the ground on those lands, as well as to protect tens of thousands of pristine acres from industrialization.

The deadline for comments is Friday, so please take action today.

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Petition Seeks to Extend Monitoring for Northern Rockies Wolves

Gray wolfFollowing a study on the dangers of hunting policies enacted since protections for northern Rockies wolves were lifted, the Center and four partners petitioned Tuesday to extend monitoring of these wolves' status to help keep them safe.

Since 2009 when protections were first removed, more than 2,300 wolves have been killed by hunters or trappers in Montana and Idaho, both states having repeatedly increased hunting and trapping quotas and lengthened seasons in an effort to substantially reduce wolf populations. New research published in the journal Science recently found that the Fish and Wildlife Service and the two states have underestimated the impacts and risks of these increasingly aggressive wolf-hunting guidelines, which are almost certainly resulting in population declines. The feds are required to extend the time that the Service monitors the wolf population in such a situation -- but they haven't agreed to do so yet.

"The new research confirms what many scientists have been saying all along," said Center attorney Andrea Santarsiere. "Left unchecked, wolf numbers will continue to decline. The Service clearly needs to continue to keep an eye on them."

Get more from KIVI TV.

Wild & Weird: High-speed Chameleon Tongues -- Watch Video

ChameleonThe wonders of chameleon tongues have long dazzled scientists. There are hundreds of videos on YouTube demonstrating -- sometimes in shocking slow motion -- the furiously fast and lengthy tongue launches of these lizards. But most research has focused on the larger species.

A new study published in Scientific Reports, which examined the tongue ballistics of many of the world's smaller (and previously overlooked) chameleon species, uncovered the following record-breaking results by the tiny rosette-nosed chameleon (Rhampholeon spinosus): It can project its fleshy tongue out 2.5 times the length of its body at an acceleration of up to 264 times that of gravity -- similar to going from 0 to 60 mph in 1/100 of a second -- grabbing its prey in just 20 milliseconds. Talk about fast food.

Learn why smaller chameleon species have longer, faster tongues at The New York Times, where you can also see a video of the rosette-nosed chameleon's mighty mouth organ.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

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Photo credits: Sandhill crane in Malheur National Wildlife Refuge by Roger Baker, USFWS; monarch butterfly courtesy USFWS; Oregon wolves courtesy Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife; wolves by John Pitcher; Grand Canyon (c) 2015 Stan Honda; California red-legged frog courtesy Flickr/Ken-ichi; Thompson Divide in Colorado courtesy Will Roush, Wilderness Workshop; brown bear (c) Robin Silver, Center for Biological Diversity; gray wolf by Michele Woodford, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; chameleons courtesy Flickr/Biodiversity Heritage Library.

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