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Center for Biological Diversity

No. 822, April 14, 2016

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Lawsuit Seeks Records on Decision to End Red Wolf Recovery

Red wolfSo why did the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decide to pull the plug on the recovery of red wolves? That's what we aim to find out. This week the Center for Biological Diversity sued the agency under the Freedom of Information Act to get public records explaining what happened. We requested the public records last fall, but over the course of seven months, the Service has sent a total of only eight documents to the Center, and it continues to ignore the law's mandated deadlines.

There are as few as 45 red wolves remaining in the wild, all of them in North Carolina. The population had exceeded more than 130 wild wolves as recently as 2012, but it has now declined by 50 percent following the Service's recent actions to curtail the species' recovery program.

"The agency's obstinate behavior is a telling indicator of just how political its actions have been in this disgraceful attempt to kill off a historic recovery program and condemn red wolves to captivity," said the Center's Brett Hartl.

Read more in our press release.

Are You Ready to Raise Your Voice for Public Lands?

Do you love public lands?If you love public lands, you'll have a chance next week to tell the world. For Earth Week the Center is helping rally people around the country to participate in events and show their love for national forests, deserts, parks, rivers, streams and wildlife refuges. We hope you'll join us.

Here's why: America's public lands are under attack by those in Congress and elsewhere who want to turn these precious areas over to states and private interests so they can be logged, drilled, mined, bulldozed and developed. We're raising our voices to let them know we want public lands to stay in public hands.

We're joining allies nationwide in hosting public events April 18-24. Check out this interactive map to find an event near you -- or sign up to host your own.

Also sign up to join our Thunderclap and change your Facebook profile image. Tag your posts and photos with the hashtag #ProtectPublicLands, and check out our new webpage on threats facing public lands.

EPA Study: 97 Percent of Endangered Species at Risk From Pesticides

PoisonA settlement with the Center pushed the Environmental Protection Agency last week to release a far-reaching study -- the first rigorous nationwide analysis of the effects of pesticides on endangered species. The resulting news was dire but didn't surprise us: 97 percent of the nation's 1,700 protected endangered species are likely to be hurt by two common pesticides, malathion and chlorpyrifos. Another 79 percent are likely to be hurt by a third toxin, diazinon.

"For the first time in history, we finally have data showing just how catastrophically bad these pesticides are for endangered species -- from birds and frogs to fish and plants," said the Center's Lori Ann Burd. "The EPA has allowed chemical companies to register more than 16,000 pesticides without properly considering their impacts. We need to take this new information and create common-sense measures to protect plants, animals and people from these chemicals."

This week's study is the first in a series the EPA must complete under its settlement with the Center.

Read more in The Guardian and then read Lori Ann's piece on this in Medium.

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U.S. Green Sea Turtles Recovering

Green sea turtleHappy news for U.S. green sea turtles in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans: Their recovery has prompted the National Marine Fisheries Service and Fish and Wildlife Service to downgrade the animals' status from "endangered" to "threatened."

The agencies emphasized that growing threats from climate change and sea-level rise mean that sea turtles remain at risk and continue to need the Endangered Species Act's protections. Also, while the powerful protections of the Act have helped U.S. green sea turtles, populations in the Mediterranean, South Pacific and western Pacific -- which don't benefit from those protections -- continue to struggle and are still in danger of extinction.

"The undeniable recovery of most green sea turtle populations creates a hopeful spot in our changing oceans," said the Center's Catherine Kilduff. "Sea turtles capture our imaginations, improbably crossing oceans for most of their lives before loyally coming ashore to build nests on the beach. The knowledge that green sea turtles can overcome illegal harvest, plastic pollution and warming waters testifies to their resilience."

Read more in Discovery News.

Lawsuit Targets Failure to Curb Airplane Carbon Pollution

AirplaneThe Center and allies sued the EPA this week for a nearly decade-long failure to set emission standards that curb greenhouse gas pollution from the nation's aircraft fleet. Our suit seeks to compel the agency to complete the long-stalled rulemaking process for airplane climate pollution.

Airplanes are one of the fastest-growing carbon emissions sources, projected to triple by 2050 without regulations -- spewing out some 43 gigatons of planet-warming pollution during that time.

"Airplanes' skyrocketing climate pollution requires urgent action, not more foot-dragging from the Obama administration," said the Center's Vera Pardee. "The EPA has dawdled for almost a decade, even as airplane emissions are on track to spiral out of control. We can't afford more denial and delay in tackling this high-flying threat to our climate."

Read more in USA TODAY.

Two Appalachian Crayfishes Win Protection

Big Sandy crayfishIn response to a Center petition, the Fish and Wildlife Service has finalized protection for two rare Appalachian freshwater species: the Big Sandy crayfish (in eastern Kentucky, southwestern Virginia and southern West Virginia) and the Guyandotte River crayfish (found only in one southern West Virginia county). Both species are under threat from water pollution, especially due to mountaintop-removal coal mining, which dumps toxic waste directly into rivers and streams -- taking the "fresh" out of "freshwater."

Both crayfishes -- also called crawdads, crawfish and mudbugs -- have now been lost from half their historical ranges, and the Guyandotte River crayfish is one of the most endangered of its kind in America. We petitioned to protect the Big Sandy crayfish in 2010 (before the Guyandotte River crayfish was found to be a separate species from the Big Sandy).

Said the Center's Kentucky-born Senior Scientist Tierra Curry, "Protecting these crayfishes will not only ensure their survival but also help protect water quality for people."

Read more in the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

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Activist Spotlight: 9-year-old Hosts Art Sale to Benefit Center

Reyna MarshallReyna Marshall of Tucson, Ariz., is one of the Center's youngest and most active supporters. At 9 years old, she's also a notable donor, having raised almost $800 to support our work.

Reyna has loved animals, art and activism since she can remember -- so it was only natural that when she first learned about the extinction crisis, she took action using art.

In 2014, when she was only 7, she hatched a plan: Make drawings, prints and sculptures with her young friends, sell the art, and donate the proceeds to a group saving animals and plants across the globe. Under her dad Joe's counsel, she chose the Center (headquartered in her hometown) as the sale's beneficiary, which earned more than $400. This March she and her friends did it again -- calling their sale "Kids A.R.C." (short for "Art Rescuing Creatures") and raising hundreds more.

"Humans caused the problem with the environment, and we need animals and plants to survive," said Reyna. "We need to think about all life on the planet."

Read more about Reyna and other young members of Generation Wild who are helping save endangered species.

Wild & Weird: Candid Critter Camera Jamboree -- Watch Video

Critter camRemote-sensor camera monitoring helps conservationists gather critical data about wildlife without interfering in animals' natural behavior. Center staff in Tucson, Ariz., monitor cameras placed in the wilds of the American Southwest so we can better understand the habitat and movements of big carnivores like jaguars, ocelots, bears and bobcats -- along with many other species.

We regularly download data from those cameras right into our offices. What do we see? Bobcat kittens scampering by. A troop of 20 coati frolicking and foraging. A black bear using the camera as a back scratcher. A young hawk perplexed by a well-hidden rodent.

There's nothing like getting a glimpse of the sometimes goofy, always intriguing behaviors of the candid critters that cross our cameras' paths.

Watch recent video footage from our remote-sensor cameras.

Kieran Suckling

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

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Photo credits: Red wolf by Eric Heupel/Flickr; public lands image courtesy Center for Biological Diversity; poison image by Tom Magliery/Flickr; wolves by John Pitcher; green sea turtle by Brocken Inaglory/Wikimedia Commons; airplane by Jay Raz/Flickr; Big Sandy crayfish by Guenter Schuster; grizzly bear (c) Robin Silver, Center for Biological Diversity; photo courtesy Reyna Marshall; critter cam courtesy Center for Biological Diversity.

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Center for Biological Diversity
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