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Center for Biological Diversity

No. 823, April 21, 2016

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Rare Cats Saved From Hunting and Trapping in New Hampshire

BobcatIn response to outcry from the Center for Biological Diversity, Animal Welfare Institute and partners -- including local groups and thousands of state residents -- New Hampshire's Game and Fish Department has cancelled its planned bobcat hunting and trapping seasons. They would have been the state's first such seasons since 1989, when New Hampshire protected bobcats from the hunting and trapping that had driven their population down to only 200 animals.

Bobcats aren't the only wild felines at stake here: Canada lynx, protected as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act, could be mistakenly shot or ensnared by bobcat hunters and trappers. Under the state's proposed rule to allow the hunting and trapping seasons to move forward, hunters would've been allowed to chase bobcats with hounds; trappers could've legally set unlimited numbers of indiscriminate traps.

"We're so relieved the Game and Fish Department listened to our concerns, and that New Hampshire's bobcats and lynx are safe from hunters and trappers for yet another year," said the Center's Collette Adkins.

Read more in The Keene Sentinel.

Celebrate Public Lands With Us for Earth Week

Tongass National ForestAmerica's public lands are under attack, in Congress and elsewhere, by interests that want to see them logged, drilled, mined, bulldozed and developed. Politicians in Washington, D.C., and state legislatures across the nation have proposed bills designed to hand over our public lands to the states or private developers. Their goal is simple: Strip public lands of protection and turn them over for private exploitation. We can't let that happen.

So to celebrate Earth Week and our extraordinary public lands, Center staff are leading hikes and other outdoor activities in or near St. Petersburg, Fla. (April 22); Tucson, Ariz. (April 23); Ashland and Portland, Ore. (April 24); and Pacific Palisades and Oakland, Calif. (April 24 and 28). Look for an event near you on this nationwide interactive map and RSVP -- or sign up to host your own.

You can also help by watching and sharing this video of threats facing public lands, signing up to join our Thunderclap, and signing this petition to keep public lands in public hands.

Imperiled Gulf Fish One Step Closer to Protection

Alabama shad illustrationThe Alabama shad -- a large, silvery fish that lives partly in the Gulf of Mexico and swims up Southeast streams to spawn -- occupies just a tiny fraction of its historic habitat in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Indiana and Iowa. Its numbers are dwindling because of dams, dredging and water pollution. The shad has languished for decades without federal protection despite being named a "candidate" for that protection back in 1997.

Luckily for the at-risk fish, the Center last week reached a settlement with the National Marine Fisheries Service that will force the agency to decide whether the shad warrants protection by this June. (In 2013 the agency declared that the species may deserve protection, but it's more than a year late in taking the next legal step toward that goal.)

"There's still time to recover this oceangoing fish in its historic Southeast habitat," said the Center's Jaclyn Lopez. "Endangered Species Act protection will help guide restoration efforts that will help the shad rebound."

Read more in our press release.

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EPA Tightens Rules to Save Our Skies

Los Angeles smogPrompted by a legal threat from the Center, the Environmental Protection Agency has made it official: Seventeen states -- plus Washington, D.C. -- have failed to achieve ozone air-quality standards more than 8 years after the EPA tightened rules to reduce smog threatening public health, wildlife and ecosystems.

This federal decree triggers stricter standards for emissions and reporting in order to clean up unhealthy skies. The areas receiving a failing grade include six California counties; the greater metro areas of Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Houston, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh and St. Louis; the city of Sheboygan, Wis.; and the entire state of Connecticut.

"Ozone silently attacks our lungs, needlessly increasing emergency room visits and deaths for the children and elderly who are the most vulnerable to air pollution," said Jonathan Evans, environmental health legal director at the Center. "The Clean Air Act saves lives, protects wildlife and clears up smoggy skies, but only when polluters are forced to clean up their act."

Read more in our press release.

Protest Filed Over Fossil Fuels Auction on 75,000 Nevada Acres

NevadaThe Center and allies have filed a formal protest against a federal plan to auction off nearly 75,000 acres in Nevada's Lander and Nye counties, which hold fossil fuels containing an estimated 419,983 tons of potential greenhouse gas pollution. In approving the auction, the Bureau of Land Management failed to analyze its likely effect on local resources, including sensitive wildlife populations and habitat -- not to mention climate change.

"Every new federal fossil fuel lease entails a number of serious concerns, such as water depletion and contamination, and contributes to the already looming climate crisis," said the Center's My-Linh Le. As our protest outlines, the BLM should end all new federal fossil fuel leasing, as well as ban fracking and other unconventional well-stimulation activities.

This is the latest action in the nationwide "Keep It in the Ground" campaign, which calls on President Obama to halt new federal fossil fuel leases on public lands and oceans -- thus keeping up to 450 billion tons of potential carbon pollution out of the atmosphere.

Read more in our press release.

Tell Obama: Declare Climate Emergency, Ban Oil Exports -- Take Action

President ObamaAs the Obama administration prepares to sign the historic Paris Agreement in New York tomorrow, let's urge the president to take real climate action by declaring a national emergency and banning all U.S. crude oil exports. That's what the Center and more than 350 other groups have done in a legal petition sent to President Obama yesterday. Now you can join us by signing a citizen's petition, too.

The president must halt crude exports to give us a fighting chance to meet the Paris Agreement's crucial goal of limiting global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. Halting U.S. oil exports could prevent up to 500 million tons of greenhouse emissions -- the pollution equivalent of more than 135 coal-fired power plants -- from entering our atmosphere. And stopping these exports, of course, would mean that people across the country could breathe easier. Right now towns near fracking rigs face a litany of harms: air pollution, water contamination, earthquakes and "bomb" trains.

Please help now by signing our petition. Urge Obama to declare what is unquestionably a national climate emergency and stop crude oil exports.

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West Coast Fisher Denied Protection in Bow to Timber Industry

FisherIn a deeply disappointing, politically motivated decision, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service denied Endangered Species Act protection to West Coast fishers last week, reversing its proposal to protect these shy, cat-like members of the weasel family.

The agency had proposed to protect the rare carnivores in October 2014, but under timber industry pressure withdrew that proposed protection on April 14 -- despite overwhelming scientific evidence that fishers are threatened by factors like logging and toxic chemicals used by marijuana growers throughout their range in California, Oregon and Washington. The once-abundant animals now survive in only two places, with 250 to a few thousand in southern Oregon and Northern California and about 300 in the southern Sierra Nevada.

"Just like with wolverines and coastal martens, once more we may be forced to head to court to defend species, science and the law from political interference," said Tanya Sanerib, a Center attorney. "Fishers may be tough enough to prey on porcupines, but they need Endangered Species Act protection to survive."

Read more in the Los Angeles Times.

Wild & Weird: The Daring Escape of Inky the Octopus

OctopusThere's something about a good jailbreak that captures the human imagination. Maybe it's the cunning derring-do of the escapee; maybe it's our own longing to break free. Add eight arms to the getaway and people really become entranced.

Recent news of the daring escape of Inky, an octopus formerly on exhibit at the National Aquarium of New Zealand, captured news media and the internet by storm. "We did not expect that much interest at all from around the world; we thought it was just a story for the locals," said Rob Yarrell, manager of the aquarium, to National Geographic in a recent interview.

Inky's escape path was easily discovered by aquarium staff: They followed his wet trail from the small opening in his enclosure, across the floor and into a narrow pipe leading to the ocean. Yarrell and his staff do not plan to pursue the tentacled absconder; they merely wished him well on his travels.

Read more about Inky's great escape at National Geographic.

Kieran Suckling

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

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Photo credits: Bobcat by Kevin H/Flickr; Tongass National Forest courtesy Darrin Kelly/USDA; Alabama shad illustration courtesy Freshwater and Marine Image Bank, University of Washington; Los Angeles smog by Robert S. Donovan/Flickr; Lander County, Nevada, by Ben Amstutz/Flickr; President Barack Obama courtesy Barack Obama/Flickr; fisher courtesy USFWS; octopus by Ray Sadler/Flickr.

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