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Center for Biological Diversity

No. 828, May 26, 2016

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Emergency Help Sought for Dwindling Red Wolves

Red wolfRed wolves are in trouble. Since the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service abandoned efforts to recover these exceedingly rare animals, which today live only in North Carolina, their population has dropped by more than 50 percent in just two years. Now they're down to as few as 45.

That's why the Center for Biological Diversity and allies filed an emergency petition this week calling on the agency to establish additional populations of red wolves, take steps to reduce shooting deaths, and reclassify all reintroduced populations of red wolves as "essential" experimental populations so they get the protections they desperately need.

"Red wolves face the very real possibility of vanishing forever," said the Center's Brett Hartl. "Sadly the Fish and Wildlife Service seems more concerned about appeasing a small minority of anti-wildlife extremists in North Carolina than preventing the extinction of these wolves."

Read more and watch a video at Examiner.

Lawsuit: Protect Rare Cats in Arizona, Texas From Government Killers

OcelotThe Center and the Animal Welfare Institute this morning filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure that endangered ocelots aren't inadvertently killed as part of its long-running program to kill coyotes, bears, bobcats and other wildlife in Arizona and Texas.

The USDA's Wildlife Services program kills thousands of animals yearly in the two states using traps, snares and poisons. Under the Endangered Species Act, the program needs to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service to identify ways to reduce risk to ocelots from its predator-killing activities. New analysis is required because in recent years ocelots have been spotted in several additional locations in Arizona, including the Huachuca and Santa Rita mountains.

Fewer than 100 of these unique spotted cats likely exist in the United States.

"Ocelots were dragged to the brink of extinction decades ago, partly because of the government's persecution of predators," said the Center's Collette Adkins. "Now the few that remain face the same fate. The war on predators has to stop before we lose these beautiful cats forever."

Read more in our press release.

Four Turtle Species Win International Trade Protection

Common snapping turtleNew safeguards for overharvested turtles: On Monday the Fish and Wildlife Service announced it will regulate and monitor international trade of common snapping turtles and three kinds of softshell turtles -- all of which are U.S. freshwater natives. The decision responds in part to a 2011 request from the Center documenting the harms of the turtle trade.

The rule adds the turtles to Appendix III of the international wildlife treaty known as CITES. It's aimed at curbing the devastating overexploitation of these animals: About 2 million live turtles are caught in the American wild each year and shipped to Asia to be turned into food or used in folk medicine.

Trade in Appendix III species requires an export permit and documentation that the animal was acquired legally; animals must also be shipped using methods designed to prevent cruel treatment.

Get more from Mirror Daily.

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Center New York Times Op-ed: Climate Law Changing the World

Smokestacks"Litigation has always been an essential tool for solving social problems," said the Center's Climate Law Institute Director Kassie Siegel in a recent New York Times piece. And climate change may now be the biggest social problem in the world.

The Center has seen legal win after legal win in our fight to stem the climate crisis, from our coalition's victory classifying CO
2 as an "air pollutant" under the Clean Air Act to the famous victory earning protection for polar bears -- which forced even the Bush administration to sit up and take notice of global warming's effects.

As Kassie wrote, legal action will continue to make a crucial difference, as evidenced by a recent major climate win: Thanks to a group led by four East Coast teenagers (and yes, some lawyers), the Massachusetts Supreme Court has just upheld a rule that the state didn't follow its own law aggressively restricting greenhouse gas emissions.

"Some say many of these legal efforts are unlikely to succeed," wrote Kassie. "I am far more optimistic."

Read the New York Times piece.

Jaguar in Tucson Is Latest Endangered Species Mural

Jaguar mural unveilingVisitors to downtown Tucson, Ariz., are now greeted with an iconic piece of art: A stunning 20-foot-long jaguar portrait. It's the latest in our Endangered Species Mural project, which is putting up art in public spaces around the country featuring animals struggling to survive. The new jaguar mural honors El Jefe, the only known wild jaguar living in the United States (last recorded on video about 30 miles from Tucson's downtown).

The Center held a party to celebrate the mural, with mariachis, good beer, food, and speeches by artist Kati Astraeir and our own Randy Serraglio. We'll keep fighting to save El Jefe, and all jaguars that follow in his footsteps, from harm -- including the Rosemont copper mine, planned for the heart of El Jefe's home territory.

We're excited to see this newest mural completed. The others are in Minneapolis; Sandpoint, Idaho; Butte, Mont.; Birmingham, Ala.; and Los Angeles.

Check out this video of the jaguar mural celebration and learn more about the mural project.

Support the Center's Work With a Matched Donation Today

Key deerOff the Pacific coast, sea otters have helped save kelp forests. Wolves have brought back biodiversity in Yellowstone, songbirds are helping protect Austin's drinking water, Atlantic salmon are reinvigorating Maine's Penobscot River, and Key deer are helping preserve the Florida Keys. Across America, when we save wildlife we save wilderness -- and create healthy habitat for all living things.

You can play a crucial role in that lifesaving work. Right now, if you donate to the Center's Wildlife and Wildlands Defense Fund, a committed champion of the wild will match your donation dollar for dollar. Give before May 31 to double the impact of your donation and help us save the species that save the world.

Donate today.

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Key Citizen Science Program Loses Funding -- Take Action

Spring peeperThe rhythmic sound of frogs chorusing is a beautiful thing -- a reminder that wildlife's all around us. To citizen scientists across the country, these serenades are also a source of important information used to assess the health of frogs and the places they live.

For years the U.S. Geological Survey has run the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program, a project that trains enthusiasts to get out in the field, identify frog calls, and submit scientific data to a central website. These volunteers have gathered vital information used to study and document the status of frogs across the country.

Sadly the agency had to shutter the program in 2016 due to insufficient funds from Congress -- halting years of research and damaging state conservation efforts. Please don't let this innovative program end. Tell Congress to restore funding now.

Suit Launched to Stop Highway Threatening Rare Texas Critters

Golden-cheeked warblerThe Center and allies have filed a notice of intent to sue Texas for approving a major highway-expansion project in Austin without properly assessing its effects on three federally protected species: the Barton Springs salamander, Austin blind salamander and golden-cheeked warbler.

The construction of the MoPac Intersections Project -- slated for the environmentally sensitive Edwards Aquifer region in Central Texas -- is likely to harm the two salamanders (each of which live only in the immediate area), as well as the tiny, strikingly colored golden-cheeked warbler, which nests only in the area's juniper-oak woodlands. Yet the Texas Department of Transportation did only a cursory environmental review of the project and flouted legal requirements to discuss it with federal biologists.

"Unchecked sprawl and transportation projects have already helped push these unique endangered species toward extinction," said the Center's Jenny Loda. "This project is only going to accelerate their demise."

Read more in the Austin Monitor.

Wild & Weird: Arctic Foxes With Green Thumbs?

Arctic foxArctic foxes range throughout the circumpolar Arctic -- Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Scandinavia and Russia -- where the wintertime white of the blistery tundra blends almost seamlessly with sky. Temperatures drop into double-digit negatives, and these foxes, along with their pups, survive by hiding out in dens deep underground, some of which are centuries old.

During the long winter, the foxes deposit high levels of nutrients around the den -- urine and feces atop the leftover carcasses of prey. When the weather warms, the deposits work as a fertilizer, feeding a lush explosion of grasses, willows and wildflowers. In an otherwise gray expanse, the dens stand out like garden oases.

A team of scientists recently published a pioneering study on Arctic fox dens finding that they support nearly three times as much botanical biomass over the summer as the rest of the tundra. The amazing richness of plant diversity engineered by the foxes provides forage for caribou and other herbivores during the short summer months.

Read more in National Geographic.

Kieran Suckling

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

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Photo credits: Red wolf by Amelia Beadish/Flickr; ocelot by Debs/Flickr; common snapping turtle by Jen Goellnitz/Flickr; wolves by John Pitcher; smokestacks by John Bennett/Flickr; jaguar mural unveiling video by Center for Biological Diversity; spring peeper by Dave Huth/Flickr; grizzly bear (c) Robin Silver; Key deer by Alan Wolf/Flickr; golden-cheeked warbler by Nicholas Pederson/Flickr; Arctic fox by Will Brown/Flickr.

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