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Center for Biological Diversity

No. 831, June 16, 2016

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Petition Aims to Protect Tricolored Bats From Disease, Habitat Loss

Tricolored batTricolored bats have declined dramatically over the past 10 years due to a deadly fungal disease called white-nose syndrome: Rangewide they've lost a third of their population, and in the Northeast the disease has killed 98 percent of tricoloreds in some areas.

These small, insect-eating bats, with fluttery flight patterns and fur of three colors, are also at risk from cave disturbances, habitat loss and wind-energy development. They need help soon. That's why the Center for Biological Diversity and allies this week petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect them under the Endangered Species Act.

"Tricolored bats are in grave trouble, and it's time the feds took action to keep them from tumbling off the cliff of extinction," said the Center's Mollie Matteson. "Among the three bats most devastated by white-nose syndrome, the tricolored has been virtually forgotten -- but that can't continue if it's to survive this disease."

Read more in our press release.

West Coast Whale Entanglements Increasing, On Track to Break Record

Humpback whaleNearly 40 reports of whales entangled in fishing gear have been recorded off the West Coast in 2016. And 2015 saw 61 reported entanglements, up from 30 confirmed in 2014. Before that, the average was around eight entanglements a year.

Some whales do end up escaping from fishing gear -- often with the help of whale-rescue teams that are now being overwhelmed -- but those that don't escape often die slow, painful deaths.

In response to the latest figures, the Center is calling on Dungeness crab fishermen to remove more fishing lines from Monterey Bay and other areas where whales, including endangered humpbacks and blues, are now feeding and being seen entangled. The Center also has urged regulators to take swift action to address the problem.

"This has become a crisis. We recognize that crabbers don't want to harm whales -- now they need to act to avoid important biological areas where whales feed," said Kristen Monsell, a Center attorney.

Read more in our press release.

$15,000 Reward Offered Over Poached Grizzly Bear in Idaho

Grizzly bearThe Center is contributing to the reward for information about the killing of a grizzly bear found dead over the weekend of June 4 in Idaho. To help bring the killer (or killers) to justice, the Center has offered a $5,000 reward, adding to $5,000 from the Fish and Wildlife Service, $5,000 from the The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust, and $600 from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game's Citizens Against Poaching program.

"The illegal killing of any wildlife is appalling," said the Center's Andrea Santarsiere. "But this particular incident is even more tragic because this bear was killed in the heart of a wildlife corridor connecting central Idaho and Yellowstone, which is important to healthy, sustainable bear populations in both areas. The Service's recent proposal to strip federal protections from Yellowstone bears makes it all but certain that other bears traveling through the Centennials will face the same fate as this bear."

The Center filed a petition with the Fish and Wildlife Service to reintroduce bears to the area in December 2014, but the Service hasn't yet produced a meaningful response.

Read more in our press release.

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Tell Gov. Brown: Stop Irrigating California Crops With Oil Wastewater

Oil derrick and cropsDid you know that California crops, which make up more than half of the nation's produce, are being grown with wastewater from toxic oilfields?

Oil companies sell treated oilfield wastewater to Central Valley farmers for irrigation of crops. Farmers are desperate for cheap water, and oil companies see nothing but dollar signs. Regulators have never conducted an independent analysis of recycled oil wastewater to determine what toxic chemicals it may contain, but an independent scientific study published last year showed that samples of treated oil waste sold to California farmers contained oil, acetone and methylene chloride -- a known carcinogen.

We must take swift action to stop Big Oil from poisoning our nation's grocery basket. Join us in asking California's Governor Brown to keep our food safe by immediately stopping the use of toxic oil wastewater to irrigate crops.

Reno Protesters to Feds: Don’t Auction Away Our Climate

Keep It In the Ground rallyCenter staff and supporters were prominent at a large rally Tuesday in Reno, Nev., where at least 150 people protested a Bureau of Land Management fossil fuel auction, calling on the Obama administration to cancel the lease sale to protect Nevada's water, communities and climate future from fracking. The protest included public speakers, songs and visual and performance-art spectacles that included a large "human oil spill."

The BLM planned to auction more than 74,000 acres of the Big Smoky Valley for fracking that could deplete and pollute water, industrialize indigenous lands and wildlife habitat, and create almost a half-million tons of greenhouse gas pollution.

The protest was part of the national "Keep It in the Ground" campaign, a rapidly growing movement calling on President Obama to halt new federal fossil fuel leases on public lands and oceans -- which would keep up to 450 billion tons of potential carbon pollution in the ground.

Read more in our press release.

Lawsuit Launched Over Protections Denied to Pacific Fishers

FisherThe Center and allies this week filed a notice of intent to sue over the Fish and Wildlife Service's decision in April to deny Endangered Species Act protection to Pacific fishers, the latest species to fall victim to the Service's efforts to cater to industry.

Closely related to martens and wolverines, fishers are severely threatened by habitat loss caused by logging and the use of toxic rodenticides on illegal marijuana-growing sites. Although the Service had recently proposed federal protections for Pacific fishers -- which have dwindled to just two populations in Oregon and California -- the agency reversed course at the last minute in a bow to the timber industry.

"Fishers are staring extinction in the face, so it's deeply disheartening to see the Service deny them the protection they need to survive," said the Center's Justin Augustine. "Science, not politics, should drive these kinds of decisions, and that didn't happen here."

Read more in The Siskiyou Daily News.

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Excited About Finding Dory? OK, But Don't Buy These Fish as Pets

Blue tangDisney/Pixar's movie Finding Dory comes out this week, and the Center and allies are urging consumers not to buy fish like Dory, a royal blue tang, or other wild-caught saltwater fish as pets for home aquariums. While many freshwater fish can be bred in captivity, most saltwater fish sold for aquariums are captured in the wild and taken from coral reefs in the Philippines and Indonesia, often through a method using cyanide -- which kills coral and other animals.

Although movies like this raise awareness about marine species, we're concerned Finding Dory might trigger a sharp rise in consumer demand for blue tangs -- with severe impacts on the species and their reef homes. There are already millions of fish brought to the United States for the pet trade each year that are captured with cyanide. The Center and allies have petitioned the Obama administration to halt the import of fish captured via cyanide poisoning.

"People can love these beautiful fish to death, and we don't want to see that happen," said the Center's Nicholas Whipps.

Read more in the Chicago Tribune and urge the Obama administration to ban imports of fish stunned with cyanide.

Wild & Weird: El Jefe's Four-legged Neighbors -- Watch Video

RingtailsEarlier this year when we released remote-sensor camera footage of El Jefe -- America's only known wild jaguar -- the big cat with muscular grace became an overnight sensation. He's roamed the mountains outside Tucson since 2011, and his species lived in the American Southwest for untold generations before extermination programs drove them to near extinction in the north.

El Jefe is unique, but he isn't the only wild and awesome critter living very near the Center's Tucson headquarters. The Sky Islands -- as the isolated mountain ranges in the Southwest are nicknamed -- boast the highest biodiversity in inland North America. A unique array of geographic, topographic and climatic influences create a bewildering variety of plants and animals here, many imperiled or found nowhere else. So while El Jefe is the star of our remote-sensor cameras, we also have footage of ringtails, javelinas, bears, cougars, Mexican opossums, deer, bobcats and two species of skunk, all of which share a home with the jaguar.

Watch footage of El Jefe's neighbors, including a cougar kitten and a bear cub.

Kieran Suckling

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

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Photo credits: tricolored bat by davidjthomas/Flickr; humpback whale by demed/Flickr; grizzly bear by petechar/Flickr; wolves by John Pitcher; oil derrick and crops by David Meyer/Flickr; Reno "Keep It in the Ground" rally photo by Kyla Whitmore, Center for Biological Diversity; fisher by guppiecat/Flickr; grizzly bear (c) Robin Silver; blue tang by Rafal Zych/Flickr; ringtails, public domain.

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