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Center for Biological Diversity

No. 834, July 7, 2016

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Suit Launched to Protect Only Known U.S. Jaguar From Copper Mine

El JefeEl Jefe, America's only known wild jaguar, is at increased risk after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's April decision to allow the proposed Rosemont Copper Mine in southern Arizona to harm or kill him and destroy his home -- so last week the Center for Biological Diversity filed notice of intent to sue to overturn that decision.

The Rosemont mine would blast a mile-wide, 3,000-foot-deep pit in the heart of El Jefe's home territory, burying thousands of acres of public land in more than a billion tons of toxic mine waste and destroying springs and creeks that are critically important to jaguars and other protected species. The Service's own scientists concluded that the mine shouldn't be permitted -- but the agency steamrolled those findings.

"With a glut of copper on the global market and the industry in a free fall, there's no rational argument for this mine," said Randy Serraglio with the Center. "In the 21st century, southern Arizona's economy is driven by scenic vistas, outdoor recreation and the thrill of visiting places where jaguars and an amazing diversity of other plants and animals live."

Read more in the Silver City Sun-News.

Monarch Butterfly Finally Slated for Protection Decision

Monarch butterflyThanks to a settlement with the Center and our allies at Center for Food Safety, the Fish and Wildlife Service now must decide whether to protect imperiled monarch butterflies under the Endangered Species Act by June 2019. We petitioned to protect monarchs in 2014 after the population plunged precipitously -- over the past two decades, these once-common backyard beauties have declined by 80 percent.

During that time, it's estimated, monarchs may have lost more than 165 million acres of summer habitat as the milkweed their caterpillars depend on was wiped out by widespread use of the pesticide Roundup. In addition, monarchs' overwintering habitat in Mexico is threatened by logging and a mine proposal, and their already low population was hit hard by a winter storm in March that killed millions.

"The monarch's future is bleaker today than ever before," said the Center's Tierra Curry. "Endangered Species Act protection can't come soon enough for this beautiful but beleaguered butterfly."

Read more in The San Bernardino County Sun.

Newly Obtained Documents Reveal 1,200 Fracks in the Gulf of Mexico

Gulf of Mexico frack site mapThe Center has obtained documents showing that the feds authorized more than 1,200 offshore fracks in the Gulf of Mexico from 2010 to 2014 -- and allowed dumping of more than 76 billion gallons of waste fluid into Gulf waters in 2014.

Even worse, the documents reveal, this dirty work was given the go-ahead without public involvement or site-specific analyses of threats to imperiled species and the environment. And tragically, many of these fracking projects took place in critical habitat for imperiled loggerhead sea turtles.

More documents regarding Gulf fracks have yet to emerge -- and when they do, they'll likely show that the full scope of this offshore fracking is even larger than we currently know. "The federal government has no right to give the oil industry free rein to frack our oceans while keeping coastal communities in the dark about this toxic industrial activity," said Kristen Monsell, a Center attorney.

Read more in our press release.

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Hawaiian Seabirds at Risk From Bright Lights of Kokee Air Force Base

Hawaiian petrelNewell's shearwaters and Hawaiian petrels are Hawaiian seabirds protected under the Endangered Species Act -- but over the past two years, more than 120 of them have been hurt or killed by artificial lighting at Kauai's Kokee Air Force Base. The lights disorient the birds, causing them to crash right into the lights or onto the ground; once grounded, the birds can easily be killed by nonnative predators like cats and pigs.

So last week the Center sent a formal notice of intent to sue the U.S. Department of Defense over the harms the base is doing to the birds.

"Kokee Air Force Base has become a very dangerous place for these two imperiled seabirds -- it's got to stop," said Brett Hartl, our endangered species policy director. "The base's slow response and careless actions have significantly set back the recovery of these two species. They need immediate action to permanently protect them from this unnecessary risk."

Learn more from Hawaii Public Radio.

Study: Fossil Fuels Already Leased on Public Lands Will Last Past Safe Use

Power plantA new analysis commissioned by the Center and allies finds that -- at the world's current rate of global emissions -- coal, oil and gas that are already under lease to be mined on U.S. public lands and oceans will last 25–39 years, far beyond the thresholds set by the global Paris agreement on climate change.

These findings strongly support the growing national "Keep It in the Ground" movement, in which the Center and hundreds of other organizations are calling on President Obama to immediately halt new federal fossil fuel leasing. This step will keep up to 450 billion tons of potential carbon pollution in the ground and out of the atmosphere.

"Future generations will live with the impact of decisions made by today's leaders," said the Center's Randi Spivak. "The president can still protect his legacy -- and the planet -- by halting more public fossil fuel leases now."

Check out our press release and read the report, Over-Leased: How Production Horizons of Already Leased Federal Fossil Fuels Outlast Global Carbon Budgets.

Endangered Mussel Mural Makes a Splash in Tennessee

Pink mucket mural by Roger PeetPink mucket pearly mussels and Cumberland combshells have long been a critical part of freshwater ecosystems in the Southeast. They're fascinating creatures: Mussels use a lure to trick host fish to swim near, then eject their larvae onto the fish's gills, where they clamp on till they grow their own shells. But these freshwater mollusks are now endangered due to dams, erosion, pollution and other threats. And they haven't been helped by the fact that so few people living nearby know of their existence.

That's changing thanks to the Center's Endangered Species Mural Project, which just travelled to Tennessee, a world hotspot for freshwater biodiversity. Our latest mural portrays the species' unique beauty in a (much) larger-than-life painting along a 200-foot wall on a beautiful bike path near the University of Tennessee.

Watch this video from Knoxville's WBIR News and then learn more about our Endangered Species Mural Project.

Take Action

Looking for Summer Reading? Check Out Our Membership Newsletter

Center newsletterWe're happy to share the summer 2016 issue of Endangered Earth, the Center's print newsletter, on our website for easy viewing. This issue covers some great recent victories, including a court ruling upholding protection of 120 million acres for polar bears, plus three new national monuments designated in California. Also read about the latest action in the national "Keep It in the Ground" campaign and a new Endangered Species Mural Project piece depicting the only recently confirmed jaguar in the United States, called El Jefe, who was caught on video by the Center and Conservation CATalyst.

Each print newsletter includes pieces written by the staff closest to highlighted campaigns, plus a message from our executive director. We make our members-only print newsletter available to our online supporters as a thank-you for taking action -- but please consider becoming a member today and helping us even more. Simply call us toll free at 1-866-357-3349 x 311 or visit our support webpage to learn more and make a gift.

Read the summer 2016 issue now.

Wild & Weird: Sand Bubbler Crabs and the Art of Hunting -- Watch Video

Sand bubbler crabMeasuring just half an inch across, sand bubbler crabs are adorable yet voracious hunters with a highly specialized technique. They hunt for meiofauna -- tiny invertebrates measured in micrometers -- by rapidly scooping up sand with their pinchers and removing the tasty critters from the grains with their mouths. In the process they form balls of sand, which they then discard (as many as 12 balls per minute) across the beach. Working quickly to maximize snacking, a single sand bubbler can produce an extraordinary 3,000 balls before the tides take back the beach.

People wandering the shorelines where bubblers live are often baffled by the sight of so many small, nearly uniform balls of sand, apparently delicately placed into designs. Surely, they think, this is the work of some eccentric artist making a statement about, you know. Something.

Watch our video of sand bubbler crabs hunting meiofauna and marvel at the sand balls.

Kieran Suckling

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

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Photo credits: El Jefe courtesy Conservation CATalyst and the Center for Biological Diversity; monarch butterfly by jennifernish/Flickr; Gulf of Mexico fracking map by Curt Bradley, Center for Biological Diversity; Hawaiian petrel courtesy Jim Denny/NPS; power plant by eflon/Flickr; pink mucket mural by Roger Peet, courtesy Center for Biological Diversity; Center newsletter; still of sand bubbler video by Stretta/Vimeo.

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