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Center for Biological Diversity

No. 838, Aug. 4, 2016

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Two New Litters of Wolf Pups Confirmed in Oregon

Rogue pack wolf pupsOregon wolves have been gripped by pup fever.

Wildlife officials just released photos confirming that Oregon's famous wolf "OR-7" -- who founded the Rogue pack in the Oregon portion of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest near the Oregon-California border -- has fathered his third litter of pups since the pack's establishment in 2014.

And it just so happens that the Rogue pack's neighbors in nearby Lake County -- a pair known as the Silver Lake wolves -- have also produced pups. The female of this pair is known to have dispersed westward from the Mount Emily pack, and the male wolf, OR-3, was born into the Imnaha pack and is OR-7's brother. This means Oregon's wolf population has reached the triple digits.

"It's incredibly exciting that Oregon's wolves are starting to find their way back to places this remarkable species once called home," said the Center for Biological Diversity's Amaroq Weiss. "This tells us how important it is to keep wildlands available for continued safe passage, and to keep legal protections in place for wolves."

See photos and read more in The Oregonian.

A Break for El Jefe: Army Corps Recommends Mine Permit Denial

El JefeEl Jefe, the only known wild jaguar in the United States, just caught a break: The Army Corps of Engineers' Los Angeles regional office recommended denial of an essential permit for the proposed Rosemont copper mine in southern Arizona.

The denial recommendation, made last week, has been forwarded to the Corps' San Francisco office, which has said it will issue a final decision within six months. The massive open-pit copper mine would destroy thousands of acres of public land in the heart of El Jefe's home territory, but it can't proceed without a Clean Water Act permit that Rosemont is seeking. The Center has been fighting against the mine for almost a decade -- and for jaguars for 22 years.

"The record is clear: The Rosemont mine would pollute Arizona's air, drain its water supply, and do tremendous damage to its wildlife and wild places," said the Center's Randy Serraglio. "The Corps has apparently concluded what we've known all along -- that this mine is simply not in the public interest."

Read more in the Arizona Daily Star.

3.7 Million Acres Protected for Pacific Northwest Seabird

Marbeled murreletThe U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Wednesday finalized protections on nearly 3.7 million acres of critical habitat in Washington, Oregon and California for the marbled murrelet, a coastal bird unique to the Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately the final designation failed to protect old-growth forests on state and private lands or marine areas, all of which were called for by scientists and conservation groups, including the Center.

Marbled murrelets are shy, robin-sized seabirds that feed at sea but nest only in old-growth forests along the Pacific Coast. They have continued to decline since they were protected under the Endangered Species Act more than two decades ago because of ongoing logging of their habitat and increasingly poor ocean conditions.

"These protections simply don't go far enough," said our Endangered Species Director Noah Greenwald. "To save the marbled murrelet we need to protect all of its remaining old-growth forest habitat in Oregon, Washington and California, as well as the near-shore areas it needs for feeding."

Read more in our press release.

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Americans Call for End of Federal Coal Program

Coal mineBold action on climate is needed now -- so the Center and other groups have called on President Obama to permanently end the federal coal program. Ending leasing and mining of public-lands coal in the United States would keep up to 212 billion metric tons of carbon pollution in the ground -- equal to taking 45 billion cars off the road for one year and saving society more than $7 trillion in avoided climate damages.

More than 40 percent of all coal produced in the United States comes from publicly owned reserves -- mostly in the American West -- that are leased out to private companies and managed by the Interior Department. When mined and burned, this coal is responsible for more than 10 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Last year scientists reported that to rein in global temperature increases, more than 90 percent of all U.S. coal reserves need to remain untouched.

"There's no reasonable path to avoiding the worst effects of climate change without the phase-out of coal mining and combustion," said the Center's Michael Saul. "It's time for the Department of the Interior to start being honest with itself and American communities and shift policies for a clean and sustainable future."

Read more in our press release.

Iowa Moves to Rein in Turtle Trapping

Painted turtleA win for wild turtles: Iowa wildlife officials have proposed to restrict collection and killing of four species of wild turtles: common snapping turtles, painted turtles, spiny softshells and smooth softshells. If finalized the rules would impose seasons, daily bag limits and possession limits for the animals, which are under tremendous pressure from overcollection for the export market to Asia, where they're killed for food and medicine. More than 3 million wild-caught, live turtles are exported from the United States each year to feed Asian markets.

Right now Iowa allows year-round commercial collection of the four turtle species without any daily bag or possession limits. The proposed regulations protect them during their peak mating season by prohibiting commercial collection prior to July 1. But year-round recreational collection of common snappers is still allowed.

"The new proposals are a welcome step," said Collette Adkins, a senior attorney at the Center, which in 2009 sought a ban on commercial turtle collecting in the state. "But a complete ban on commercial trapping is needed."

Read more in the Miami Herald.

New Lawsuit Filed to Save Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout

Rio Grande cutthroat troutIn response to a Center petition and two lawsuits, the Fish and Wildlife Service determined in 2008 that a rare southwestern trout, the Rio Grande cutthroat, deserved Endangered Species Act protection. The cutthroat is threatened by habitat loss, nonnative trout and climate change. But in 2014 the Service reversed course and denied it that protection.

Well, we've been fighting for this fish for two decades -- and we're not giving up. We sued the Service again last week over its denial of protection to the trout, which now survives in only 11 percent of its ancient home range in tiny headwater streams of the Rio Grande, Pecos and Canadian rivers in Colorado and New Mexico. Last week's lawsuit challenges a new Fish and Wildlife policy of disregarding species' historic ranges and instead assessing species' viability only within their current range -- regardless of how diminished those ranges are from historic levels.

"Congress decided imperiled wildlife should be afforded legal and practical protection before they're reduced to the point of looming extinction," said the Center's Michael Robinson. "What a travesty that we now have to file suit to get the government to protect the Rio Grande cutthroat trout when it's already gone from almost all its historic range."

Read more in the Albuquerque Journal.

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Earth Overshoot Day Is Coming -- Are You Ready?

Earth Overshoot Day Center videoYou may not feel it, but sometime on Monday our planet will pass a critical threshold: the moment when we've used all the natural resources the planet can replenish in a year. It's got the catchy name of "Earth Overshoot Day," but put away those streamers and party hats. The last thing we want to do is celebrate the reality that everything else we use for the rest of the year is a debt we're leaving for our planet and future generations.

That doesn't mean we should despair, though: Let's use the day as a moment for action and awareness. This week the Center's Population and Sustainability team is posting a series of pieces on our Medium page about what our planetary budget means for food systems, energy resources, water, and population growth. Each article includes tips on what you can do to help rewrite the Earth's budget, starting with what you do in bed, what you put on your plate, and how you use your voice in our political system.

Check out the Medium pieces here, here and here, and watch this video from the Center's Leigh Moyer about what it all means.

Petition Calls on EPA to Force Data Disclosure on 'Synergistic' Pesticides

SignFollowing the Center's study showing that more than two-thirds of pesticide products approved for four major companies are dangerously "synergistic" -- that is, contain mixtures of two or more pesticides that together are even more poisonous to some plants or animals than they would be on their own -- we petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to require those companies to release information on their products' synergistic effects when seeking EPA approval.

The EPA has approved more than 100 of these products from the four big pesticide companies (Bayer, Dow, Monsanto and Syngenta) in the past six years without accounting for their dangers.

"The pesticide industry has been gaming the system for too long, saying one thing to the U.S. Patent Office and another to the EPA," said the Center's Lori Ann Burd. "Our request is simple and just makes good common sense: The EPA needs to require pesticide companies to give it the information it needs to determine whether these pesticides are safe for use on our food and lawns."

Read more in our press release.

Wild & Weird: The 4-billion-year-old Microbe That Unites Us All

BacteriumIt's a crazy election season out there, and we're all being exposed to excessive levels of vitriol. But buried in the constant news coverage of acrimonious Twitter battles and cheap shots, you may have missed a remarkable item that speaks to unity rather than difference: A massive genome analysis conducted by a team of scientists has resulted in a solid description of LUCA, the Last Universal Common Ancestor of all creatures living on Earth today.

Our distinguished common ancestor, according to the study, was most likely a hydrogen-gobbling, single-celled organism -- similar to bacteria -- that lived in the hard-knock environment of deep-sea thermal vents. This microbial Eve, as some have described LUCA, may well be the progenitor -- the unifying mother -- of all plants, animals, fungi, protists, eubacteria and archaebacteria (not to mention Democrats, Republicans and Bernie-or-Busters).

The new hypothesis is causing a bit of a stir in the scientific community. Darwin's belief that life began in "warm little ponds" on land doesn't jibe with the idea that it may have developed in more extreme environs like the flanks of deep-sea volcanoes. Sadly, life-origin Twitter battles aren't likely to dominate the news cycle anytime soon.

Read more in The New York Times.

Kieran Suckling

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

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Photo credits: Rogue pack wolf pups courtesy ODFW; El Jefe courtesy UA/USFWS; marbled murrelet courtesy Rich MacIntosh/USGS; wolves by John Pitcher; coal mine by Parolan Harahap/Flickr; Rio Grande cutthroat trout courtesy Lloyde Hazzard/USFWS; painted turtle by Dmitry Mozzherin/Flickr; brown bear (c) Robin Silver, Center for Biological Diversity; pesticide sign by Dauvit Alexander/Flickr; Earth Overshoot day video still courtesy Center for Biological Diversity; bacterium by Allon Weiner/Wikimedia.

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