Ash-throated flycatcher, Santa Barbara County
Center for     Biological     Diversity   

Plan Overturned to Open 1 Million Acres to Drilling, Fracking

A big win in California: A federal judge on Tuesday overturned a federal plan to open more than 1 million acres of public land and mineral estate in central California to drilling and fracking. The ruling came in response to a lawsuit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies.

Citing threats to water supplies and endangered species, the court ruled that the Bureau of Land Management had failed to analyze the risks of fracking and other fossil fuel extraction techniques when preparing a plan that would have allowed drilling on vast stretches of land.

"This is a huge victory in the fight to protect our water and wildlife from fracking pollution and dangerous drilling," said the Center's Brendan Cummings. "Rather than try to correct their legal mistakes, the Obama administration now needs to do what climate science and common sense dictate: Put a permanent end to leasing oil, gas and coal from our public lands."

Read more in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Savannah elephants

Survey Reveals Emergency for Africa's Savannah Elephants

The "Great Elephant Census" has some dreadful news: Savannah elephants -- genetically distinct from forest elephants (already known to be in steep decline) -- are frighteningly worse off than we thought. This mega-survey documents a 30 percent decline in savannah elephants over seven years, attributed largely to poaching for ivory. African elephants are also threatened by habitat loss and human encroachment and conflict.

It's now estimated that only 352,271 savannah elephants remain, compared to estimates of up to 650,000 made in 2013. Surveys of elephant carcasses suggest their deaths likely exceeded births -- a dire situation.

"These results are shocking," said the Center's Tanya Sanerib. "A world without elephants would be a very sad place -- it's time for international action."

Read more in our press release.

Dakota Access Pipeline Opposition

Standing in Solidarity Against Dakota Oil Pipeline

Kierán Suckling, the Center's executive director, released this statement today in support of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in its fight to stop the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline and preserve its land and culture:

"The Center for Biological Diversity stands in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and more than 150 American Indian nations opposing construction of the dangerous, unnecessary and monumentally disrespectful Dakota Access Oil Pipeline. The pipeline will worsen global warming; desecrate sacred lands essential to the Sioux Nation's history, culture and identity; and threaten the water supply of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.

"Respecting the diversity of the Earth's cultures and people is intrinsically connected to protecting its plants and animals. Ending the extinction, climate change and cultural oppression crises requires recognition and respect for the rights and unique cultures of indigenous peoples. In the United States and globally, they disproportionately suffer the land, air and water pollution costs of oil, gas, coal and uranium mining and transportation. This must end."

Read Kierán's full statement and then sign our petition to stand in solidarity in this crucial fight.

$20,000 Reward Offered for Justice Against Sea Otter Killers

Sea otter

After four sea otters were found dead on the California coast -- at least three were shot and killed for no apparent reason -- the Center added $10,000 to authorities' existing $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the shooter(s).

West Coast sea otters were once hunted to near extinction for their pelts; today they're protected, and their killing is punishable by a heavy fine plus jail time.

"Shooting sea otters is a despicable act of cruelty and ignorance," said the Center's Miyoko Sakashita. Read more in the Los Angeles Times.


Study: Killing Predators Does Not Truly Cut Livestock Losses

Killing predators like wolves, mountain lions and bears to protect livestock may appeal to cattle owners, but a new, rigorous review of multiple studies shows little or no scientific support that it actually reduces livestock losses. Sometimes it even leads to increased losses.

This highlights the folly in the common practice of killing predators in response to livestock depredations -- as carried out by the secretive federal program Wildlife Services and many state game agencies.

"This study shows that not only is Wildlife Services' annual killing of tens of thousands of wolves, coyotes, bears, bobcats, cougars and other animals unconscionable -- it's also ineffective," said the Center's Michael Robinson. "Our government should ground the aerial snipers, pull the poisons and remove the steel leghold traps in response to these findings."

Read more in our press release.

Court Slaps Down Highway-widening Project in California

Red-legged frog

A federal judge has put the brakes on a highway-widening project in California that threatens wildlife like San Francisco garter snakes and California red-legged frogs.

The decision follows a legal challenge by the Center and allies who are fighting plans to widen Highway 1 in Pacifica, Calif. The judge said California's transportation department violated the Endangered Species Act in approving the controversial project.

"We're hoping the agency gets the message that the community doesn't want or need this wasteful and damaging highway-widening project," said the Center's Jeff Miller.

Read more in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Kristen Monsell

"The fact that we can see humpback whales breaching and feeding in the ocean after they were nearly wiped out shows the power of the Endangered Species Act. Those protections should stay in place for these amazing animals."

— Center attorney Kristen Monsell on the change in legal status of humpback whales. Read more.

Ready to Save the Weirdos? Check Out New Medium Feature

Save the Weirdos logo

The Center defends many well-known, beloved species, from wolves to monarchs -- but what about those that don't get much love, yet are critical to biodiversity?

The Center is fighting for the world's lovable oddballs, and celebrating them with a new feature on Medium called Save the Weirdos.

First up: hellbenders. These salamanders with the cool name (and nicknames -- hello, "lasagna sides"!) also have breathable skin covered in slime.

Read more about hellbenders and follow us on Medium.

Keep It In the Ground demonstration

Call to Keep Fossil Fuels in the Ground in New Mexico

At a Bureau of Land Management lease sale Friday, New Mexicans rallied to urge President Obama to defend the climate and American lands by ending new leasing of federal oil and gas. The Center and partners had challenged the sale, which the BLM had abruptly postponed and relocated after public protests early this summer. The agency offered drilling and fracking rights on nearly 14,000 acres of southeastern New Mexico.

Since taking office the Obama administration has leased more than 10 million acres of American public lands to Big Oil and Gas, often for as little as $1.50 per acre.

"Each new federal fossil fuel lease pushes us toward more droughts, floods, fires and climate calamity," said the Center's Taylor McKinnon. "We need to keep public fossil fuels in the ground."

Read more in our press release.

Desert rainfrog

Wild & Weird: The Cutest War Cry Ever

Ask a child which African beast has the fiercest roar, and they're likely to pin the prize on the lion. Then show them our new video of the African rain frog, a peculiar little herp that lives most of its day burrowed into the cool sand along the coast between Namibia and South Africa, and ask them again.

They may decide that, pound for pound, the African rain frog roars most boldly -- or at least most adorably.

Watch our new video of the African rain frog on Facebook or YouTube.

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Photo credits: Ash-throated flycatcher photographed in Santa Barbara County by sfitzgerald86/Flickr; African savannah elephants by Stuart Price/Make It Kenya; Dakota Access Pipeline opposition by Joe Brusky/Flickr; sea otter by pling/Flickr; wolves by osilpensatore/Flickr; California red-legged frog courtesy Gary M. Fellers/USGS; Kristen Monsell staff photo; Save the Weirdos logo courtesy Center for Biological Diversity; Keep It in the Ground rally by Christian O'Rourke/Flickr; desert rain frog by Dean Boshoff.

Center for Biological Diversity
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Tucson, AZ 85702