30x30: The Race to Save Life on Earth

Endangered Earth: The weekly wildlife update from the Center for Biological Diversity.
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30x30: The Race to Save Life on Earth

If we're going to stem the staggering wildlife extinction crisis, we have to protect more places. Last week President Biden signed a groundbreaking executive order directing federal officials to protect 30% of the country's lands and ocean waters by 2030.

The planet is at a tipping point, but it's not too late to create a better future. By protecting and restoring a significant percentage of our lands and waters, we can reduce extinctions, slow global warming and safeguard the natural resources we need to survive.

This 30x30 campaign is a step toward a larger lifesaving goal of conserving 50% of U.S. lands and waters by 2050. It's a bold vision, but nothing less can address the scope of the problems we now face.

Gray wolf pup

Fish and Wildlife Service Goes Rogue on Wolf Protection

Just days after President Biden ordered agencies to review the science behind key decisions made under Trump — including one stripping federal protection from wolves across the country — the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made an aggressive move.

Gary Frazer, the agency's assistant director for ecological services, sent a curt letter to conservation groups claiming the decision to remove wolf protections was valid.

"There's no way the Fish and Wildlife Service followed President Biden's directive and completed its review in just five business days," said Brett Hartl, the Center for Biological Diversity's government affairs director. "It's baffling that they went rogue by not even waiting till there was a new secretary of Interior to assess what happened under Trump. This is a slap in the face to the American public, who want scientific integrity restored to the government and to ensure that wolves are protected till they're recovered across this country."

We're in court to restore Endangered Species Act protection to gray wolves across the lower 48. Support our fights for the wild by starting a monthly donation today.

American bumblebee

Help Save These Bees

American bumblebees were once common across the United States. But over the past 20 years they've declined by 89%. Now habitat loss, pesticide use, disease and other threats are pushing them toward the brink.

The bumblebee's looming extinction isn't only heartbreaking news for these insects and their ecosystems — it's also a harbinger of massive biodiversity loss nationwide.

But we can still save these bees if they get Endangered Species Act protections, which the Center petitioned for this week.

You can help — tell the Fish and Wildlife Service to protect American bumblebees before it's too late.

Border wall

A Thankful Pause at the Border

On his first day in office, President Biden ordered a pause on border-wall construction. Contractors continued to build through a seven-day grace period, but then, last week, construction crews finally packed up and left.

We're breathing a sigh of relief, but a terrible scar remains. The Trump administration built 453 miles of wall and wreaked havoc on the borderlands. Contractors dynamited remote mountains and dammed rivers. Sacred springs were depleted to mix concrete. Habitat and migration paths for endangered species were destroyed.

It's vital that Biden make the halting of construction permanent and end these destructive contracts for good. Then his administration needs to start restoration efforts. Learn more about the work that lies ahead.

Okinawa woodpecker

Biden Administration Urged to Save 19 Species Abroad

The Center just filed a notice asking the Biden administration to save 13 birds, five butterflies and one clam found outside U.S. borders. The Fish and Wildlife Service has admitted all these animals deserve Endangered Species Act protection, but under Trump the agency dragged its feet.

The species we're asking the feds to protect include the unique Okinawa woodpecker, harmed by U.S. jungle-warfare training in Japan; the stunning Kaiser-i-Hind swallowtail, threatened by habitat destruction and collection in Bhutan, China and India; and Mexico's Colorado Delta clam, plunging toward extinction due to drastically reduced Colorado River flows from the United States. Some of these animals have been waiting for protection for almost 35 years.

"The Endangered Species Act can help species outside the U.S. too," said the Center's International Director Sarah Uhlemann. "U.S. protection can ban a species' import and sale, increase awareness of their plight, and sometimes even bring funding."

Safeguards Sought for Mexican Marine Species

Shortfin mako shark

Also on the international front, the Center recently petitioned Mexico's government to protect two of the country's most imperiled ocean creatures, the shortfin mako shark and warty sea cucumber — both imminently threatened by commercial fishing, but neither properly protected by Mexico. Our petition also follows up on three hammerhead sharks we petitioned Mexico to protect last year.

"These animals are in serious trouble," said the Center's Alejandro Olivera. "They can't wait years for the Mexican government to consider whether they deserve protection."

Formosa Plastics plant

Help Stop Formosa Plastics

The fight to stop Formosa Plastics from building a mega-polluting petrochemical plant in St. James Parish, Louisiana, has reached a crucial turning point. After a lot of hard work — through the power of the people and robust legal opposition — construction has been delayed.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has suspended, and is now reevaluating, the project's federal permit. Any meaningful analysis will make it clear that the permit should be revoked entirely. The plant would pollute a predominantly Black community, disturb unmarked burial sites of formerly enslaved people, degrade wetlands, and deepen the ocean plastic pollution crisis.

Urge the Army Corps of Engineers to prioritize environmental justice and protect wetlands by revoking Formosa Plastics' federal permit today.

Pumpjacks

Revelator: Biden Move on Methane Faces Trump-era Obstacles

On his first day in office, President Biden signed an order for the review of Trump administration rollbacks of methane-pollution limits, writes Tim Lydon in The Revelator. The move suggests Biden is interested in tackling the threat of methane emissions to our climate — the United States is now the world's second-biggest emitter of the gas after Russia.

But challenges loom: Trump's gutting of the Environmental Protection Agency and last-minute rules limiting the role of science and public health in federal decisions have lined up hurdles the new administration will have to jump.

Read the full story and sign up for The Revelator's e-newsletter.

Jaguar and ocelot

That's Wild: Jaguar and Ocelot Spotted Again in Borderlands

The Arizona borderlands stretch along a "biogeographic transition zone" where biotic communities of the temperate Coloradan Plateau mix with those of the subtropical Madrean Archipelago. As a result, a whopping four species of wild cat — mountain lion, bobcat, jaguar and ocelot — share native ranges in the southern part of the Grand Canyon State.

In January remote cameras once again detected Arizona's only known wild jaguar and ocelot. While the jaguar has been spotted year after year since 2016, the ocelot hadn't been documented in the state since 2012. See these two wild cats of the borderlands in our video on Facebook or YouTube and read more about the recent sightings.

Border-wall construction, mining proposals and other destructive projects are a constant threat to big cat conservation in Arizona. But it's great news that these beautiful animals are still roaming free.

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Photo credits: Dempster Highway, Canada, by MikoFox Photography/Flickr; gray wolf pup by Joachim S. Müller/Flickr; American bumblebee by Matthew Allen/iNaturalist; border wall by Russ McSpadden/Center for Biological Diversity; Okinawa woodpecker by Patrick Randall/Flickr; shortfin mako shark by Mark Conlin/SWFSC Large Pelagics Program; Formosa Plastics plant by Patrick Hendry; pumpjacks in North Dakota by Tim Evanson; jaguar by Russ McSpadden/Center for Biological Diversity; ocelot courtesy Conservation CATalyst.

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