A Leap Forward for California Mountain Lions

Endangered Earth: The weekly wildlife update from the Center for Biological Diversity.
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A Win for California's Wild Cats

Mountain lions in Southern California and along the Central Coast are a crucial step closer to protection under the state's Endangered Species Act.

Responding to a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity and the Mountain Lion Foundation, the California Fish and Game Commission just voted to make these regions' six mountain lion populations candidates for protection.

This means cats in those areas will get immediate protections while the state agency conducts a year-long review to decide if formal safeguards are warranted. Mountain lions face a long list of threats, including genetic isolation, car strikes, poisonings and sanctioned depredation kills.

"This is a historic moment for California's big cats," said the Center's Tiffany Yap. "These ecosystem engineers face huge threats that could wipe out key populations. But with state protections, we can start reversing course to save our mountain lions."

If you spoke up through a Center alert for California's big cats, you made a difference. We made a video to say thank you — check it out on Facebook and YouTube.

And please consider supporting our work to protect mountain lions with a donation to our Saving Life on Earth Fund.

Air pollution

Launched: Endangered Species Act Lawsuit Against EPA

On Tuesday the Center launched a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency over its decision to suspend monitoring and reporting requirements for major pollution during the pandemic.

Our notice of intent to sue urges the agency to ensure that the suspension doesn't harm endangered and threatened species.

"The Trump administration must not be allowed to use the pandemic to give polluters free rein to foul our air and water and hurt wildlife," said Center attorney Jared Margolis.

You can help: Tell the EPA to enforce laws intended to protect our environment.

Missed Our Earth Day Event? Watch It Now

Earth

The Earth Day edition of our Saving Life on Earth webinar series included a great discussion about a bold plan to save 30% of land and ocean by 2030 and half by 2050. Thanks to all who joined us. If you missed the conversation, you can watch it online.

Take a moment to urge your representatives to support the Thirty by Thirty Resolution to Save Nature, which sets a national goal of conserving at least 30% of land and 30% of the ocean in the United States by 2030.

Our next Saving Life on Earth discussion will be Thursday, April 30, about our fight to save grizzly bears and wolverines. Sign up now.

Cyanea tritomantha

Win in Hawaii: Habitat for 14 Species Will Be Protected

A legal victory by the Center offers a desperately needed reprieve to 14 highly imperiled Hawaii species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must now designate protected critical habitat for them by February 2024.

The species are 12 plants — including yellow flowering shrubs in the aster family, called Ko'oko'olau, that have traditionally been used to make tea — plus an anchialine pool shrimp and a picture-wing fly. They're being pushed toward extinction by urbanization, invasive species and climate change.

"I'm so glad these 14 Hawaii species, found nowhere else on Earth, will finally get badly needed habitat protections," said Maxx Phillips, the Center's Hawaii director. "Safeguarding the places where they live will help protect vulnerable parts of Hawaii for future generations."

Read more in Honolulu Civil Beat.

Bald eagles

Bald eagles are great parenting partners. This footage from an eagle nest cam at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge provides an excellent view of their "changing of the guard." Watch on Facebook or YouTube.

Smokestack

Give Pandemic Relief to People, Not Polluters

The Center and about 300 other groups sent a letter to Congress on Monday demanding that federal relief money aimed at relieving the effects of the COVID-19 crisis be directed to people directly affected by it, not fossil fuel corporations.

The fossil fuel industry, said the letter, should be excluded from receiving loans in the next COVID-19 aid package. New bills should ensure that affected workers in that industry are provided with assistance and labor protections for weathering a job transition.

"It's a moral outrage for fossil fuel executives to try to cash in while workers and communities suffer through a pandemic," said the Center's Ben Goloff, a climate campaigner. "Congress needs to protect people, not a handful of profiteering polluters."

Tell Congress to direct taxpayer-funded COVID-19 aid only to those who need it.

Speak Up for the World-famous Okefenokee

Okefenokee Swamp

The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is one of the world's largest intact freshwater ecosystems. But this precious gem is under threat from a proposed heavy-minerals mine that could harm the many imperiled species that live in and near the swamp — including eastern indigo snakes, frosted flatwoods salamanders, gopher tortoises, red-cockaded woodpeckers and wood storks.

You can help: Tell the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to protect the unparalleled Okefenokee refuge and its rare species by denying the proposed mine.

Borderlands

Trump's border wall is inching closer to a critical jaguar corridor between the rugged mountains of Sonora, Mexico, and the Sky Islands of Arizona. The Center's Southwest Conservation Advocate Randy Seraglio explains what's at stake. Watch on Facebook or YouTube.

Oregon wolf puppy

Oregon's Wolf Population Higher — But Not Recovered

A new report shows that in 2019, Oregon's gray wolf population increased from 137 to 158 animals and now includes 22 packs. Livestock-wolf conflicts decreased notably, and no wolves were killed by agency staff over livestock issues.

But six wolf deaths last year were human caused, and the population is still low. "We saw that educating livestock operators on nonlethal conflict prevention can help," said Center wolf expert Amaroq Weiss. "Still, this limited population uptick shows that wolves are far from recovered in Oregon or across the United States. They need continued protection."

Read more.

Sage grouse

Massive Las Vegas Water Grab Halted

Las Vegas is giving up a decades-long plan to build a 300-mile-long pipeline that would grab groundwater from rural northeast Nevada for the state's biggest metropolitan area. It's a critical reprieve for eastern Nevada's fragile ecosystems, rare species, rural communities, tribes and sacred sites.

The Center has been fighting the pipeline for more than 12 years, with your help. Thank you for being by our side.

The pipeline may not be dead yet — the Southern Nevada Water Authority still has pending permits related to the project. But we'll continue to fight it with everything we've got, and we intend to win.

Get more from U.S. News & World Report.

The Revelator Reads: Urban Nature and Inner Lives

There's no need to be bored while you're homebound during the pandemic, says Revelator editor John Platt. This month's newest and greenest books include an intriguing look at finding nature in the middle of the city called Nature Obscura and two new tomes from famed ecologist Carl Safina. One is for adults and the other's for children, but both explore the inner lives of other animals.

Check out the great new eco-reads of April and sign up for The Revelator's e-newsletter.

Bobcats

Wild & Working On It: Bobkitten Practices Jumping

A remote camera in Washington state has captured footage of a mother bobcat teaching her kitten to jump. The mother leaps to a branch off-screen and the kitten follows suit ... sort of. Check out the super-slo-mo replay of the young cat's valiant effort on Facebook and YouTube.

In 2019 the Center took legal action against the feds' Wildlife Services program over its killing of thousands of native animals every year in Washington state, including bobcats.

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Photo credits: Mountain lion in California's Verdugo Mountains courtesy NPS; air pollution by Ralf Vetterle/Pixabay; aurora borealis as seen from space courtesy NASA; Cyanea tritomantha by Karl Magnacca; bald eagles courtesy USFWS; smokestack by SenorCodo/Flickr; Okefenokee Swamp by TimothyJ/Flickr; U.S.-Mexico borderlands courtesy Center for Biological Diversity; Oregon wolf puppy courtesy USFWS; sage grouse in eastern Nevada by Tatiana Gettelman/USGS; forest by Kien Virak/Pixabay; bobcats courtesy WDFW.

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