A New Case for Reintroducing Jaguars to the U.S. Southwest
The last two wild jaguars born in the United States died in 1963 and 1964 in Arizona — the male in a federally set trap, the female shot by a private hunter.
Now a new scientific paper says jaguar reintroduction to the same region — where Mexican gray wolves were reintroduced and where the Center for Biological Diversity was founded — would help make its ecosystems whole again.
Male jaguars disperse from Mexico to the U.S. Southwest in search of new territory; since 2015 several wild jaguars have been observed roaming southern Arizona. But none live in the 20-million-acre area of the Mogollon Plateau where a separate study found suitable habitat for up to 150 of the great, spotted cats.
Because female jaguars don’t roam as far as males, said the Center’s Michael Robinson, who was one of the study’s authors, reproduction isn’t happening north of the border. But the Center is taking the long view, seeking to protect the verdant streamsides of the Mogollon Plateau as critical habitat to provide cover and ample prey for future jaguar families.
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Speak Up for Hawai‘i’s Sharks
Over the past 50 years, shark populations across the globe have plummeted due to increased fishing, and many shark species are on a path to extinction. In Hawai‘i reef shark populations have fallen by more than 90%.
To address this crisis, Hawai‘i’s state legislature passed a landmark bill to provide much-needed protections for 40 shark species. Supported by conservationists and Native Hawaiian leaders, the bill would set criminal and civil penalties for knowingly capturing or killing sharks within state waters.
All we need now to make the bill law is the governor’s signature. Please take a moment to urge Gov. David Ige to sign House Bill 553 and protect our sharks.
Biden Reveals 30x30 Conservation Plan
Last week, following up on an executive order from January, President Biden introduced the “America the Beautiful” plan to conserve 30% of the nation’s land and water by 2030.
“It’s a big deal that the Biden administration recognizes we’re in the midst of an extinction crisis and a climate emergency,” said the Center’s Randi Spivak. “The plan is an important rallying cry. Now we need to translate this vision into new, enduring conservation actions on the ground across the country.”
In Memoriam: Elsie Herring, Environmental-Justice Warrior
Ms. Elsie Herring, a beloved elder and dedicated activist, passed away May 5 after a long life spent fighting destructive agribusiness and the environmental racism inherent in the massive factory farms surrounding her community.
Her advocacy for her land and the health of her family and neighbors in North Carolina was a labor of love. Testifying before a U.S. House committee in 2019, Herring said: “No one anywhere should have to live like this. … The [hog operations] are located here because we are the path of least resistance, because we do not have money and we do not have a voice in the halls of power. They assumed we would not fight back. They were wrong.”
It was an honor to share space with Ms. Elsie, who was a joy to be around as well as a hero in the environmental-justice movement. We send our deepest sympathy to her family and will honor and cherish the trailblazing legacy she leaves.
Petition Filed to Save Rare Whale From Ship Strikes
The Center and allies just petitioned the National Marine Fisheries Service to establish speed limits and other rules for ships in the core habitat of the critically endangered Gulf of Mexico whale. Called “America’s whale,” it’s the only great whale living entirely off the U.S. coast — but it’s shockingly near extinction, with about 50 individuals left on Earth. And it’s extremely vulnerable to painful and deadly vessel strikes, which the Center has worked to curb since 2007.
“Speed limits have helped save whales on the East Coast,” said Center lawyer Kristen Monsell, “and they’ll help save the Gulf of Mexico whale from extinction.”
BLM to Rethink Boundary Waters Destruction
The Center and partners reached an agreement with the Bureau of Land Management on Monday: The agency will revisit its Trump-era decision to renew permits that could allow the expansion of a destructive mine on the edge of Minnesota’s beautiful Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
The agreement — a result of our 2020 lawsuit — will bring a new decision after a public comment period, a new environmental analysis, and BLM consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on potential harm to endangered species.
“A massive copper-sulfide mine just upstream from the spectacular Boundary Waters wilderness is simply too great a risk,” said the Center’s Marc Fink.
End of Bird-Killing Trump Rule Is Near — But Not Near Enough
Following a lawsuit by the Center and allies, the Biden administration proposed to reverse a Trump-era rule letting industry kill migratory birds without penalty. Rolling back the 100-year-old Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the deadly policy waived consequences for corporate bird-killing nationwide, from oil companies killing seabirds in oil spills to utilities electrocuting snowy owls on uninsulated power lines.
“The Biden administration is right to reverse the horrific Trump rule,” said Center litigation director Eric Glitzenstein. “But a federal court already shot down the legal interpretation underlying Trump’s policy, so the Interior Department can and should jettison the rule immediately.”
California Gains Another Wolf as Idaho Massacres Them
Four months after OR-93 trekked hundreds of miles from Oregon to Northern California, this month another young male Oregonian wolf made himself at home there. Called OR-103, he’s the second gray wolf to arrive in California this year. Meanwhile, in Idaho, wolves are being killed in staggering numbers.
“We’re thrilled that California’s tiny population of wolves is growing,” said Center wolf expert Amaroq Weiss. “Thankfully OR-103 came here, where there are full state protections in place, and not Idaho, whose governor just signed into law a bill allowing hunters to kill most of the state’s wolves.”
The Revelator: Arachnophobia Stops Us From Saving Spiders
Spiders are sorely neglected in conservation in Europe (and likely around the world), reports The Revelator — even though they play vital roles in ecosystems and inspire us in fields like medicine and engineering. As new research reveals, spiders simply aren’t studied enough — and only a few of the thousands of species in Europe have any protection from the countries they live in. That needs to change.
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That’s Wild: Rare Footage of Whales Hugging
In humans, hugs release a hormone called oxytocin that plays a key role in social bonding, reduces stress and increases pain tolerance. All mammals — including whales — have oxytocin. Now we have proof that whales hug.
Recently researchers spotted two critically endangered North Atlantic right whales, off Cape Cod, embracing with their flippers, belly to belly. Lucky for us, a drone captured the moment on video. It’s probably the first-ever recorded whale hug.
Read more and see the video at MassLive.
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Photo credits: Jaguar by Robin Silver/Center for Biological Diversity; whitetip reef shark in Hawai'i by John Burns; Earth courtesy NASA; Elsie Herring by member/supporter of the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network and shared in loving memory of Elsie Herring; Gulf of Mexico whale courtesy NOAA; Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness by Mike Sweet/USFWS; snowy owl by Brent Eades/Flickr; gray wolf by Scott Willey/USFWS; jumping spider by Bernard Dupont; North Atlantic right whale by Allison Henry/NOAA.
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