Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: For Sale by Trump Administration

Endangered Earth: The weekly wildlife update from the Center for Biological Diversity.
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Polar bear
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Administration Opens Arctic Wildlife Refuge to Drilling

The Trump administration moved this week to open more than 1.5 million acres of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling.

The move — undoing decades of federal protection — will spell disaster for a pristine wilderness that's home to polar bears, Arctic foxes, caribou, and vast numbers of birds and other wildlife. It'll open up the region to devastating oil spills and compound the climate crisis that's already threatening so many of those species.

"We've reached a dangerous new low in the Trump administration's obsession with expanding the extraction of dirty fossil fuels," said the Center for Biological Diversity's Kristen Monsell.

This fight isn't over, so stay tuned for our next action. Meanwhile, support our work to keep drilling out of the refuge with a donation to our Saving Live on Earth Fund.

Southern Resident killer whale and calf

Take Action: Save Some Salmon for Starving Orcas

On the West Coast, Southern Resident killer whales have plummeted to an astonishing new low in the past three decades, with just 72 individuals remaining. But there's new hope, despite annual surveys showing a severe decline in their condition due to lack of food.

New ways to study orcas, like collecting fecal samples from boats with the help of dogs, have given scientists undeniable evidence of the importance of Chinook salmon in orcas' diets. Now it's time to use that science to stop overfishing of salmon and leave enough for the whales.

Urge the Pacific Fishery Management Council to pass new measures for reducing the salmon harvest if the health of either the fish or orcas doesn't meet certain levels.

Monarch butterfly

Today: A Discussion on Saving Monarchs and Other Insects

It's impossible to overstate the importance of insects in keeping the planet healthy. But across the globe, amazing insects like monarch butterflies, native bees, fireflies and carnivorous tiger beetles are being lost due to pesticides, development and other threats.

Join us later today for our Saving Life on Earth webinar to learn how the Center's working to protect monarchs and other insects and how you can get involved in our Saving the Insects campaign.

The hour-long webinar starts at 4 p.m. PT / 7 p.m. ET. You have to register to join, so sign up and then check your email for a link.

Burrowing owl

Protect Tomorrow's Wildlife Today: Join the Owls Club

Owls — ancient symbols of wisdom and protection to many — have long been among the vast suite of species we're fighting to save. By joining the Owls Club through naming the Center in your will, or making the Center a beneficiary of your retirement plan or other estate plan, you help continue our work fighting for the iconic wildlife and landscapes we love — not just for our lifetimes, but for generations to come.

These gifts are designed to help you and your family as well as the Center. Please email us or get more information.

Leatherback

California Moves to Protect Leatherback Sea Turtles

Declining leatherback sea turtles just got a lot closer to gaining permanent protections in California.

On Wednesday the California Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously to advance leatherbacks to candidacy under the state's Endangered Species Act. This follows a Center petition urging protection for the turtles.

The next step is a year-long review to determine if these populations should be formally protected. During this period leatherbacks will receive the protections of the state's Act.

Thank you to those of you who spoke up for California's leatherbacks through a recent Center alert. You made a difference.

Border wall

Water Pumping for the Border Wall Could Cause Extinctions

In southeastern Arizona, on the border with Mexico, lies a place called the San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge, where rare wetlands spring up in the midst of the desert. Those wetlands are home to birds, bats and endangered fish the refuge was created to protect. But now, over the objections of the refuge's manager, the water that feeds this precious place is being pumped out by Customs and Border Protection contractors to build the Trump administration's border wall.

As the Center's Randy Serraglio told the Associated Press, CBP is a rogue agency that operates "outside the law, with no regard for other federal agencies and public lands and natural resources." If the rare creatures and sacred sites of the borderlands are to be saved, that has to stop.

Read the story.

Red Cliffs National Conservation Area

Take Action: Reject Unnecessary Highway Through Red Cliffs

In southwest Utah a four-lane highway may soon be bulldozed through the stunning Red Cliffs National Conservation Area. Here, where the red rocks of the Colorado Plateau meet the Mojave, imperiled desert tortoises have been granted permanent protection. But recently tortoises have come under new stress: A human-caused wildfire has burned 12,000 acres in the preserve.

If the "Northern Corridor" is constructed, it'll rip right through these tortoises' homes while they're trying to recover from the fire and cut across protected lands enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people. Such reckless suburban sprawl benefits only the developers who stand to profit.

Please send a letter to federal officials insisting they include the fire's impacts in an updated environmental review, reject the highway, and choose one of the cheaper alternatives outside the preserve.

Gray fox kit

Check out these tree-climbing canids in the Arizona borderlands. Gray foxes have some special, un-canid-like adaptations. With flexible wrists similar to those of primates, and cat-like paws with long, curved claws, they're equipped to climb, hunt and play in the forest canopy. Watch our new video on Facebook or YouTube.

Fourspot butterflyfish

Hawaii Council Upholds Ban on Collecting Reef Fish

We just scored a victory protecting West Hawaii reef fish from the damaging aquarium trade. Hawaii's Environmental Council has upheld a state decision to maintain a ban on commercial collection along the Kona Coast. It's another milestone in a legal battle begun in 2012, when the Center joined Miloli‘i fisherman Wilfred "Willie" Kaupiko and other allies — represented by Earthjustice — in challenging Hawaii's failure to address the pet trade's environmental impacts.

As the Center's Maxx Phillips said, "We can't let the aquarium industry increase the danger Hawaii's coral reefs already face."

Read more.

The Revelator: Southeastern Cities and the Rising Tide

Raised house

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wants to build a massive seawall around the historic city of Charleston, South Carolina — a $2 billion project that could do as much harm as good. Meanwhile, from Charleston to Norfolk, Virginia, people are looking at new ways to use green space and wetlands to protect communities from flooding. The Revelator spoke to experts at the Southern Environmental Law Center about efforts to shore up cities against the rising seas of climate change.

Read the interview and sign up for The Revelator's weekly e-newsletter.

Yellow-rumped leaf-eared mouse

Wild & Weird: Meet the World's Highest Mammal

Researchers have discovered a yellow-rumped leaf-eared mouse (Phyllotis xanthopygus rupestris) scurrying between rocks at 22,100 feet at the summit of a dormant volcano on the border of Chile and Argentina. This makes the tubby little mouse the new record holder for highest-dwelling mammal.

The previous record holder was the large-eared pika (Ochotona macrotis), spotted at an altitude of 20,111 feet on Mount Everest.

Read more at ScienceNews.

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Photo credits: Polar bear by Hans-Jurgen Mager/Unsplash; Southern Resident killer whale and calf courtesy NOAA; monarch butterfly by Tierra Curry/Center for Biological Diversity; burrowing owl by William C. Gladdish; leatherback sea turtle courtesy NOAA; border wall near the wetlands at the San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge by Laiken Jordahl/Center for Biological Diversity; Red Cliffs National Conservation Area by Bob Wick/BLM; gray fox kit by Renee Grayson/Wikimedia; fourspot butterflyfish by zsispeo/Flickr; raised house in Norfolk, Virginia, courtesy Southern Environmental Law Center; yellow-rumped leaf-eared mouse, public domain.

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