Fighting for a Future for Leopards

Endangered Earth: The weekly wildlife update from the Center for Biological Diversity.
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We're Suing to Halt Leopard Trophy Imports

Beautiful leopards are at risk of extinction from habitat loss, lack of prey, persecution by humans, poaching for the illegal fur trade, and unsustainable trophy hunting.

The United States is a major driver of the leopard trophy trade. On average we import nearly 300 leopard trophies per year — over half the trade. To save these animals we need to rein in our voracious thirst for their parts.

The Center for Biological Diversity and allies just went to court to do that. Our lawsuit challenges the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's approval of leopard trophy imports from Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Mozambique and Zambia into the United States.

"Federal officials are dishing out leopard import permits right and left without knowing how trophy hunting harms this highly imperiled species," said Tanya Sanerib, the Center's international legal director. "We're going to ensure that the United States fulfills its obligation to guarantee that leopard imports don't threaten the survival of the species."

Support this legal battle by making a donation — which will be matched dollar for dollar — to our Saving Life On Earth Fund.


We'll Soon Be Back in Court for Wolves

In response to the Trump administration stripping protection from gray wolves across the country, the Center and partners notified the Fish and Wildlife Service last week of our intent to file suit over this anti-scientific, unpopular and cruel decision.

The Trump rule, effective Jan. 4, will open doors across the country to wolf-killing.

"The Trump administration turned its back on wolf recovery, even as the science shows that wolves are too imperiled and ecologically important to abandon," said Collette Adkins, carnivore conservation director at the Center. "We're taking the fight to the courts, and I'm confident we can restore the Endangered Species Act's lifesaving protections to gray wolves across the nation."

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Today: Screening of The Bees of Grand Staircase-Escalante

Join us later today for a special Saving Life on Earth webinar about native bees and public lands. Did you know that 660 of the 3,600 native bee species in the United States live in Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante? And that this monument has been under continuous assault? We'll watch a new documentary, The Bees of Grand Staircase-Escalante, and then talk with the filmmaker and staff from our Public Lands and Environmental Health programs.

The 75-minute 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.

March Against Death Alley

Win Against Plastic Plant in Cancer Alley

Following legal work by the Center and allies, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has halted construction of one of the world's largest petrochemical plants. The Corps will now reevaluate the permit it gave to Formosa Plastics, a multinational petrochemical conglomerate.

As stated in our lawsuit and other court filings, the planned plant in St. James Parish, Louisiana, would violate the Clean Water Act, National Historic Preservation Act and National Environmental Policy Act — meanwhile harming a Cancer Alley community already sickened by overexposure to industrial pollution.

"It's not in the public interest to pollute a Black community and destroy its cultural resources just to crank out more throwaway plastic," said Center attorney Julie Teel Simmonds. "We still need to see if the feds will meaningfully revisit their permit."

Read more in The Washington Post.

Gray wolves

Wolves Will Be Returned to Colorado — by the People

After intense advocacy by the Center and allies, Colorado became the first state to decide to reintroduce wolves — or any animal — to the wild through a direct popular vote.

Prop 114, which passed Nov. 3, will return wolves, whose last packs were exterminated in the state in the 1920s, to the Southern Rockies beginning in 2022 or 2023.

"This is a great victory for wolves coming on the heels of Trump's illegal action to remove federal protection, and it will help restore the natural balance in Colorado's Rocky Mountains," said the Center's Michael Robinson.

Sickle darter and Canoe Creek clubshell

Tennessee Fish and Alabama Mussel Proposed for Protection

Decades of damage to our rivers have sharply increased extinction risk for freshwater species. But thanks to legal action by the Center, the Fish and Wildlife Service just proposed Endangered Species Act protection for two of them.

The sickle darter is a five-inch fish of Tennessee's Appalachian rivers that eats larval mayflies, midges, riffle beetles, caddisflies and dragonflies. It's threatened by water pollution, siltation and dams that separate its populations.

The Canoe Creek clubshell is a mussel that lives only in tributaries of the Coosa River, in northeast Alabama. Like the sickle darter, it's threatened by pollution — plus drought caused by climate change.

By protecting these small river-dwellers, we also help ourselves: Like them, we depend on the health of our rivers for our wellbeing.

California red-legged frog

Trump EPA Admits Atrazine Likely Harms 1,000 At-risk Species

Two months after the Trump Environmental Protection Agency OK'ed use of the exceptionally dangerous pesticide atrazine — which is linked to cancer and reproductive harm in people and chemically castrates frogs — for 15 more years, it released an incriminating assessment.

The chemical is likely to harm more than 1,000 of the nation's most endangered plants and animals, said an agency document released Nov. 5.

"Finally the EPA has been forced to acknowledge atrazine's far-reaching harms," said Nathan Donley, a Center senior scientist. "This alarming assessment leaves no doubt that this hideously dangerous pesticide should be banned in the U.S., just as it is across much of the world."

Three Actions Biden Must Take for Oceans

Sea Turtle

Our oceans are in trouble. Absorbing heat and carbon from humans' fossil fuel addiction, they're rising, becoming more acidic, and bringing deadlier hurricanes. They're filling with plastic and other pollution due to our overconsumption. Whales, sea turtles and corals are struggling to survive in waters endangered by human threats.

In an op-ed for The Hill, our Oceans Director Miyoko Sakashita spells out three critical actions President-Elect Joe Biden must take in his first year to begin healing our oceans — and ourselves.

Check Out Our Fall Membership Newsletter

Fall 2020 print newsletter cover

This fall's Endangered Earth, the Center's print newsletter, is now available online. Read about our recent work worldwide, from petitioning for Alaska's rare, unique Alexander Archipelago wolves to helping maintain a ban on commercial collection of aquarium fish along Hawai‘i's Kona Coast. Also in this issue: a powerful essay about the fight to save sacred biodiversity hotspot Quitobaquito Springs from the border wall by Tohono O'odham activist Hon'mana Seukteoma.

We make this members-only newsletter available to online supporters to thank you for taking action — but please consider becoming a member today and helping even more. Just call us toll free at 1-866-357-3349 x 323 or visit our website to learn more and donate.

Revelator: The Planet's Biggest Election Wins (and Losses)

Biden/Harris campaign sign

The 2020 election, as Tara Lohan writes in The Revelator, "provides a much-needed opportunity to restore scientific integrity and take action on climate change, environmental justice, biodiversity and other pressing concerns."

But was everything that happened good for the environment? (Spoiler alert: nope.) Get the biggest environmental takeaways and subscribe to The Revelator's weekly newsletter.


Wild & Weird: The Platypus Just Got Weirder

Journalist Hunter S. Thompson wrote, "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." He could very well have drawn inspiration from the platypus.

First of all, it looks like a duck-faced burrito with the backside of a beaver. Platypuses lay eggs and are venomous — two extremely rare attributes in a mammal. And now scientists have discovered they have biofluorescent fur. For what purpose? It's still a mystery.

Read more at ScienceAlert.

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Photo credits: Leopard by Mihael Hercog/Flickr; gray wolf by mtsofan/Flickr; Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by Bob Wick/BLM; March Against Death Alley courtesy Louisiana Bucket Brigade; gray wolves via Shutterstock; sickle darter courtesy Conservation Fisheries, Inc.; Canoe Creek clubshell by Frank Chitwood/Coosa Riverkeeper; California red-legged frog, public domain; sea turtle by Jeremy Bishop/Unsplash; Center for Biological Diversity Fall 2020 print newsletter cover with caribou by Ken Conger/NPS; Biden and Harris campaign sign by Victoria Pickering; platypus by Klaus/Wikimedia.

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