In California, a Victory for Leatherbacks
Leatherback sea turtles lived on Earth with the dinosaurs — but now these migrating giants are in danger of winking out in a single human lifetime. Leatherbacks are declining dramatically off California’s coast: Only about 50 Pacific leatherbacks forage in those waters annually, compared to an average of 178 of the turtles in the years 1990 to 2003.
So when the California Fish and Game Commission voted to protect leatherbacks under the state’s Endangered Species Act, we breathed a sigh of relief.
“California’s action will make an outsized difference for leatherback sea turtles, even in the face of global threats like the loss of nesting beaches,” said Catherine Kilduff, a lawyer with the Center for Biological Diversity. “This benefits not only sea turtles, but whales and people too.”
Court Win: Feds Must Tackle Mexican Wolf Poaching
In response to a suit by the Center and allies, a judge has ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must address the illegal killing of Mexican gray wolves in its recovery plan for the species.
Our 2018 lawsuit pointed out that the plan failed to meet basic Endangered Species Act requirements like management actions and measurable goals to address the most immediate threat to Mexican wolves: illegal killing.
“The Fish and Wildlife Service hasn’t been doing all it can to protect these precious animals’ lives,” said the Center’s Michael Robinson. “This decision opens the door to a wider reform.”
Petition Filed to End Drilling Off California
In the wake of Orange County’s disastrous offshore oil spill, the Center and dozens of allies petitioned the Department of the Interior to immediately suspend — and ultimately cancel — all oil and gas leases in federal waters off California.
“This oil spill is a slap in the face for Californians, and it should be a wake-up call for the Biden administration,” said Emily Jeffers, a Center attorney and petition coauthor. “Federal officials have the power and the duty to stop the oil industry from killing our birds, fouling our beaches and polluting our climate. The Biden administration needs to bring the hammer down on offshore drilling in California’s federal waters.”
Help us to end drilling off California with a gift to our Saving Life on Earth Fund.
A Half Million Acres for Pacific Fishers
Mink and otter relatives, Pacific fishers once roamed forests up and down the West Coast. But logging and trapping depleted their numbers so drastically that only two naturally occurring populations are left: 100-500 fishers in the southern Sierra Nevada and a few thousand in Northern California and southern Oregon.
After years of efforts by the Center and our partners, the Fish and Wildlife Service just proposed to designate 554,454 acres in the southern Sierra as critical habitat.
“While these new protections are good news for the southern Sierra Nevada population, it’s disappointing that the Service neglected to also protect habitat in the northern Sierra,” said Justin Augustine, a Center attorney. “With the increasing threats this tiny population faces, it’s crucial to protect the vulnerable habitat of these fishers now.”
New Program: Carnivore Conservation
Throughout history carnivores have been both revered and feared. They've also been persecuted — hunted and killed by those seeking to show mastery over nature's powerful predators and by those who misunderstand their critical ecological roles.
The Center has been defending these animals — and making big strides — since our founding more than 30 years ago. Now we’ve set up a program devoted solely to winning gray wolves, grizzlies, jaguars and other carnivores the protections and respect they deserve.
Southwest Snake Snags Habitat Safeguards
After nearly two decades of Center advocacy, the Fish and Wildlife Service has protected 447 stream miles in the Southwest as critical habitat for narrow-headed garter snakes.
These fish-eaters live in or alongside streams, where their namesake elongated heads reduce drag from the water as they strike out at prey. But their rivers have been degraded by grazing, mining, invasive species, drought, and drainage for agriculture and sprawl.
“Protection should have come sooner for the narrow-headed garter snake,” said Brian Segee, our endangered species legal director. “Now we have to focus on safeguarding and restoring our rivers to keep it swimming forever.”
Win for Arizona River and Rare Species
In the arid West, \ is the most widespread cause of species endangerment, irreparably harming the ecosystems they depend on. The latest win in our fight against overgrazing is a settlement with the feds to protect Arizona’s Verde River — and its tributaries and banks — from cattle.
These waterways are home to endangered and threatened species including southwestern willow flycatchers, yellow-billed cuckoos, Gila chub and Chiricahua leopard frogs.
“The settlement requires the Forest Service to actually do its job — and ranchers to actually comply,” said Center cofounder Robin Silver. “Keeping cattle from trampling these fragile wetlands will give rare plants and animals a fighting chance at survival.”
Revelator: Could Wildlife Have Legal Rights?
That’s Wild: Octopuses, Humans Share Bedtime Trait
Humans’ last common ancestor with octopuses was probably a worm that lived some 600-750 million years ago. But remarkably, a new study shows, we and these highly intelligent cephalopods both independently evolved a two-stage sleep pattern.
Researchers filmed octopuses sleeping in tanks and found that during one stage of “quiet” sleep, the animals’ skin was pale and their bodies mostly still. During the second stage, or “active sleep,” their skin stiffened and darkened; they moved their eyes and twitched and contracted their bodies. The active sleep lasted about 40 seconds, alternating with 40 minutes of quiet sleep.
Humans have comparable cycles of sleep: rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, where dreams happen, and “slow-wave” sleep.
Does this mean we’ve finally discovered that octopuses dream? Too soon to know for sure.
Learn more and watch a video of octopuses sleeping in two stages.
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Photo credits: Leatherback sea turtle hatchling by GTM Research Reserve/Flickr; Mexican gray wolf by Jim Clark/USFWS; Huntington Beach oil spill by John Fleming/Center for Biological Diversity; Pacific fisher courtesy USFWS; grizzly bear by Holy Smokes! Pham/Flickr; narrow-headed garter snake by Pierson Hill; yellow-billed cuckoo by Seabamirum/Flickr; black-footed ferret by Ryan Moehring/USFWS; octopus by Jonathan Ichikawa/Flickr.
Center for Biological Diversity
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