California Recommends Protection for Leatherbacks
Leatherback sea turtles have been around since dinosaurs roamed the planet. But over the past three decades, they’ve declined by more than 5% every year off the California coast. Only about 50 Pacific leatherbacks now forage in those waters annually.
Thankfully, in response to a petition by the Center for Biological Diversity and Turtle Island Restoration Network, this week California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife recommended protecting them under the state’s Endangered Species Act.
“For millions of years these ancient reptiles have traveled across the Pacific using their long flippers, which can easily catch on fishing lines,” said Catherine Kilduff, a Center attorney. “Now California has to commit to ensuring they survive by converting to ropeless pots and traps and doing research to prevent entanglement in other gear.”
Win in the Fight to Stop Polluting Plastics Plant
In the fight to stop one of the world’s largest plastics plants from being built in Louisiana’s already polluted “Cancer Alley,” the Center and allies just scored another victory.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced that it will require a full environmental impact statement for the massive petrochemical complex Formosa Plastics proposes to build in St. James Parish. This thorough analysis of the public health, environmental, climate, justice and cultural impacts of the complex will reveal that the project should never be built.
Last year we and our partners sued to block the project and convinced the Army Corps to suspend its permit.
“We have to stop sacrificing communities and a healthy environment just to make throwaway plastic,” said Center attorney Julie Teel Simmonds.
Lawsuit Launched for Manatee Habitat
Habitat Protected for Two Texas Salamanders
In the wake of a Center legal win, the Fish and Wildlife Service just protected 1,315 acres near Austin, Texas as critical habitat for Georgetown and Salado salamanders. The area includes an underground aquifer and springs.
These two amphibians, who live their whole lives underwater in the nooks and crannies of the Edwards Aquifer, will need even more help to survive and recover. “The key to saving these spring-loving salamanders is protecting the places they live,” said Elise Bennett, a Center attorney.
Center Petitions for Ultra-Rare Sea Star
The Center filed a petition Wednesday to protect sunflower sea stars — the world’s largest sea star, and now among the rarest — under the Endangered Species Act. These unique, brightly colored animals can grow to be more than 3 feet wide with 24 arms. But they’ve been declining dramatically and suffering horrific deaths from a marine epidemic: Warmer oceans are driving the outbreak of sea star wasting disease.
“Sunflower sea stars are crucial to maintaining healthy kelp forest ecosystems,” said Miyoko Sakashita, director of the Center’s Oceans program. “These big, colorful sunflowers need our help before it’s too late.”
Lawsuit Aims to Save Bats From Insecticides
Along with local allies, the Center sued Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources on Monday for refusing to require proper permitting to spray pesticides threatening five protected bat species.
An insect-control district in west-central Vermont sprays malathion and permethrin, both toxic insecticides, for mosquito control in the habitat of endangered Indiana bats, northern long-eared bats, little brown bats, eastern small-footed bats and tricolored bats — all of whom are protected by state law. These bats’ survival is already seriously at risk from white-nose syndrome and habitat loss.
“Given that bats help to regulate mosquito populations, the state’s reckless decision to allow them to be killed in order to kill mosquitoes is a shortsighted choice,” said Lori Ann Burd, the Center’s environmental health director.
Suit Filed to Protect California Minnow
The Center went to court this week to win Endangered Species Act protection for Northern California’s Clear Lake hitch, which we first petitioned for in 2012. This silvery fish is big for a minnow, at 13 inches long and weighing almost a pound. But due to a long list of threats — including a record-breaking drought driven by climate change — now only a few thousand hitch make their annual spawning run. Still, in 2020 the Trump administration refused to give them protection.
“This is a native fish that’s vital to the Clear Lake ecosystem and the cultural legacy of the Pomo people,” said Center lawyer Meg Townsend. "Our lawsuit seeks an honest assessment of the hitch’s status and the severe threats to its existence.”
War on Wolves: New Podcast Series From Animalia
The fight for wolves is in a critical new phase. Animalia has responded with a four-part podcast series that raises awareness about U.S. wolf recovery, delves into the behavior and sociology of these special animals, and shines light on the incredible community battling to save the species. The series features interviews with Center wolf experts, among others, and lauds our new wolf action website.
Animalia will donate a dollar to the Center’s Wolf Defense Fund for every listen the series gets, up to a total of $2,500. Tune in to this excellent program — and share it with your family and friends.
Suit Targets Arizona’s Agriculture Air Pollution
Arizona snagged an exemption from air-pollution permitting requirements on agricultural equipment. But emissions from diesel-burning farm equipment add to smog and soot — and manure from large animal operations is a growing air-pollution problem too.
So on Friday the Center sued the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to make Arizona control its air pollution from industrial agriculture.
“Industrial agriculture and factory farms are a dirty business when it comes to air pollution,” said the Center’s Robert Ukeiley. “We’re going to court to make sure Arizona is protecting people from asthma attacks, cancer and the other harmful health impacts that massive corporate farming operations can cause.”
Revelator: Bobcats in the Crosshairs
Exploited for their pelts and shot for livestock predation, bobcats are a highly cryptic species that few scientists have studied in detail. Finally, The Revelator reports, some programs are collaborating with First Nations tribes to start monitoring and conserving these beautiful cats, who make a critical contribution to maintaining healthy North American ecosystems.
Learn more and watch a video of a bobcat feeding in a new Species Spotlight. And if you haven’t already, sign up for The Revelator’s weekly e-newsletter.
That’s Wild: Mushrooms in Space
Famed mycologist Paul Stamets is working with NASA and others to identify how mushrooms might one day be used to build soils on other heavenly bodies like asteroids, Mars and beyond.
Stamets calls the endeavor “astromycology” and has started tests to find mushroom species that can break down asteroid regolith and help recycle human-generated waste to make soil far from Earth. Another research team is studying ways to use fungi in structures like solar panels and building blocks.
Center for Biological Diversity | Saving Life on Earth
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Photo credits: Leatherback sea turtle hatchling by Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve/Flickr; March Against Death Alley courtesy Louisiana Bucket Brigade; manatee mother and calf by 1stpix diecast dioramas/Flickr; Georgetown salamander by R.D. Bartlett; sunflower sea star by Kevin Lafferty/USGS; northern long-eared bat by Dave Thomas/Flickr; Clear Lake hitch by Richard Macedo/CDFG; wolf by ardise/Flickr; tractor pollution by United Nations Development Programme in Europe and CIS; bobcat by Neal Herbert; micro-fungi by Illuvis/Pixabay.
Center for Biological Diversity
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