Major Win for Migratory Birds

Endangered Earth: The weekly wildlife update from the Center for Biological Diversity.
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Snowy owl
Center for     Biological     Diversity   

A Lifesaving Victory for Migratory Birds

We're celebrating a thrilling win for migratory birds.

Ruling on a lawsuit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies, on Tuesday a federal judge vacated a Trump-administration policy upending decades of protection for migratory birds and letting polluters off the hook for killing them.

Enacted in 2017, the policy has been deadly. In its wake snowy owls and other raptors have been electrocuted by perching on uninsulated powerlines — with no consequences for the utilities that own them. Oil spills that killed birds have also prompted no penalties.

"The Trump administration's policy was nothing more than a cruel, bird-killing gift to polluters, and we're elated it's been vacated," said the Center's Noah Greenwald. "Birds are in real trouble across the United States. We have to do everything we can to ensure they continue to brighten our skies and sing to us in the morning."

Get more from The Hill.

Pangolin

China's Pangolin Trade Violates Wildlife Trade Treaty

Pangolins are the most heavily trafficked mammals in the world. These animals are consumed in China as a luxury meat, and their scales are used in traditional medicine. Despite recent actions by the Chinese government, pangolin trade continues.

That's why the Center and allies just filed a legal petition urging much-needed action by the Interior Department — it must certify that China is illegally trading pangolins. That's a step that could lead to banning all wildlife imports from the country.

"Pangolins face imminent extinction, yet the Chinese government continues to promote pangolin scales in the traditional medicine trade," said the Center's Sarah Uhlemann. "If we want these odd and adorable creatures to survive, China must act now. Certification by the U.S. would be the wake-up call it needs."

Read more and consider supporting this work with a donation to our Saving Life on Earth Fund.

Northern spotted owl

Take Action: Endangered Species Act Under Attack

The Trump administration just took another wrecking ball to the Endangered Species Act, and wildlife will pay an awful price. A new proposal ignores decades of precedent and changes how "critical habitat" is defined, severely limiting protections for forests, rivers and other areas where endangered species could recover in the future.

For instance, this rule will make it harder to save places where northern spotted owls and dusky gopher frogs don't currently exist — but used to, or could with habitat restoration. The administration is content to fence these species into ever-shrinking areas and plow ahead with development.

Tell the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this new rule must be withdrawn. Already 22 species go extinct every day, and this plan will make things even worse.

California red-legged frog

Today: Protecting People and Wildlife From Pesticides

More than a billion pounds of pesticides are used in the United States each year. For decades, unfortunately, the Environmental Protection Agency has refused to assess their impacts on endangered species or look at some of their most basic effects on human health.

Join us later today for our next Saving Life on Earth webinar to learn what the Center's doing to fight back to protect wildlife and people, especially farmworkers and children, from pesticides — and how you can help.

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.

Lassen pack pups

It's finally here: trail-cam video of pups born this spring to California's only wolf family, the Lassen pack. This is the pack's fourth litter, and this year it has eight adorable pups. Their arrival is a big step forward for wolf recovery in California. Learn more.

North Atlantic right whales

Ship Speed Limits Sought to Save Right Whales

North Atlantic right whales are among the most endangered creatures in the world, once hunted to near extinction. Only about 400 are left, and they're being struck and killed by ships. This year two baby right whales, out of only 10 born in the population, were killed by collisions.

So the Center and allies filed a petition last week asking the National Marine Fisheries Service to strengthen its rules along the Atlantic Coast to cut speeds of all vessels longer than 65 feet.

Read more about it at National Fisherman.

Healthcare worker

Emergency Action Needed to Protect Workers From COVID-19

The Center and other environmental groups teamed up with the country's largest labor unions this week to file a legal petition demanding that the Trump administration take emergency action to provide personal protective equipment to frontline workers, including healthcare providers, teachers and transit operators.

The lead author of the legal petition is our Energy Justice Program Director Jean Su. "We stand in solidarity with workers to stop this tragic, preventable loss of life," she said. "The exploitation of workers is the same type of abuse the administration and corporations inflict on the environment. We'll continue to fight these injustices on all fronts."

Get more from Common Dreams.

Rusty patched bumblebee

Courtroom Roundup: Guam, Puerto Rico, Utah, Minnetonka

What do parts of Guam, Puerto Rico, Louisiana and Indiana have in common? Sulfur dioxide air pollution, as it turns out, which can harm human lungs inside five minutes. So the Center and allies sued this week to push the federal government to clean it up.

In another coalition action, we sued over a handout of $28 million in public money to build a railway in Utah's Uinta Basin for the sole purpose of moving dirty oil and gas. And in Minnetonka, Minnesota, we filed notice of our intent to sue to protect one of the last important refuges of the fast-disappearing rusty patched bumblebee.

Leatherback sea turtle

Leatherback Sea Turtles Are in Deep Trouble

According to a new report, all seven populations of leatherback sea turtles are at high risk of extinction. The West Pacific population, which migrates to California, has dwindled by a third since 2007 — and it's still in decline. Leatherbacks in the Northwest Atlantic have decreased steadily for more than a decade, with low success in hatching eggs, and will decline by half within 30 years if trends continue.

For more than 20 years, the Center has defended leatherbacks from their biggest threat, entanglement in fishing gear. After we sued, California agreed in 2019 to evaluate the risk of leatherback entanglement when deciding when to open and close its Dungeness crab fishery. Last year we also won a suit challenging federal longline fishing permits issued off the West Coast because the agency had disregarded its own science.

Said Center attorney Catherine Kilduff, "To save these magnificent creatures, we have to confront the problems they face, from climate change and plastic pollution to lethal entanglement in fishing nets."

Read more.

The Revelator: One Small Town's Zero-waste Journey

Cans

In 2003 the Japanese town of Kamikatsu vowed to go zero-waste by 2020. What happened? The Revelator examines what worked, what didn't, and what can we learn from it.

Read the article and subscribe to The Revelator's e-newsletter.

San Xavier talussnail

Wild & Weird: Rare Desert Snail Enjoys Annual Outing

The San Xavier talussnail (Sonorella eremita) is one of the rarest snails on the planet. Its whole population lives on a single hill in the Sonoran Desert. These hermaphroditic desert snails can live up to 10 years and stay dormant for up to three; they're generally active for only three to four days annually. Prompted by monsoon rains, they emerge from their homes in rock crevices to feed on lichen.

These beautiful snails are represented in a massive lawsuit by the Center against the Trump administration for its failure to protect 241 endangered species, many on the brink of extinction.

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Photo credits: Snowy owl by Mick Thompson/Flickr; pangolin by Dash Huang/Flickr; northern spotted owl by Frank D. Lospalluto/Flickr; California red-legged frog; Lassen wolf pack pups courtesy CDFW; North Atlantic right whale mother and calf courtesy Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, NOAA Research Permit #594-1759; healthcare worker by SJ Objio/Unsplash; rusty patched bumblebee by Jill Utrup/USFWS; leatherback sea turtle by rustinpc/Flickr; cans by Danny Choo; San Xavier talussnail by Russ McSpadden/Center for Biological Diversity.

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