Two Ice Seal Species in Alaska Win Habitat Protection
Bearded seals and ringed seals depend on Arctic sea ice for their survival — ice that’s melting due to climate change. Now, after nearly 15 years of advocacy by the Center for Biological Diversity, NOAA Fisheries has admitted as much — and is protecting critical habitat for these charismatic animals in the Bering, Chukchi and Beaufort seas.
Bearded seals are known for their mustachioed appearance and elaborate courtship songs. They give birth and nurse their pups on pack ice, while ringed seals — named for the light-gray rings on their fur — have their pups in snow caves on top of sea ice.
“This announcement is fantastic news,” said Emily Jeffers, a Center attorney. “But as the sea ice continues to disappear, we need bolder action. Bearded and ringed seals could go extinct if we don’t dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and phase out Arctic oil and gas drilling.”
The Center petitioned to protect both species in 2008, and the Obama administration listed them in 2012. Federal courts have rejected oil-industry challenges to their protection.
Nevada Toads Get Emergency Protection
Dixie Valley toads are in acute danger of extinction from a geothermal plant that threatens their only home, a spring-fed wetland in Churchill County, Nevada. We’ve been fighting for these little toads for five years through a petition and multiple lawsuits — one of which just produced a lifesaving agreement. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will immediately protect these rare creatures on an emergency basis while it considers whether to give them permanent safeguards.
“This decision comes in the nick of time for Dixie Valley toads, who are staring down the barrel of extinction,” the Center’s Patrick Donnelly told The New York Times.
Mexican Gray Wolf Numbers Hover Around 200
The wild population of Mexican gray wolves grew by 10 last year, up to 196 individuals — a small population gain considering that 2021 saw the release of 22 captive-born pups into the dens of unrelated wolves, in a gambit to boost genetic diversity.
“I’m concerned that high pup mortality is part of the problem,” said the Center’s Michael Robinson. “Rather than putting pups into unrelated wolves’ dens, moms, dads and pups should all begin new lives in the wild together.”
The Center has worked for decades to save Mexican wolves — starting with our 1990 lawsuit that led to their reintroduction. Help us fight for them with a gift to our Saving Life on Earth Fund.
Sunflower Is Latest Endangered Species Act Success
The Fish and Wildlife Service just changed the protected status of beach layia — a small sunflower that grows only in California’s coastal dunes — from endangered to threatened because of reduced threats from offroad vehicles, grazing and development.
“The lovely beach layia has benefited immensely from protection under the Endangered Species Act and is heading toward recovery,” said the Center’s Jeff Miller. “Its gorgeous white, yellow and purple flowers are now adorning more than 600 acres of our dunes.”
Coalition Pushes Massive Utility to Shape Up
The Center and dozens of allies just launched the Clean Up TVA Coalition.
With the nation’s largest public power provider planning to convert two coal plants to methane plants — and adding 149 miles of pipeline — the coalition is demanding TVA start cutting its emissions now to transition to a clean energy future by 2030.
“People are fed up with this utility bowing to the fossil fuel industry,” said Gaby Sarri-Tobar, with the Center’s Energy Justice program. “TVA officials have raked in profits by ignoring the climate emergency while its customers face skyrocketing utility bills and climate catastrophes. We’re holding their feet to the fire.”
Bill Would Ban Wildlife-Killing Contests
More than a dozen members of Congress introduced legislation on Tuesday that would outlaw wildlife-killing contests on more than 500 million acres. The contests have already been banned in eight states; the new bill would require agencies to ban them across the nation’s federal public lands.
Thousands of important native carnivores and other wildlife — including coyotes, foxes, bobcats, mountain lions, prairie dogs and even wolves — are killed during these competitions every year.
“It’s time for us to end the mass slaughter contests of America’s wild carnivores once and for all,” said Stephanie Kurose, a senior policy specialist at the Center.
Revelator: How Oil Development Hurts These Forests
New research shows that oil drilling in Canada’s boreal forest is changing how wolves, caribou, bears and other species interact. Woodland caribou have declined alarmingly — but it’s not the wolves’ fault.
Learn more in The Revelator, and don’t miss out on the e-newsletter bringing you each week’s best environmental articles and essays.
98 Lawmakers Join Our Call for Bold Climate Action
Ever since President Biden took office, the Center and allies have been pressing him to use executive action — which doesn’t need congressional approval — to declare a climate emergency and reject fossil fuel expansion.
Now almost 100 federal legislators have joined us.
This spring the 98-strong Congressional Progressive Caucus unveiled its list of priority executive actions — including to help us avoid climate change’s worst effects before it’s too late.
Acknowledging stalled climate progress in Congress, the caucus is pushing the president to declare a climate emergency, ban crude oil exports, ban federal fossil fuel leasing, and use the Defense Production Act to manufacture renewable energy technologies.
That’s Wild: Fugitive Flamingo Seen 17 Years Later
On July 4, 2005, African flamingo No. 492 evaded keepers at the Sedgwick County Zoo in Kansas and took flight in the middle of a thunderstorm.
Fast forward to March 10, 2022, nearly 17 years later: The pink avian fugitive has been spotted again — now off the coast of Texas, alive and well.
Read more about the flamingo’s adventures at CNN.