People vs. Pipelines: A Week of Stunning Victories

Endangered Earth: The weekly wildlife update from the Center for Biological Diversity.
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Celebrate 3 Key Victories Over Oil and Gas Pipelines

Oil and gas pipelines are crucial battlegrounds when it comes to protecting people, wildlife, waterways and our climate.

That's why we're celebrating three monumental wins that came in quick succession this week: a judge's order to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline, the U.S. Supreme Court's rejection of a bid to help restart the Keystone XL pipeline, and the cancellation of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Each victory is a testament to the power of people coming together to resist dangerous fossil fuel projects.

Thanks to everyone who has supported the grassroots, legal and scientific work that led to these key wins. The fight isn't over, but we're happy about these important steps in the right direction.

Yellowstone grizzly bears

Win: Protections for Yellowstone Grizzlies Upheld

In a tremendous victory for Yellowstone's grizzly bears, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday upheld a 2018 federal ruling that the Trump administration violated the Endangered Species Act in stripping protections from the iconic animals.

Ruling that Yellowstone grizzly bears must remain protected under the Act, the court said a commitment to increase population size is needed to ensure the bears' long-term viability and described the grizzly as "an iconic symbol of the Rocky Mountain west."

"Grizzlies still have a long way to go before recovery," said the Center for Biological Diversity's Andrea Zaccardi. "Hunting these beautiful animals around America's most treasured national park should never again be an option."

Get more from The Hill.

Desert tortoise

Take Action: Save Nevada's Desert National Wildlife Refuge

Desert National Wildlife Refuge is the largest refuge in the lower 48 and home to many rare and threatened species, including bighorn sheep and desert tortoises. But now this Nevada treasure is at risk of being dismantled.

In an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, the Democrat-led House Armed Services Committee has greenlighted giving 850,000 acres of the Desert Refuge to the Air Force for use as an industrial training center.

This massive land grab will allow some of the West's most pristine habitat to be destroyed. And it'll set a devastating precedent for giveaways of our national wildlife refuge system.

If you haven't taken action yet, tell the committee reverse this dangerous decision and stand up for the refuge and its precious wildlife.

Santa Rita Mountains

Arizona's Santa Rita Mountains are famous for their natural beauty and wildlife, including rare ocelots and jaguars. These sky islands rise up from the ancestral land of the Tohono O'odham, who call the range Ce: wi Duag, or "Long Mountain." But a Canadian mining company wants to blast a mile-wide, open-pit copper mine in the middle of this priceless place. For over a decade, a coalition of organizations and local governments has successfully held off the mine. In this video Austin Nuñez, chairman of the San Xavier District of the Tohono O'odham Nation, and allies tell a tale of resistance. Directed by Leslie Ann Epperson. Watch it on Facebook or YouTube.


Today: A Discussion on Contraception and Conservation

Every day we add about 227,000 people to the planet — and that comes with a steep cost. Human population growth and overconsumption are at the root of our most pressing environmental problems, like the wildlife extinction crisis, habitat loss and climate change.

Join us later today for our next Saving Life on Earth discussion. You'll learn how the Center tackles these critical issues — including with our famous Endangered Species Condoms project, which has jump-started thousands of conversations nationwide.

Today's presentation will feature the Center's Population and Sustainability Campaigner Kelley Dennings and Endangered Species Condoms Coordinator Sarah Baillie.

The hour-long webinar starts at 4 p.m. PT / 7 p.m. ET. It's free, but you have to sign up.


Wolverine Protection to Be Decided by Aug. 31

The future of wolverine protections will be clearer by the end of the summer.

As part of a legal agreement reached with the Center and allies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must decide by Aug. 31 whether wolverines in the lower 48 states should be protected under the Endangered Species Act.

There are fewer than 300 wolverines left in the contiguous United States. Also threatened by genetic isolation and small population size, they're being pushed to the brink by climate change, which reduces the spring snowpack they need for denning.

Federal protection for these amazing, fierce animals is long overdue. We hope the Service will finally do the right thing.

Get more from Missoula Current.

Two Turtles Move Toward Protection

Pascagoula map turtle

Following a lawsuit by the Center and Healthy Gulf, two rare southern map turtles are closer to protection under the Endangered Species Act. In a recent legal settlement, the Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to decide by Oct. 29, 2021, whether it will protect Pascagoula and Pearl River map turtles.

Both turtles are threatened by habitat loss and degradation, collection for sale in Asian food and medicinal markets, and collection for the pet trade.

Get more from KOB 4 Eyewitness News.

Rare Agave Saved From Arizona Gold Mine — for Now

Hassayampa River

After the Center submitted formal objections, the Prescott National Forest has decided not to proceed with a controversial gold mine on Arizona's Hassayampa River. The River Bend Placer Mine project could devastate the imperiled Phillip's agave, a rare plant domesticated by Native Americans who farmed on the site of the mine between 500 and 1,000 years ago. The mine could also harm the river and surrounding habitat — so we'll be on the lookout for future attempts to push it forward.

Read more in The Arizona Republic.

Revelator: How to Save Thailand's Elephants During COVID-19

Elephants in Thailand

The pandemic has confined many of us to our homes. According to a new piece in The Revelator, this is making things worse for Thailand's thousands of captive elephants. With the country's tourism sector shut down, the animals in its many "elephant camps" are starving and may be sent to beg for food on city streets or used for illegal labor. "We believe rewilding captive elephants provides a solution," says the author.

Read more and follow The Revelator on Facebook and Twitter.

Crop spraying

Tune In: The Pesticide Tearing Apart Rural Communities

Lori Ann Burd, the Center's Environmental Health program director, recently appeared on NPR's "Living on Earth" to talk about our recent big win on the destructive herbicide dicamba.

In 2017 the Environmental Protection Agency approved dicamba for use on soybeans and cotton genetically engineered to withstand what would normally be a deadly dose of the pesticide. But dicamba can drift from spray sites for miles, destroying nearby fields, orchards and home gardens. The resulting damage has affected millions of acres — in one case it even caused a conflict between neighboring farmers that led to murder.

Thanks to a lawsuit by the Center and allies, a federal appeals court held that the EPA's registration of dicamba products for over-the-top use on soybeans and cotton was unlawful.

Tune in to learn more from Lori Ann about how the EPA has bent over backward for the pesticide industry — and how our recent win's playing out.

White-throated sparrow

Wild & Weird: In Canada, a Sparrow Song Goes Viral

In the 1990s researchers in western Canada noticed a local variant of the song of white-throated sparrows — ending with two notes rather than three.

There are well-documented cases of bird species changing their song over time. But new dialects tend to stay local instead of replacing the traditional song more widely.

In this case, though, a study found that the once-rare two-note song went "viral" among birds across more than 1,800 miles of Canada between 2000 and 2019. Now it has completely replaced the historic song in the region. Nobody knows why sparrows found the two-note ending so catchy.

"As far as we know, it's unprecedented," says Ken Otter, senior author of the research. "We don't know of any other study that has ever seen this sort of spread through cultural evolution of a song type."

Read more at EurekAlert! and listen to both versions of the song on Facebook or YouTube.

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Photo credits: Sacred Stone Camp by Joe Brusky/Flickr; Yellowstone grizzly bears by I-Ting Chiang; desert tortoise by Sandy Redding/Flickr; Santa Rita Mountains by Leslie Ann Epperson; butterfly by Tom Koerner/USFWS; wolverine by Mathias Appel/Flickr; Pascagoula map turtle by Grover Brown; Hassayampa River by Sheila Sund/Wikimedia; elephants in Thailand by Ahmed Messaoud/Flickr; crop spraying by Tamina Miller/Flickr; white-throated sparrow by Karl-Heinz Müller/Flickr.

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