Rare Whales Protected From Big Oil's Seismic Blasting

Endangered Earth: The weekly wildlife update from the Center for Biological Diversity.
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North Atlantic right whales
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Win for Whales: In the Atlantic, Seismic Blasting Halted

The oil industry can't search the Atlantic Ocean for oil via seismic blasting this year — and maybe not for several years, according to announcements made in court last week. Permits to harm and harass ocean animals, including critically endangered North Atlantic right whales, with the blasting will expire Nov. 30 and not be renewed.

Seismic testing blasts the seafloor with high-powered airguns, then measures the echoes to map offshore oil and gas reserves. In the process it disturbs, injures and even kills marine wildlife.

This is a victory for the Center for Biological Diversity, other conservation groups and coastal communities that have been fighting for years to stop the oil industry's Atlantic airgun bombardment.

Read more in The Washington Post and support our work to protect endangered North Atlantic right whales and other vulnerable species with a donation to our Saving Life on Earth Fund.

Wolverine

Take Action: Defend Critical Habitat for Wildlife

Today is the last day to tell federal officials to stop weakening the Endangered Species Act and maintain habitat protections for our nation's most vulnerable plants and animals.

The latest rollback is the third time the current administration has moved to weaken habitat protections for endangered species. If finalized the new rule would greatly expand the government's ability to avoid protecting important areas that species need to survive. And it would let polluters and developers veto any critical habitat designation they didn't like by claiming it would hurt business — without showing proof.

Tell the feds to withdraw this dangerous proposal and maintain current habitat protections. Wildlife can't survive without a place to live.

Border wall

The border wall is going up across Arizona, ripping through national monuments, sacred sites, wilderness areas and communities. The new construction is often described in the media as mere "replacement" for existing barriers — but that's far from the true story. Center staff took journalist Jacob Soboroff and MSNBC to the border for a closer look. Watch on Facebook or Twitter.

Red wolf

A Key Victory for Rare Red Wolves

After a lawsuit by the Center, a new legal victory requires the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to update its plan for saving critically endangered red wolves.

Red wolves, native to the southeastern United States, have dwindled to just nine known wild individuals in eastern North Carolina.

Last year the Center identified five potential reintroduction sites on public lands that together could support nearly 500 breeding pairs of red wolves. But the agency has not taken steps to reintroduce red wolves elsewhere and has stopped taking other actions to conserve the remaining wild population.

"With only nine wolves known to remain in the wild, the red wolf desperately needed this good news," said the Center's Collette Adkins.

If you spoke up for red wolves through a recent Center alert, thank you. You made a difference.

Tule elk at Point Reyes

Take Action: Point Reyes Elk Under the Gun

The National Park Service may soon finalize an outrageous management plan for California's Point Reyes National Seashore that would enshrine for-profit agriculture as the park's main use, letting overgrazing livestock damage public lands. The plan would let ranchers convert park grasslands to row crops and introduce damaging sheep, goats, chickens and pigs. It would also let the agency immediately shoot more than 50 rare tule elk and kill 15 more every year to appease livestock owners.

Outraged? Tell the Park Service to reject this plan.

Bobcat

USDA's 'Wildlife Services' Killed 1.2M Native Animals

According to its own just-released data, in 2019 the multimillion-dollar federal program misleadingly named Wildlife Services killed an astonishing 2.2 million animals, about 1.2 million of which were native species. Among the animals it intentionally killed were 301 gray wolves, 300 mountain lions, 393 black bears and 61,882 adult coyotes (not including pups killed in 251 destroyed dens). The program unintentionally killed more than 2,624 animals, including bears, bobcats, a wolf and mountain lions.

Last year Wildlife Services used even more M-44 cyanide bombs than in 2018, poisoning nearly 8,200 animals. Of those 209 were unintentional victims, including a black bear, dozens of foxes and two dogs.

"I'm sickened by the thought of intelligent and beautiful animals like wolves and mountain lions suffering and dying from poisons and in strangulation snares and cruel leghold traps," said the Center's Collette Adkins. "We're doing everything we can to shut down the Wildlife Services program."

Learn more.

Bi-state sage grouse

Courtroom Roundup: Sage Grouse and Crayfish

Following up on our 2010 petition to protect the Panama City crayfish — plus our 2013 lawsuit for the species — we sued again this week to force the feds to safeguard this Florida marsh-dweller, which now lives in only one county. The Fish and Wildlife Service was supposed to finalize protection in 2018 but has been dragging its feet for years.

Along with allies we also sued the Service for another failure-to-protect, in this case the imperiled bi-state sage grouse of California and Nevada. "It's disturbing to see officials double down on voluntary measures that have failed to work, even as the bi-state sage grouse population keeps plummeting," said Center attorney Lisa Belenky. "Without the legal protection of the Endangered Species Act, multiple threats will push these beautiful grouse to extinction."

Center Writer Lydia Millet Is National Book Award Finalist

Lydia Millet

Our Staff Writer Lydia Millet has won honors throughout her decades-long career as a fiction writer. Now her new novel A Children's Bible is a finalist for the prestigious National Book Award.

"A tornado tearing along an unpredictable path through our complacency," as The Washington Post describes it, A Children's Bible tells of a group of young people left to confront climate disaster while the adults lounge around and booze it up.

Our favorite synopsis, via The New York Times: "It's a tale in which whoever or whatever comes after us might recognize, however imperfectly, a certain continuity: an exotic but still decodable shred of evidence from the lost world that is the world we are living in right now."

National Book Award winners will be announced Nov. 18. Congratulations, Lydia!

Learn more about Lydia Millet and check out this New York Times piece on the finalists.

San Joaquin kit foxes

California Wildlife Protected From Super-toxic Rat Poisons

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the California Ecosystems Protection Act (A.B. 1788) into law last week, putting greater restrictions — with limited exceptions — on the use of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides to protect the state's native wildlife.

Rodents that eat these long-lasting poisons are in turn eaten by other animals. That means painful deaths for mountain lions, bobcats, hawks and endangered species like Pacific fishers, spotted owls and San Joaquin kit foxes.

"We can protect public health without threatening California's wildlife," said the Center's Jonathan Evans. "With safer, cost-effective alternatives available today, there's no reason to leave the worst-of-the-worst poisons on the market."

If you spoke up in favor for the bill through a recent Center action alert, thank you.

Revelator: Bees Face a Perfect Storm of Threats

Rusty patched bumblebee

Threats to bees — from habitat loss to pollution to pesticides — have been piling up over recent years. And now, according to The Revelator, they're facing a pandemic of their own caused by Nosema fungal pathogens. Commercial U.S. honeybee colonies declined by more than a quarter-million between April and June 2020, while 1 in 4 North American native bees risks extinction. Luckily research has found new potential solutions.

Read more and follow The Revelator on Facebook and Twitter.

Bohar snapper

Wild & Weird: Like a Fish in a Zoom Meeting

Zoom meetings can be awkward. Sometimes it's hard to focus on video-encounter etiquette. Whoops — did you forget to mute yourself before yelling at your kid to keep it down? Show up with a bad case of bedhead or food on your face?

If you're guilty of Zoom snafus, you may feel a sense of solidarity watching this huge Bohar snapper try to navigate a camera at Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. Of the more than 400 species of fish living there, not a single one knows how to behave on a video call.

Watch our new video on Facebook or YouTube.

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Photo credits: North Atlantic right whales courtesy Sea to Shore Alliance/NOAA, under NOAA Permit #15488; wolverine by wildfaces/Pixabay; border wall by Russ McSpadden/Center for Biological Diversity; red wolf by OnceAndFutureLaura/Flickr; Point Reyes tule elk by Rick Derevan/Flickr; bobcat by Lee Jaffe/Flickr; bi-state sage grouse courtesy USFWS; Lydia Millet by Nola Millet Suckling; San Joaquin kit foxes courtesy USFWS; rusty patched bumblebee by Jill Utrup/USFWS; Bohar snapper by Ian Shive/USFWS.

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