Restoring Wildlife Protections Trump Took Away

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

Giving Owls, Bees and Beetles Back Their Due

It's time to render unto the beasts that which is rightly theirs: protection from going extinct. To restore the safeguards the Trump administration stripped away from them, the Center for Biological Diversity took action this week for northern spotted owls, rusty-patched bumblebees and American burying beetles.

With allies we sued to stop the logging of 3.4 million acres of old-growth forest in the Pacific Northwest that northern spotted owls need to survive. And we sued to give critical habitat to endangered rusty patched bumblebees — the only bees protected so far under the Endangered Species Act.

Just today the Center filed suit to restore endangered status to American burying beetles, whose protections Trump's Fish and Wildlife Service weakened — in a favor to Big Oil — to let their habitat be destroyed for oil and gas development.

Oak Flat

Help Save Oak Flat Now

Arizona's Oak Flat, sacred to Apache and other Native people, is slated for giveaway soon to conglomerate Rio Tinto for a massive, destructive copper mine in the Tonto National Forest. Thankfully Congress is considering the Save Oak Flat Act, which would overturn the land swap and protect this place's profound cultural value and natural beauty.

You can help: Ask your members of Congress to cosponsor the Save Oak Flat Act and help it pass as soon as possible.

Snowy plover and New Mexico meadow jumping mouse

Wins for Tiny Shorebird and Jumping Mouse

Last week we helped win big victories for two small imperiled species.

We prevailed in a 40-year battle to stop off-roading in critical habitat for the rare western snowy plover. The California Coastal Commission has ordered a three-year phaseout of all off-roading at Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area. Thank you for speaking up for these birds through our action alerts — you made a difference.

And with our allies, we reached an agreement with federal agencies to defend the home of New Mexico meadow jumping mice from more damage by trespassing cows and feral horses. Following a 2020 lawsuit, our agreement also forces the feds to finally make a recovery plan for the endangered mouse.


There's a New Jaguar in Town

Researchers have released stunning new footage of a male jaguar, whom they've named "El Bonito," seen just three miles from the U.S.-Mexico border in Sonora, Mexico. Even better: The big cat is a juvenile, which points to the possibility that a female jaguar lives much closer to the United States than previously thought.

Like many others of his kind, El Bonito could one day cross the border. At least seven male jaguars have been detected in the United States in the past 25 years, and all of them migrated from Sonora, Mexico. The last known female jaguar north of the border was killed in Arizona in 1963.

See the footage of El Bonito on Facebook and YouTube.


Montana's Governor Illegally Trapped, Killed Gray Wolf

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte violated his own state's laws to kill a gray wolf near Yellowstone National Park.

He trapped and killed the wolf on a ranch 10 miles north of Yellowstone National Park without first taking a state-required wolf-trapping certification class. The ranch is owned by a media magnate and campaign contributor.

Gianforte's violation comes amidst a war on wildlife waged by Montana's state legislature, which has introduced a slew of bills to expand trapping, snaring and hunting of wolves, black bears and more.

The Center is fighting bills in Montana to stop the spread of wolf hunting and trapping. We're also in court to restore wolves' Endangered Species Act protection in other parts of the lower 48. Support this lifesaving work with a donation to our Wolf Defense Fund.

California drilling

Suit Filed to Stop 7 California Oil and Gas Leases

The Center and allies just sued over a sale of seven public-lands oil and gas parcels in Kern County, California, rushed through in the Trump administration's last weeks. These are the first parcels sold under Trump's flawed 2019 plan, which we also challenged, to open 1 million acres to drilling and fracking — a bad move for the climate, human health, and endangered species like San Joaquin kit foxes and California condors.

"Our public lands are meant for public benefit, not to churn out air pollution and greenhouse gases that harm us all," said Center lawyer Clare Lakewood. "The Biden administration needs to reverse these rushed, reckless industry handouts."

California's Newest Wolf Reaches Fresno County

Wolf OR-93

OR-93, a radio-collared wolf from Oregon who first entered California on Jan. 30, has now made it as far south as Fresno County.

"OR-93 is blowing out all the records for the farthest south a wolf has traveled into California in modern times," said the Center's Amaroq Weiss. "This is truly historic for California, but also demonstrates that wolves naturally travel long distances. If protections are in place to allow them to do so, there's real hope for their future here."

Candy darter

The Fight to Save the Southeast's Beautiful Little Fishes

The rivers of the southeastern United States contain amazing fish diversity — nearly 500 species regionwide. From colorful darters that talk to each other to spiny madtoms, the Southeast's fishes are an irreplaceable treasure — but one that's disappearing due to dams and pollution brought by farms and cities.

For 30 years one organization has been doing more than any other to save these fish. Since 1986, Conservation Fisheries, Inc. has been propagating nongame fish in downtown Knoxville to recover them to the wild. To date, it's successfully propagated more than 70 fish species, including some of the Southeast's most imperiled ones, and reestablished fish populations in 12 streams regionwide.

Learn more about that great work and consider donating to help upgrade the group's facilities so it can save even more fish.

Southern resident orca and calf

Center Op-Ed: We Need to Be Less Noisy in the Ocean

To whales like the orcas of Puget Sound, writes Center Senior Attorney Julie Teel Simmonds, noise in the ocean is a cacophony that's more than a nuisance: It hurts and can even kill. The underwater racket from vessels, construction and other human activities can disorient and disrupt these highly intelligent and sensitive creatures so much that they have a hard time communicating with their mates and young — and echolocating to navigate and find salmon to eat.

That's why the Center had to sue this month to force more study before a massive expansion of Seattle Harbor can bring even more hardships to the beloved, dwindling population of now just 74 orcas known as the Southern Residents.

De Beers Namaqualand Mine

Revelator: Diamond-Mining Destruction Is Forever

The Revelator's latest op-ed shows why De Beers' new marketing campaigns are pure greenwashing. While the company says its latest diamond collections celebrate the "raw beauty of nature untouched by man," it has irreversibly despoiled the landscapes it claims to immortalize, expelling and exploiting the people there.

Says author Matthew Gavin Frank, "It's like an oil company claiming innocence of the environmental consequences of drilling into the seafloor by building a gas tank in the shape of a coral bed."

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

Sperm whale illustration

That's Wild: How Sperm Whales Learned to Avoid Whalers

Whale biologist Hal Whitehead recently uncovered intriguing 19th-century data suggesting sperm whales worked together on strategies to evade whaling ships.

With the help of a team of historians, Whitehead crunched the numbers from 77,649 days of whaling logs, including whalers' complaints that their quarry was getting harder to hunt. He concluded that the whales adapted to the new human threat by teaching each other defensive tactics to avoid being slaughtered.

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Photo credits: Northern spotted owl by John and Karen Hollingsworth/USFWS; Oak Flat by Russ McSpadden/Center for Biological Diversity; snowy plover by Doug Greenberg/Flickr; New Mexico meadow jumping mouse courtesy USFWS; jaguar (see below); wolf by Jethro Taylor/Flickr; California drilling by John Ciccarelli/BLM; wolf OR-93 by Austin James, Jr./Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs; candy darter by Racel Mair/USFWS; Southern Resident orca and calf courtesy NOAA; De Beers Namaqualand Mine, Kleinzee, by Matthew Gavin Frank; sperm whale illustration by Charles Melville Scammon (1825-1911).

Jaguar video by Ganesh Marin, Ph.D. student in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Arizona and a National Geographic Early Career Explorer. He is lead on a research project that's a joint effort of the University of Arizona and the University of Wyoming, in collaboration with the Cuenca Los Ojos Foundation and members from Santa Lucia Conservancy, National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), Phoenix Zoo and Arizona State University.

Center for Biological Diversity
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United States