Lawsuit Launched to Save Homes of 49 Hawaiian Species
With its unique, marvelous biodiversity — and under formidable pressure from invasive species, destructive land uses and now climate change — Hawai’i has long been a hotbed of extinction. The Center for Biological Diversity and our Hawaiian allies are determined to save the species that are close to the brink.
So on Wednesday we filed notice of our plan to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to make it protect critical habitat for 49 endangered Hawaiian species — from the ‘Akē‘akē, or band-rumped storm-petrel, to the Nalo Meli Maoli, or Hawaiian yellow-faced bee. None of these 49 animals and plants are found anywhere else in the world. They were protected as endangered in 2016 but have never received the protected habitat they need to survive.
“Given the passage of nearly six years, it’s doubtful the Service was ever going to protect habitat for these 49 species,” said Maxx Phillips, Hawai’i director at the Center. “This is an agency that’s not doing its job to protect species from extinction. It’s badly in need of reform and more resources.”
Eastern Monarchs Still Hover Near Extinction
The just-released yearly count of eastern monarch butterflies — those overwintering in Mexico — found them occupying just 7 acres (or 2.84 hectares) of habitat. That’s slightly more than last year but still below the 6-hectare threshold scientists say these butterflies need to be out of the extinction danger zone in North America. Overall eastern monarchs have declined by around 85% since the mid-1990s.
“The decline of monarchs tells the story of the extinction crisis unfolding in the United States as policymakers fail to take the bold actions necessary to save wildlife habitat and rein in climate change,” said Center biologist Tierra Curry.
Help us save monarchs and other species with a doubled gift to our Saving Life on Earth Fund.
Fracking Prevented on 35,000 Colorado Acres
Following a suit by the Center and our allies, a federal judge just nixed a plan that would have allowed fracking across 35,000 acres of Colorado’s Western Slope. The fracking would’ve damaged national forest habitat for elk, black bear and imperiled Canada lynx, along with drinking water for downstream communities — all while creating some 52 million tons of greenhouse gas pollution.
“The judge’s order has spared forests, creeks and wildlife from fracking industrialization and prevented dangerous climate pollution along Colorado’s spectacular Western slope,” said the Center’s Taylor McKinnon. “Now it’s time for President Biden to keep his promise and stop all new oil and gas expansion on our public lands and waters.”
Suit Aims to Save Dunes Sagebrush Lizards
Last Thursday the Center sued the Fish and Wildlife Service for delaying — seemingly infinitely — a decision on whether to give Endangered Species Act protection to dunes sagebrush lizards.
The agency has avoided protecting the lizards, who live in highly specialized shinnery oak habitat in the Permian Basin of West Texas and southeast New Mexico, for four decades. We first petitioned to protect them in 2002.
“We won’t stand by while the last dunes sagebrush lizards disappear,” said the Center’s Michael Robinson. “Even as the oil and gas industry ruins our climate, it’s also destroying these sand-dwelling lizards’ last homes.”
Watchdog Confronts EPA About Deadly Flea Collars
As of April the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had gotten more than 98,000 complaints linking Seresto flea collars to harms in pets — including 2,500 death reports. Now the EPA’s Office of Inspector General is investigating whether the agency broke the law by not taking action.
The Center obtained documents showing that EPA’s own scientists were extremely frustrated by their agency’s inaction — but were told not to email anyone about growing safety concerns.
“The EPA’s failure to take any steps to protect beloved family pets after almost 100,000 complaints is a sad reminder of the pesticide industry’s outsized influence on the agency,” said Center scientist Nathan Donley.
Learn About Terrapins for #WildTurtleWeek
With diamond-patterned shells and speckled skin, diamondback terrapins are a keystone species in the salt marshes and mangroves of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. They help keep those ecosystems healthy by eating the marsh snails whose overabundance can harm them.
Late last year we successfully petitioned Florida wildlife officials to adopt a rule protecting these terrapins from wild collection and drowning in recreational blue crab traps. Now we’re celebrating these beautiful little reptiles for #WildTurtleWeek. Learn more about diamondback terrapins on our website.
Petition Filed to Make Pesticide Labels Safer
The Center petitioned the EPA on Tuesday to make pesticide labels safer for farmworkers and endangered species. Our petition asks the EPA to require all pesticide labels in both Spanish and English; to include warnings about endangered species for all pesticides used outdoors; and to restrict pesticide use in endangered species critical habitat in Hawai‘i, which would provide much-needed protection for nearly 500 endangered species.
“For decades the EPA has known that pesticide labels fail to protect farmworkers and endangered species, but it has failed to address these problems,” said Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director at the Center. “It’s long past time for the EPA to follow through with its promises to prioritize our most vulnerable people and wildlife and put commonsense measures in place.”
That’s Wild: Salamanders Who Soar
One species of small, tan-colored amphibian spends most of its life in mats of ferns near the tops of some of the world’s tallest trees: California’s majestic coastal redwoods.
These wandering salamanders, Aneides vagrans, can leap off the towering giants and not just fall straight down but glide — they can slow their descent and even change direction. Learn more and watch a video of their aerial acrobatics.