Help Sought for Tope Sharks
Over the past 80 years, across the globe, tope or “soupfin” sharks have declined by 88% — so the Center for Biological Diversity and allies just petitioned the National Marine Fisheries Service to protect them under the Endangered Species Act. We’re also requesting the designation of critical habitat for these slender, silvery sharks, who can grow to be more than 6 feet long, weigh nearly 100 pounds, and live up to 60 years.
“Tope sharks are spiraling toward extinction because of shark fin soup and a disregard for how many are killed as bycatch in other fisheries,” said Center Senior Scientist Kristin Carden. “The federal government has to move quickly to safeguard these incredibly imperiled animals.”
Win for California’s Western Joshua Trees
Joshua trees and their fragile desert ecosystem just scored a huge victory: On Wednesday a judge rejected an effort by construction and real estate interests, along with the city of Hesperia, to strip away legal protections for the imperiled western Joshua tree.
“Before California state protections took effect, developers were bulldozing Joshua trees by the thousands to build roads, power lines, strip malls and vacation rentals,” said Brendan Cummings, the Center’s conservation director and a Joshua Tree resident. “If these beautiful plants are to have any hope of surviving in a warming world, we have to stop killing them.”
Suit Filed to Stop Utah Oil Rail Line
Along with our allies, the Center sued the U.S. Surface Transportation Board on Friday over a major new rail line planned to be blasted through Utah’s Uinta Basin by 2024.
Dedicated to transporting crude oil toward Gulf Coast refineries, the railway would boost the basin’s oil production so much that over the next 15 years, it could generate 53 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year.
Check out an op-ed by the Center’s Randi Spivak on how this climate-killing project would undermine President Biden’s promise to tackle global warming.
California Bill Would Ban Offshore Drilling
Inspired by recent disasters like October’s big oil spill off Orange County, a new bill in the California Senate would finally phase out offshore oil and gas drilling in the state’s coastal waters. Senate Bill 953 would require the State Lands Commission to end all remaining oil and gas leases in California state waters by the close of 2023.
“Decade after decade, offshore drilling has fouled our beaches, poisoned our ocean and killed our wildlife,” said Miyoko Sakashita, director of the Center’s Oceans program. “It’s time to get this dirty, dangerous and utterly reckless industry out of our coastal waters.”
Rare Milkweed to Gain Protection
Prostrate milkweed — so named for its low-growing, ground-hugging habits — has just been proposed for federal protection following a Center lawsuit. The plant flowers in yellow and pink and serves up copious nectar to bees and tarantula hawks. Only 24 populations remain, in Texas and northern Mexico.
“I’m hopeful that Endangered Species Act protection will keep the prostrate milkweed flowering in south Texas for generations to come,” said Michael Robinson at the Center. “This fascinating plant secured a sunny niche in tough landscapes long ago, but it’s being driven toward extinction by human development. Federal action is crucial.”
Check Out Our Winter Membership Newsletter
This winter's Endangered Earth, the Center's print newsletter, is now available online. Read about our biggest wins of 2021 across all 10 of our programs and get to know seven of "the Lost 23" — the 23 irreplicable animals and plants declared extinct last year. Also in this issue: a letter from our Executive Director Kierán Suckling honoring the wandering wolf OR-93 and another pilgrim predator.
We make this members-only newsletter available to online supporters to thank you for taking action — but please consider becoming a member today and helping even more. Just call us toll free at 1-866-357-3349 x 323 or visit our website to learn more and donate.
IUCN Falters on Diseases From Wildlife Trade
A new peer-reviewed study by 20 global experts in medicine, biology, conservation and economics reinforces the need to do everything we can to prevent disease outbreaks before they start — including limiting wildlife trade and reducing deforestation, which contribute to the spread of disease from animals to humans.
Another new study, from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), instead argues for a business-as-usual approach in wildlife trade and exploitation, claiming it isn’t worth focusing on when discussing pathogen risk.
Which study is right? Find out in this new Medium piece, coauthored by the Center’s International Legal Director Tanya Sanerib.
Revelator: The Boreal Forest’s Warning
The Treeline, a new book by Ben Rawlence, explains how climate change is causing far-reaching shifts in one of our most important ecosystems. Trees at the edge of the Arctic, where boreal forest meets tundra, have been hit by our changing climate for decades — and their reactions sound a warning for the rest of the planet.
Is it too late to respond? Read more in The Revelator and sign up for the weekly newsletter if you haven’t yet.
That’s Wild: Dr. Chimp Will See You Now
We already know chimpanzees are smart. But smart enough to practice medicine?
Well … in a way, according to researchers at the Loango Chimpanzee Project in Gabon. They recently captured video of chimps catching flying insects and applying them to their own open wounds and wounds on other chimps. Scientists don’t yet know which insects are being used, but the bugs may contain anti-inflammatory substances that have a comforting effect — basically, medicine.
Learn more from USA TODAY and watch a video of a chimp mother applying an insect to her son’s wound on YouTube or Facebook.
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Photo credits: Tope shark in public domain; Joshua trees by Christopher Michel/Flickr; vaquita by Barbara Taylor/NOAA; path of Uinta railway by Ryan Beam/Center for Biological Diversity; prostrate milkweed by bikenhikenm/Flickr; Huntington Beach oil spill by John Fleming/Center for Biological Diversity; gray wolf by Jacob Frank/NPS; seized monkey by Interpol; black spruce trees by Daniel Case; screenshot of chimpanzee video by Loango Chimpanzee Project.
Center for Biological Diversity
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