Spark of Hope for Rare Firefly

Endangered Earth Online: Your weekly wildlife update.
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Rare Firefly, Gulf Coast Bee Move Toward Protection

Good news for two tiny, rare species: In response to petitions by the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it's considering Endangered Species Act protection for Delaware's Bethany Beach firefly and the Gulf Coast solitary bee.

Both coastal critters are threatened by sea-level rise, runaway development and pesticides.

Protecting the two insects under the Act would be a historic first both for fireflies and native, solitary bees in the continental United States.

"This is great news, but we can't prevent these insects' extinction without actually giving them the emergency-room protection only the Endangered Species Act offers," said Dr. Tara Cornelisse, a Center scientist. "We're losing insects across the globe, and they desperately need our help right now."

Read more in the Patriot-News.

Gila River

Take Action: No Fighter Jet Flights Over the Gila Wilderness

Holloman Air Force Base wants to expand its F-16 pilot training program across southwestern New Mexico and is considering using 7 million acres over the Gila Wilderness and Rio Grande Valley for overflights.

These lands, and the people and wildlife that call them home, would be subjected to very loud noise, potentially dangerous flares and aluminum chaff, and the threat of military aircraft crashes. Local economies that depend on peaceful and unspoiled landscapes — including tourism, ranching and backcountry recreation — would be put at risk.

All this is unnecessary for national defense — the Air Force itself says it can accomplish its F-16 pilot training expansion within existing military airspace.

Take a moment to urge the Air Force not to expand military airspace over the Gila Wilderness and Rio Grande Valley.

Leatherback sea turtle

Courts Slap Down Two Trump Attacks on Environment

In response to Center lawsuits, federal courts have ruled against several anti-environment decisions made by the Trump administration.

Last month a federal court said the National Marine Fisheries Service violated both the Endangered Species and National Environmental Policy acts when it green-lighted longline fishing off California, threatening critically endangered leatherback sea turtles.

And former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's renewal of a livestock operator's grazing permit in eastern Oregon has been overturned. A district court judge found that Zinke's decision to renew "was arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion, not rationally connected to the facts before the agency, inconsistent with the governing statutes and regulations, and an unexplained change in agency practice and procedure." Exactly.

Grand Canyon

Senate Bills Introduced to Protect Rare Species and Lands

Two important bills defending wildlife and wild places have been introduced in the Senate.

In response to the UN scientific report warning that human activities are pushing 1 million species toward extinction, a new bill would provide $20 million per year to some of the most endangered species in the United States. They include butterflies, Hawaiian plants, freshwater mussels and desert fish in the Southwest.

And the Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act, which would make permanent a ban on new uranium mining on about 1 million acres of public land adjacent to Grand Canyon National Park, has been introduced.

Candy-colored Darter Saved From Logging in the South

Candy darter

After opposition by the Center and allies, the U.S. Forest Service announced it's nixing a massive logging project in a West Virginia national forest over concern for the endangered candy darter. We've been helping defend this tiny fish — named for its colorful breeding-season stripes — since a petition in 2010 that, followed by a lawsuit, finally won Endangered Species Act protection for the species.

Read more in the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Snowy egret

New York Times: How Trump Policy Is Killing Birds

Presidents can't pass laws, of course: They make policy on a large scale by interpreting the laws made by Congress. The Trump administration, reported The New York Times on Dec. 24, has reinterpreted the Migratory Bird Treaty Act so radically that it now allows corporations, utilities and other large entities to kill birds with impunity.

Under the new Trump direction on the Act, even a Deepwater Horizon–scale disaster — the 2010 oil spill that killed or injured about a million birds — would not require a company to pay a fine.

"You get the sense this policy is not only bad for birds, it's also cruel," said the Center's Noah Greenwald, who's quoted in the piece.

Read the Times article.


Trump Wall Section in Southeast Arizona Is Bad for Fish

Along with everything else at risk, four species of fish are threatened by a 20-mile section of Donald Trump's wall being built in Arizona's San Bernardino Wildlife Refuge along the U.S.-Mexico border, reported The Guardian on Sunday.

Water being sucked up to build the destructive, xenophobic wall, which the Center and allies have sued to stop, will likely push rare and vulnerable fish — the Yaqui catfish, topminnow, chub and beautiful shiner — closer to extinction.

"There's good reason to believe that the Yaqui fish's only U.S. habitat is drying up as a result of tens or hundreds of thousands of gallons of groundwater being pumped to build the border wall," the Center's Laiken Jordahl told The Guardian.

Read the full piece now.

Laos: Goodbye to the Tiger

Laos tiger

Wild tigers are now believed extinct in Laos, The Revelator recently reported. In 2016 there were still two tigers in the country's forests; a recent study detected none. Snaring in Laos has also likely driven leopards extinct. But there's still hope, if poaching can be beaten.

Read why and subscribe to The Revelator's e-newsletter.

White-tailed jackrabbit

Wild & Weird: Fast Food? You Have to Catch This Rabbit First

The white-tailed jackrabbit is a speedy critter with some serious hops: It can run more than 35 miles per hour and jump as high as 10 to 15 feet in a single bound. It's prey for bobcats, coyotes, wolves, eagles, hawks and owls in its range in western North America.

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Photo credits: Fireflies by Brandon Keim/Flickr; Gila River by Tom Blackwell/Flickr; leatherback courtesy NOAA; Grand Canyon by Aftab Uzzaman/Flickr; candy darter by Todd Crail/University of Toledo; snowy egret by Don McCullough/Flickr; U.S.-Mexico borderlands by Russ McSpadden/Center for Biological Diversity; Laos tiger by Reed Kennedy; white-tailed jackrabbit by Tom Koerner/USFWS.

Center for Biological Diversity
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Tucson, AZ 85702
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