Standing Up for Grizzlies in the North Cascades

Endangered Earth: The weekly wildlife update from the Center for Biological Diversity.
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Grizzly bear cub
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Lawsuit Defends Plan to Protect North Cascades Grizzlies

The Center for Biological Diversity just sued the Trump administration for ending a critical program aimed at restoring grizzly bears to Washington state's North Cascades. In the past decade, biologists have only been sure of two grizzlies living in the region (and those bears were actually across the border in Canada). 

The recovery of North Cascades grizzlies — in fact, their survival — depends on transporting bears from more robust populations, which is one of the key parts of the program Trump nixed. 

"The Trump administration's purely political decision to axe this conservation program was a massive blow to the grizzly bear recovery program," said Center lawyer Andrea Zaccardi. "We're hopeful our lawsuit will put grizzly bears in the North Cascades back on the road to recovery — instead of extinction."

Polar bear

Stopping Trump's Last-ditch Attack on the Arctic

Trump's assault on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has accelerated since he lost the election. 

First he announced plans to auction off oil and gas leases on 1.5 million acres of the refuge. 

Then he issued a proposed permit for seismic testing that will let 45-ton thumper trucks, tractors and bulldozers roll across fragile tundra all day, all night, for weeks at a time. It will wreak terrible harm on the refuge's polar bears and other wildlife.  

But the Center and allies just filed a motion in court to block that permit — and any other oil and gas activity in this magnificent refuge. And we can win: Last week we helped stop Hilcorp's Liberty project, which would have let offshore drilling devastate Arctic waters. 

We need your help. Please, join our fight for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge today with a matched gift to the Saving Life on Earth Fund.

Monarch butterfly

Monarch Butterflies Waitlisted for Protection

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Tuesday that Endangered Species Act protection for monarchs is "warranted but precluded." That puts the butterflies in a bureaucratic limbo where they get no protection even though they desperately need it.

The iconic black-and-orange pollinators are in drastic decline because of pesticides, climate change and other threats, which is why in 2014 the Center and allies petitioned to have them listed as "threatened" under the Act. The most recent population counts show a decline of 85% for the eastern U.S. population and 99% for monarchs west of the Rockies — both well below the thresholds at which their annual migrations could collapse. 

"Not only are monarchs beautiful, but they play important roles in nature and culture, and their migrations are jaw-dropping," said the Center's Tierra Curry. "We owe them and future generations an all-in commitment to their recovery."

Wolverine

Suit Filed to Force Protection of Climate-imperiled Wolverines

The Center and partners filed suit this week over the Fish and Wildlife Service's repeated refusal to give Endangered Species Act protection to wolverines in the lower 48 states, where only about 300 of the fierce, snow-loving animals are left. 

Wolverines once ranged all the way from Canada down to the mountains of New Mexico and California. The Center joined the fight to save them in 2008, but despite several favorable court decisions — including an opinion from a Montana judge telling the Fish and Wildlife Service to safeguard the animal "at the earliest possible, defensible moment in time" — wolverines have gotten no help at all.

"The future of the wolverine in the lower 48 is on a knife edge," says the Center's Andrea Zaccardi.

Judge Halts Plan to Frack 60,000 Acres in Utah

Steamboat Rock, Dinosaur National Monument

Thanks to a lawsuit by Center and allies, a judge just overturned the Trump administration's plan to lease out more than 60,000 acres of public land for fracking in northern Utah's Uintah Basin, including areas near Dinosaur National Monument.
 
"This is a strong rebuke of Trump's disastrous fracking frenzy across our public lands, which is destroying the climate, wildlife and frontline communities," said the Center's Taylor McKinnon. "President-elect Biden's ban on new federal fossil fuel leasing can't come soon enough."

The Revelator: The Perils of Plastics

Plastic pollution on Singapore beach

Wondering why plastic pollution's in the news more often these days? Check out The Revelator's new piece "5 Things to Know About Plastic Pollution" to find out what makes plastics such a scourge — and what you can do to help tackle the problem.

And if you haven't already, follow The Revelator on Facebook and Twitter.

Trump Rule Mangles Protections for Species Nationwide

Whooping crane

In one of the biggest-ever blows to the strongest U.S. law for protecting animals and plants, Trump finalized a rule this week undermining the government's ability to protect their homes. It redefines what will be protected as critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act as only places that can now support the species. That leaves out places the species used to live that could be restored, plus areas that could provide crucial refuges as climate change shifts where they're able to survive. 

The rule will have devastating consequences for some of America's most iconic species.

Wombat

Wild & Weird: The Amazing, Skull-crushing Wombat Butt 

Wombat rumps are fascinating — rock hard, with four bone plates, connected by cartilage, lurking beneath the fur. The tushies are versatile: Wombats use them for defense, burrowing, bonding and mating. 

But there's something else. Crushed fox skulls are commonly found at the entrances of wombat burrows, leading some scientists to hypothesize their keisters are also used for noggin-crushing attacks on predators.

Read more at The Guardian.

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Photo credits: Grizzly bear cub by Mick Thompson/Flickr; polar bear courtesy NPS Climate Change Response/Flickr; monarch butterfly by Lee Jaffe/Flickr; wolverine by Larry Master; Steamboat Rock in Dinosaur National Monument by arbyreed/Flickr; plastic pollution on Singapore beach by Vaidehi Shah; whooping crane by Bill VanderMolen/Flickr; wombat by Ian Sutton/Flickr.

Center for Biological Diversity
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