Take Action for This Rare Tortoise

Endangered Earth: The weekly wildlife update from the Center for Biological Diversity.
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Desert tortoise
Center for     Biological     Diversity   

Help Us Save This Desert Tortoise

An icon of the desert needs your help. Threatened by habitat loss, unnatural wildfires, drought and climate change, the tortoises of Arizona's Sonoran Desert risk disappearing. Despite continued dangers, in 2015 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the tortoises from the waiting list for federal protection.

This August a court order forced the Service to return the tortoises to the list and reconsider them for Endangered Species Act protection. Now's our chance to tell the agency to protect Sonoran desert tortoises before it's too late.

Southern Resident orcas

New Rules Protect Orcas From Boats — but Not Enough

Washington state just voted to finalize rules to protect Southern Resident killer whales from the noise and disturbance of whale-watching boats. Unfortunately the rules still allow those boats in summer, when these critically endangered whales are foraging in the Salish Sea.

"These rules are a step forward, but we can do more," said Sophia Ressler, a Center for Biological Diversity lawyer. "We need to prevent people from loving these beautiful whales to death."

The Center has been working for these orcas since 2001, when we filed the petition that won them Endangered Species Act protection. In the past 20 years, we've worked in and out of court pushing to protect their habitat, craft a recovery plan, and save them from ships and fisheries. The campaign continues, but we need your help. Please, join our fight today with a matched gift to the Saving Life on Earth Fund.

Polar bear sow and cub

Lawsuit Filed to Stop Arctic Oil Scheme

The Center and allies, represented by Earthjustice, filed suit this week challenging a massive ConocoPhillips oil and gas project in Alaska's Western Arctic. It would be much larger than nearby oil-drilling operations, including five drill sites, 37 miles of new gravel roads, seven bridges, an airstrip and 495 miles of ice roads. It would permanently scar the largest undeveloped area in the United States, destroy essential habitat for polar bears and other rare wildlife, and jeopardize the health and traditional practices of nearby Indigenous communities.

"Let's choose polar bears and wild places over ConocoPhillips' profits and a rapidly warming planet," said the Center's Kristen Monsell.

Electric car

California Needs Clean Cars Now — Here's Why

To help avoid the worst impacts of intensifying warming, California has to transition to selling 100% electric vehicles by 2030, says a new Center report. That means Gov. Newsom has to start the transition now — and also start cleaning up the remaining petroleum vehicles.

We just sent Gov. Newsom our report, along with a letter signed by more than 75 ally conservation, environmental justice and health groups, to make sure that the California Air Resources Board sets the right sales target in its upcoming clean-cars rule.

If you don't want to do the math yourself, check out this video of the Center's John Fleming explaining the 2030 goal on Facebook or YouTube.

Rep. Deb Haaland

Biden Makes Historic Pick to Lead the Interior Department

In an inspiring moment for the Interior Department and the country, President-elect Biden has chosen Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) to be his secretary of the Interior. If confirmed, Haaland — from the Pueblos of Laguna and Jemez — would be the first Native American ever to serve as a Cabinet secretary.

Haaland is a dedicated champion of both the environment and the rights of Indigenous people.

"Rep. Haaland's appointment would mean a new era for protection of our wildlife, public lands and waters," said Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center — which organized a letter supporting her nomination earlier this month. "It's critical for Native American leaders to be part of all decision-making about public lands."

Mount Charleston blue butterfly

Take Action: Speak Up for Endangered Blue Butterflies

Lee Canyon, in the Spring Mountains west of Las Vegas, is an irreplaceable alpine oasis. It offers Nevadans access to nature and provides habitat for dozens of rare species, including endangered Mount Charleston blue butterflies.

But Utah-based Powdr Corp. and the U.S. Forest Service have finalized plans to turn this tranquil spot into a year-round, extreme-sports amusement park, complete with a roller coaster, zip lines, new parking facilities and a network of downhill mountain-bike trails.

Amusement park attractions belong on the Las Vegas Strip — not on public lands, and not inside the only known habitat of an endangered species.

Tell Powdr Corp. to drop its destructive Lee Canyon Ski Area expansion plan.


Petition Filed for International Review of Loggerhead Deaths

With the Mexican Center for Environmental Law, we've filed a petition for an international review of the Mexican government's failure to protect endangered loggerhead sea turtles from drowning in fishing nets.

Pacific loggerheads, which are born in Japan and migrate vast distances to U.S. and Mexican waters, have been killed in great numbers recently. According to Mexico's official data, 889 dead loggerheads were found on the west coast of Baja California Sur from 2017 to 2019 alone.

"The Mexican government's failure to protect loggerheads from deadly entanglements could bring a tragic end to their millions of years of migrating to our coast," said Alejandro Olivera, senior scientist and Mexico representative of the Center. "Mexican officials have an obligation to stop this carnage."

Jeff Merkley

Oregon Senator Calls for Emergency Declaration on Climate

The emergency powers of the executive branch shouldn't be taken lightly, writes Sen. Jeff Merkley (D.-Ore.) in The Washington Post.

But as this year's wildfires in Oregon painfully illustrate, climate change is a life-support crisis that affects us all. President-elect Biden, Merkley states, needs to use both the National Emergencies Act and the Defense Production Act to tackle the climate emergency boldly.

Sen. Merkley's message echoes the call the Center just made to the president-elect, on behalf of 500 groups, for a climate emergency declaration.

Spider's web

Wild & Weird: Spiders in Space

According to newly published research on the International Space Station, spiders can weave perfectly normal webs in the absence of gravity, as long as there's a light source.

Orbiting high above the Earth, orb web spiders with no sense of up or down spun webs just like they would've back home. Unless there was no light — in which case their webs came out off-kilter.

Read more at Gizmodo.

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Photo credits: Desert tortoise by Robert Shea/Flickr; Southern Resident orcas by Miles Ritter/Flickr; polar bear sow and cub by Alan D. Wilson/Nature's Pics Online; electric vehicle by chuttersnap/Unsplash; Rep. Deb Haaland courtesy U.S. House of Representatives; Mount Charleston blue buttefly by Sky Island/Flickr; loggerhead by G.P. Schmahl/NOAA; Sen. Jeff Merkley by thisisbossi/Flickr; spider's web by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen/Unsplash.

Center for Biological Diversity
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