The Face of the U.S. Wildlife Trade

Endangered Earth: The weekly wildlife update from the Center for Biological Diversity.
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Straw-colored bat
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Reining in the U.S. Wildlife Trade

Did you know that an important driver of the global wildlife trade is the voracious U.S. appetite for wildlife and wild animal parts?

A report released Monday by the Center for Biological Diversity found that the United States consumes about 20% of the global wildlife market. Over a recent five-year period, almost 23 million whole animals, parts, samples and products made from bats, primates and rodents were imported to the country.

As COVID-19 continues to kill thousands of Americans a week, Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) introduced legislation on Tuesday that would prohibit the import and export of live wildlife for human consumption or medicine. The "Preventing Future Pandemics Act of 2020" would also close all live wildlife markets for those purposes in the United States and ramp up funding to combat wildlife exploitation.

You can help: Tell Congress to support the bold legislation — and all the animals caught up in this ugly business.

Red-cockaded woodpecker

Endangered Species Act Success: Red-cockaded Woodpecker

Good news for the Southeast's beautiful red-cockaded woodpecker. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced this month that the striking bird has recovered enough to be "downlisted" from endangered to threatened. Once common in longleaf pine forests across the southeastern United States, by 1970 it had become so rare it was one of the first species to be federally protected.

"The red-cockaded woodpecker is a fantastic umbrella species whose recovery benefits hundreds of other plants and animals across the Southeast," said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center. "This tremendous Endangered Species Act victory shows we can recover the ecosystems, in this case longleaf pine forests, that species need to survive."

Read more in the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Monkey skull

Our new report on the wildlife trade finds that products made from bats, primates and rodents pour over U.S. borders by the millions. Take a look at the face of the trade in our new video on Facebook or YouTube.

Grizzly cub

Today: A Discussion of the Feds' War on Wildlife

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's perversely named "Wildlife Services" program kills more than a million wild animals every year. Scattering cruel traps and indiscriminate poisons across public lands, the program targets carnivores like coyotes, bears, otters and foxes. Even grizzlies and wolves are caught in the crosshairs.

We've been working for years to shine a light on the feds' wildlife-killing, and we've succeeded in gaining protections for wildlife in several states. Join us later today for the Center's next Saving Life on Earth webinar to learn more about this work, as well as our other efforts to protect carnivores.

The hour-long webinar starts at 4 p.m. PT / 7 p.m. ET. You have to register to join, so sign up and then check your email for a link.

Tiehm's buckwheat

Take Action: 17,000 Rare Plants Destroyed in Nevada

Recently more than 17,000 Tiehm's buckwheat plants were destroyed — at a time when this rare wildflower is on its way to being protected under the Endangered Species Act. As much as 40% of the species' entire population, which exists on just 10 acres in western Nevada, may have been lost.

The plant was already in trouble before nearly half of its remaining population was ripped out of the ground under extremely unusual circumstances. An Australian mining company has proposed an open-pit lithium mine that would obliterate the vast majority of the buckwheat's habitat.

On Tuesday we sued the Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management seeking safeguards for the rare plant.

You can help: Tell the Service to investigate this tragedy and take emergency action to protect Tiehm's buckwheat under the Endangered Species Act.


In Hawaii, a Race to Save Honeycreepers

Our friends at the Kauai Forest Bird Recovery Project in Hawaii are in a pitched battle to save eight species of Hawaiian honeycreeper, or 'i'iwi — six of which are found only on Kauai.

More than 20 species of Hawaiian honeycreepers — beautiful birds known for their distinctive bills — have gone extinct because of habitat destruction and the invasion of non-native species, including mosquitoes that carry avian malaria and pox.

The Kauai Forest Bird Recovery Project is racing to save Kauai's honeycreepers through tactics like mosquito abatement and rat control in the Alaka'i Swamp. It's not easy or cheap: Often helicopters are needed to reach the heart of the swamp, where the work is happening.

They're doing lifesaving work. Learn how you can support them.

round hickorynut mussel

Two Mussels and a Marsh Flower Slated to Get Protection

In response to 10 years of legal work by the Center and allies, this week the Fish and Wildlife Service proposed Endangered Species Act protection for two freshwater mussels — the round hickorynut and the longsolid — and with them more than 2,000 river miles of critical habitat, from Pennsylvania to Mississippi. Freshwater mussels are the unsung, highly imperiled heroes of southeastern rivers, where they keep water clean for people by filtering out pollutants.

In the Southwest the Service proposed to protect a wetland flower called the Wright's marsh thistle as threatened. "This prickly plant depends on life-giving springs in the midst of an arid landscape, just as people depend on those beautiful springs to bring life to the desert and buoy our spirits in a dry land," said the Center's Michael Robinson.

Rim Fire

How the West Could Curb Damage and Deaths From Fire

Many landscapes of the American West evolved to burn in a natural cycle of fire, writes the Center's Randi Spivak in The Hill. But climate change and other products of human error are turning seasonal fires into a raging risk to western communities.

The only way to tackle those fires' increased danger to people is to transition quickly away from fossil fuels, start managing our public forests for wildlife and conservation instead of commercial timber, stop building anew in fire-prone places, and retrofit homes and neighborhoods that are already vulnerable.

Read Randi's op-ed.

The Revelator: An Interview With Obi Kaufmann

Desolation Wilderness

Naturalist Obi Kaufmann has a new book out — his third, The Forests of California, which he calls a "field atlas." This week he talked to The Revelator about how his unique blend of research, art and science is also a call to action to help protect the wild places we love.

Read the interview and sign up to receive The Revelator's weekly e-newsletter.

Magawa the rat

Wild & Weird: Rat Wins Medal for Saving Human Lives

In its 77-year history of presenting medals to animals for bravery and service, the UK veterinary charity PDSA has honored the work of dogs, pigs, horses and, in 1949, a ship's cat named Simon who survived shrapnel wounds to comfort the crew of a British frigate that had come under fire on the Yangtze River.

But this year marks the first time a rat — specifically, a Tanzanian-born African giant pouched rat named Magawa — has been recognized with the top honor.

Magawa is trained to sniff out land mines and alert his human handler. In just four years, he's found 39 land mines and 28 unexploded pieces of ordnance, clearing more than 1.5 million square feet of land in Cambodia.

Learn more and watch a video about Magawa's heroic story.

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Photo credits: Straw-colored bat by studioranslam/Flickr; red-cockaded woodpecker by Martjan Lammertink/USFS; monkey skull by Klaus Rassinger and Gerhard Cammerer/Museum Wiesbaden; grizzly bear cub via Pixabay; Tiehm's buckwheat by Patrick Donnelly/Center for Biological Diversity; 'i'iwi courtesy USFWS; round hickorynut mussel courtesy USFWS; Rim Fire courtesy USFS; Desolation Wilderness by n8agrin/Flickr; Magawa the rat courtesy PDSA.

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