We're Suing for Sea Otters and Manatees

Endangered Earth: The weekly wildlife update from the Center for Biological Diversity.
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Sea otter
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Suit Filed to Force Counts of Threatened Marine Mammals

To save species from going extinct, we need true information on the state of their populations. But the U.S. government is lagging far behind in updating some of its assessments of marine mammals — including sea otters, walruses and manatees. And it hasn't done a new count of polar bears in more than a decade.

So the Center for Biological Diversity and allies just sued to make the feds do those studies and give scientists and decision-makers the information they need to help threatened animals survive.

"We must let science guide our protection of vulnerable marine mammal populations," said Center lawyer Lalli Venkatakrishnan. "We hope the Biden administration will move quickly to update population assessments for polar bears, sea otters and other species."

Grand Canyon

Take Action: Protect the Grand Canyon From Uranium Mining

It's time to protect the Grand Canyon from new uranium mining once and for all — and we need your help doing it. A new bill in Congress, the Grand Canyon Protection Act, would permanently block new mines across 1 million acres around Grand Canyon National Park.

This area's wildlife and water have already been poisoned by decades of deadly uranium pollution. We can't let new mines further industrialize public lands and destroy Native American sacred sites, threatening even more harm to the precious groundwater that feeds the canyon's creeks and springs.

Please take a moment to urge your senators and representative to pass the Grand Canyon Protection Act.

Gray wolf

In Wisconsin, 215 Wolves Just Killed in Three Days

After the Trump administration stripped federal protection from gray wolves, Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin pushed to open wolf-killing season early — now, when wolves are breeding. The state narrowly rejected that push, but after a trophy-hunting group sued, a court decided Wisconsin's winter hunt must go forward. This week that decision resulted in the devastating massacre of 215 wolves in Wisconsin in just three days.

There were between 1,034 and 1,057 wolves in Wisconsin in 2020. A few days' hunt has killed more than 20% of the state's wolves so far — and another hunt is planned for fall.

"The reckless slaughter of 215 wolves in just three days is appalling," said Collette Adkins, the Center's carnivore conservation director. "It will take years for Wisconsin's wolf population to recover from the damage done this week. And without federal protections, this bloody spectacle could easily play out in other states."

This is a brutal reminder of why the fight to protect wolves is more important than ever. Please support the Center's work for wolves with a donation to our Wolf Defense Fund.

Oak Flat

In Court to Save Sacred Oak Flat

The Center just went to court with tribal allies and other conservation groups to stop a massive mine from destroying Arizona's beautiful Oak Flat, sacred to Apache and other Native people and home to endangered species like the ocelot and Arizona hedgehog cactus.

We've requested that a judge block the land trade that would give this public-lands prize — thousands of acres in the Tonto National Forest — to a multinational mining company to build the destructive Resolution Copper mine.

"We can't allow this corrupt land swap to go through, and we're hopeful the court will agree that laws have been broken," said the Center's Randy Serraglio. "It's imperative that the courts and the Biden administration make the right decision to protect Oak Flat."

Vital Win for Joshua Trees

Joshua tree

Western Joshua trees — those extraordinary, Dr. Seussian plants of California's Mojave Desert — became candidates for state safeguards in the fall thanks to work by the Center and local allies. These little trees are threatened by the advance of climate change, along with development, fire and drought.

Real-estate and construction interests tried to attack their state protection in court, but this week a judge rejected that attempt. We'll keep working to make sure Joshua trees prevail in the long term.

Show Your Love for Borderlands Wildlife

Wildlife Against the Wall T-shirt

The U.S.-Mexico border wall cuts through some of North America's most important ecosystems, blocking the migration of dozens of species. By wearing the Center's newest T-shirt, you can join us in calling for the end of the environmentally devastating border wall while celebrating some of the Southwest's most iconic endangered wildlife.

Designed by artist and activist Roger Peet, the shirt depicts the yellow-billed cuckoo, northern Mexican garter snake, jaguar, cactus ferruginous pygmy owl, Chiricahua leopard frog, southwestern willow flycatcher and Sonoran pronghorn. It's $18 while supplies last.

Revelator: What Does Extreme Weather Mean for Wildlife?

Key deer after Hurricane Irene

As Tara Lohan reports in The Revelator this week, while climate change-boosted extreme weather events are costing humans billions, they can also take a toll on wildlife. By killing animals both directly and indirectly — say, destroying food sources or altering habitat — these "megadistubances" can cause population declines and even local extinctions.

Read the article for details and expert interviews. Then subscribe to The Revelator's e-newsletter if you haven't already.

U.S. Rejoins Paris Accord — But It's Only the First Step


The United States has officially rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement, 107 days after leaving it under Trump. According to the Center's Jean Su, interviewed in this new piece in The Guardian, it's just the first step.

"The climate crisis is a race against time, and the U.S. is just reaching the starting line after years of inaction," said Jean. "As the world's largest historical polluter, the United States must take its fair share of robust climate action on both the domestic and global stage."

Conceptual Artist Makes Snow Polar Bears in New York

Polar bear snow sculptures by Heide Hatry

German-American artist Heide Hatry is best known for her radical work transmuting animal remains into delicate flowers and human remains into poignant portraits of the dead. But last week she brought New Yorkers' attention to the climate and extinction crises with a series of polar-bear sculptures — built spontaneously out of snow — in Central Park.

Chrysomallon squamiferum

That's Wild: Deep-sea, Volcano-dwelling Snail Wears Iron Shoe

At the bottom of the ocean, near the rims of underwater volcanoes, roams a snail with a shell made of iron sulfide. It glides around hydrothermal vents on a foot covered in iron plates. Picture the famous sword-studded Iron Throne — except it can move. And it has a squishy gastropod center.

This scaly-footed snail, called the sea pangolin, lives in an extreme environment of crushing pressure and temperatures that reach over 750 degrees Fahrenheit. Scientists believe it doesn't actually eat but relies on energy produced by bacteria in a large gland.

Sadly, its iron armor can't protect this snail from mining companies awaiting the technology that will let them exploit its home. In 2019, due to its niche habitat and fears raised by mining exploration, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature declared the snail endangered.

Read more at Smithsonian Magazine.

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Photo credits: Sea otter by Mike Baird/Flickr; Grand Canyon by Christine Roy/Unsplash; gray wolf by Charles Higgins/Flickr; Oak Flat by Russ McSpadden/Center for Biological Diversity; Joshua tree by Christopher Michel/Flickr; Wildlife Against the Wall T-shirt by Ric Santora/Center for Biological Diversity; Key deer after Hurricane Irene by Carol Lyn Parrish; smokestacks by R. Gino Santa Maria/Dreamstime; polar bear snow sculptures by Heide Hatry; Chrysomallon squamiferum by Kentaro Nakamura et al./Wikimedia.

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