Win for Western Dancing Bird

Endangered Earth: The weekly wildlife update from the Center for Biological Diversity.
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Greater sage grouse
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Judge Overturns Trump for Greater Sage Grouse

The greater sage grouse is a bird that needs its space.

Reliant on large expanses of intact sagebrush and loyal to specific areas, sage grouse are very sensitive to habitat disturbance. As oil and gas extraction, livestock grazing, roads, and power lines have destroyed and fragmented their native habitat, their populations have plummeted.

Fortunately for these beleaguered birds — whose males balloon out their air sacs in elaborate mating dances — a federal court has found unlawful the Trump administration's removal of protections from 10 million acres across the West to allow mining in vital grouse habitat. This decision follows an earlier ruling stemming from a 2016 lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies.

"We're grateful our legal system once again protected the vanishing greater sage grouse from the reckless, lawbreaking Trump administration," said the Center's Michael Saul. "Now the new Interior secretary can establish appropriate habitat protections based on science, not favoritism to the mining industry."

In the meantime, we're doing a happy dance.

Leatherback sea turtle hatchling

Biden Cancels Gulf of Mexico Offshore-drilling Lease Sale

In good news for imperiled species like corals, leatherback sea turtles and Rice's whales, the Biden administration just canceled a March 17 oil and gas lease sale of more than 78 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico. Biden's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has also axed the public meetings and comment period for an upcoming lease sale in Alaska's Cook Inlet, home to critically endangered Cook Inlet beluga whales.

"Cancelling this huge offshore Gulf oil auction helps protect our climate and life on Earth," said the Center's Kristen Monsell. "This is a great step toward phasing out all offshore drilling and bringing environmental justice to the Gulf Coast and Alaska. We need to help restore coastal communities and marine life."


President Biden just ordered the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to rethink its Trump-era decision to strip wolves' Endangered Species Act protection. The Service immediately declared that decision was scientifically accurate ... without checking the science. Now wolves are in the crosshairs of hunters nationwide, and we're in court to save them. Watch our new video on Facebook or YouTube.

Revelator: Indigenous Knowledge and the Future of Fisheries

Fish conservation at Still Creek in British Columbia

Andrea Reid, a citizen of the Nisga'a Nation, helped launch the Centre for Indigenous Fisheries at the University of British Columbia. This groundbreaking program focuses on culturally significant fish and fisheries through community-based approaches that prioritize Indigenous needs, concerns and voices in its projects, research and outreach.

Read The Revelator's interview with Reid on the center's approach and the challenges Indigenous fisheries face. And if you don't already, follow The Revelator on Twitter and Facebook for headlines as they go live.

Polar bear cub

Biden Must Nix Trump, Bush Endangered Species Act Attacks

Dozens of scientists and law professors, led by the Center and Harvard Law School's Animal Law & Policy Program, have petitioned President Biden to pull policies — pronto — made under Trump and G.W. Bush that weaken the Endangered Species Act. Specifically, the policies restrict the government's consideration under the Act of greenhouse gas emissions' harms to animals like polar bears.

"If not for these policies, the polar bear would have greater protection under the Act and agencies would have another mechanism to consider and reduce carbon emissions," said the Center's Dr. Shaye Wolf. "Greenhouse gases are no different from mercury, pesticides or anything else that accumulates in the land, air or water and harms species. It's simply ridiculous not to take them into account."

Los Angeles smog

How We're Fighting Smog Across the U.S.

Smog — also called ozone pollution — is a serious threat to human health. It can increase the frequency of asthma attacks, make the lungs more susceptible to infection, inflame and damage airways, and aggravate lung diseases like emphysema. It also harms the natural environment.

The oil and methane gas industry is the largest industrial source of emissions that contribute to smog.

The Center has worked for more than a decade to reduce U.S. air pollution from fossil fuels — and last week we launched two new lawsuits to fight smog. The first one challenges the Environmental Protection Agency's failure to ensure proper plans are in place to control air pollution from the oil and methane gas industry in six states. The other challenges the agency's approval of Pennsylvania's feeble, outdated plan to clean up smog from the methane gas industry.


A Report From the Border

Last week President Joe Biden took a key step toward shutting down border wall construction by ending the two-year-old "national emergency" Trump declared to justify it.

"I have determined that the declaration of a national emergency at our southern border was unwarranted," Biden wrote in a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). He added that he's "directing a careful review of all resources appropriated or redirected" toward wall construction.

But the Center has uncovered evidence of work defying Biden's day-one executive order halting construction on the wall. Video footage shot this month shows crews leveling mountains and bulldozing habitat for endangered jaguars in Arizona's Pajarito Mountains.

"The new administration must cancel these contracts for good and work with border communities and tribal nations to repair all that Trump destroyed," said Laiken Jordahl, the Center's borderlands campaigner.

Five-lined skink

That's Wild: More Skinks = Less Lyme Disease?

Black-legged ticks, aka deer ticks, are the main vector spreading Lyme disease to humans. Although Lyme disease is found throughout the United States, cases aren't distributed evenly. Scientists have long observed a sharp north-south divide, with the Northeast reporting many more cases than the Sunbelt. Why?

According to new research, the answer is skinks.

Deer ticks in the north typically latch onto small mammals like mice, while south of the Mason-Dixon line, they prefer to feed on lizard blood — especially skink blood. While mice are notorious for transmitting Lyme disease to people, skinks are poor transmitters. That means that in the skinky South, Lyme disease is a lot less likely to move from ticks to people.

Skinks aren't just adorable — they're also heroes.

Read more at Science.

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Photo credits: Sage grouse courtesy USFWS Pacific Region; sea turtle hatchling courtesy Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve; wolf by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife; fish conservation at Still Creek in British Columbia by Fisheries and Oceans Canada; polar bear by Alan D. Wilson/Nature's Pics Online; Los Angeles smog by Ben Amstutz/Flickr; jaguar by Peter Hopper/Flickr; five-lined skink via Pixy.

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