Win: Emperor Penguins March Toward Protection
Following a Center for Biological Diversity petition and lawsuit, this Tuesday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed protecting emperor penguins under the Endangered Species Act. They need it badly: The emperor penguin colony at Point Géologie, featured in the film March of the Penguins, has declined by almost 50%, and scientists predict that 80% of the world’s emperors will disappear by century’s end without major carbon-pollution cuts.
“Emperor penguins are gravely threatened by climate change melting the sea ice they need for breeding and raising chicks,” said the Center’s Sarah Uhlemann. “We must act now before we lose these amazing, iconic birds.”
Red Foxes in the Sierra Nevada Are Protected
In response to a 2011 petition and two lawsuits by the Center, some of North America’s rarest mammals — the secretive red foxes of California’s Sierra Nevada — have just won Endangered Species Act Protection. There are likely fewer than 40 left in the world.
The foxes, who range up to Oregon’s southern Cascades and live in isolated mountain areas, will only be protected in California, from Yosemite National Park to Kings Canyon. They’re adapted to cold weather and threatened by climate change, which is turning their high elevations hotter and drier.
“The Sierra Nevada red fox is a vanishing emblem of the remote Sierra wilderness,” said the Center’s Jeff Miller. “Endangered Species Act protection can give these adorable canines a fighting chance at survival and recovery. But the Fish and Wildlife Service should also protect them in the Cascades.”
Bill Introduced to Protect Migratory Birds
Forty-nine members of Congress have united to introduce the Migratory Bird Protection Act, which reaffirms longstanding protections for migratory birds. The Trump administration cancelled protections for migratory birds by declaring that the Act, one of our nation’s first conservation laws, only protects birds from direct killing — not unintentional but predictable killing of birds by oil spills, poorly designed utility lines and other industrial activities.
“Habitat loss and climate change are accelerating rapidly, so it’s urgent that Congress pass this bill,” said the Center’s Endangered Species Director Noah Greenwald. “Snowy owls, American white pelicans and other beautiful birds all deserve a fighting chance at survival.”
Support the Center’s work to protect migratory birds and other species with a gift to our Saving Life on Earth Fund.
15K Square Miles of New Habitat Protected for Orcas
Southern Resident killer whales, the salmon-eating orcas who live and forage in the Salish Sea and along the coast from Alaska to California, saw their federally protected critical habitat massively expand Friday to more than 18,000 miles, spanning three states. The new rule comes not a moment too soon: The orcas have been starving due to plummeting Chinook salmon populations, contaminants, and vessel noise and disturbance.
Now that an adult male orca known as K21, or Cappuccino, is presumed dead, the orcas’ numbers are down to a precarious 74. Along with protected habitat, the speedy restoration of wild salmon runs is crucial to their survival.
Petition Fights U.S. Trade in Live Mammals and Birds
The Center and allies this week petitioned the Biden administration to ban U.S. trade in live birds and mammals. Not only would this reduce the risk of future pandemics like COVID-19 that jump from wildlife to people — it would also help fight the extinction crisis.
“Only a proactive approach like this will help keep us safe and reduce the reckless exploitation of wildlife like chinchillas and waxbills,” said Tanya Sanerib, the Center’s international legal director. “The Fish and Wildlife Service and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should act now to improve our relationship with nature to avoid the next pandemic.”
Two California Wolf Packs Have Pups
Two of California’s three wolf families, the Lassen pack and the Whaleback pack, have produced pups this year, according to a new report by the California Department of Fish and Game.
“We’re over the moon knowing that for the first time in more than 100 years, California has at least two wolf packs with pups,” said the Center's Amaroq Weiss. “This is a red-letter moment in wolf recovery for the Golden State. These little ones are here because of legal protections that are crucial to their survival and made it possible for wolves to return.”
Biden Issues Loophole-Riddled Car Pollution Standards
Today President Biden recommended new emissions rules for cars — but they’re way too weak for this era of climate change.
The anemic proposal relies on unenforceable voluntary commitments from carmakers to make up to 50% of their fleets electric by 2030. But as history shows, counting on car companies to do the right thing for the environment is a losing bet. Even more disappointing is the fact that Biden’s loophole-ridden Swiss cheese rules don’t even meet the standards that car companies agreed to with President Obama nine years ago.
“Global warming is burning forests, roasting the West and worsening storms,” said the Center’s Dan Becker. “We don’t have time for weak standards with the promise of strong ones later — especially when automakers already have the technology to safely slash emissions.”
Revelator: What Climate Change Means for Bats
That’s Wild: Pikachu’s Doppelganger Eats Yak Poop
Pikachu, arguably the most famous character in the Pokémon universe, is the spitting image of adorable, chirpy, tubby rabbit relatives called pikas. A new study has found that at least one pika species — the pika of Asia’s Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau — eats yak poop to survive the harsh, high-elevation winter when other food is scarce.
Read more about these dung-nibbling mammals at LiveScience.
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