Win: Habitat Protected for Puerto Rico's Elfin-woods Warbler

Endangered Earth: The weekly wildlife update from the Center for Biological Diversity.
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Elfin-woods warbler
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At Long Last, Woodlands Protected for Puerto Rican Songbird

The Center for Biological Diversity began our campaign to save the elfin-woods warblers of Puerto Rico in 2004. Finally — 16 years and many filings later — the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated critical habitat for the tiny birds: more than 27,000 acres.

The black-and-white, trilling songbirds were discovered in the 1970s in El Yunque's high-mountain dwarf, or "elfin," forests — so named because strong winds and thin soil on the peaks keep the trees small.

"The designation is a great step in the right direction," said Jaclyn Lopez, the Center's Florida director. "This beautiful little warbler needs a buffer against the increasingly intense storms that plow through the island."

Thank you for your support during this long fight. When we stand together, we win.

Polar bear cub

Trump Administration Makes Plans to Drill in the Arctic

The Trump administration could turn over more than 18 million acres of Alaska's Arctic to the fossil fuel industry.

The Western Arctic region is home to caribou herds, polar bears and millions of migratory birds. But a new plan from the Bureau of Land Management would open these public lands — the largest roadless area in the United States — to the oil and gas industry.

Burning the recoverable oil estimated in the area could result in more than 1.1 billion tons of carbon dioxide pollution, deepening the climate crisis, according to a Center analysis.

"Turning the oil industry loose on America's biggest undeveloped frontier would be a disaster for our climate and Alaska's wildlife," said the Center's Kristen Monsell.

Read more and support our work to keep drilling out of the Arctic.

Togo pack wolf

Take Action: Stop the Killing of Washington's Wolves

At any moment more wolves in Washington state's Togo pack could be gunned down or trapped.

Two years ago the state killed the pack's father; now the whole family's existence is at stake. Making matters worse, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission just doubled down on the slaughter by rejecting a petition for the state to enact transparent rules to hold its wildlife department and livestock operators accountable. The rules would have ensured that appropriate, nonlethal measures are fully used before lethal actions are taken.

Tell Washington Gov. Jay Inslee to step in and order a stop to all this wolf killing.

Sonoyta mud turtle

Desert Turtles' Habitat Is Threatened by the Border Wall

In the whole United States, Sonoyta mud turtles live only in one spring-fed pond — which happens to lie 100 yards from where the border wall's being built. As the wall stretches farther and farther across the stunning Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, the spring is being dewatered for its construction.

This means the 12 acres of habitat protection the Center and allies just secured for the highly endangered turtles may well not be enough to save them.

"They're pulling huge amounts of water out of the aquifer to mix concrete and to spray on the roads to keep dust down, and it's only a matter of time before the flow that reaches the surface of the spring fails," said the Center's Randy Serraglio. "When that happens, that's it. The aquatic habitat dries up and the turtle will die."

Read more at Cronkite News about these turtles and the border wall that could drive them extinct.

Quino checkerspot butterfly

California Asked to Save Quino Checkerspot Butterflies

Quino checkerspot butterflies used to be common in California, but sprawl has devastated their habitat. In 1997, in response to Center legal action, they received federal Endangered Species Act protection. But their habitat keeps disappearing — and in 2002, instead of increasing protection, the Fish and Wildlife Service cut their critical habitat by 63.8%.

So this week the Center and partners filed a petition asking the California Fish and Game Commission to step in to protect the butterflies.

"Some of the few critical patches of remaining habitat for these butterflies are slated to be developed," said Center entomologist Tara Cornelisse. "We need to protect more habitat for endangered butterflies, not allow it to be carved up piece by piece."

Learn more.

Reticulated flatwoods salamander

Lawsuit Launched for Southeast Salamanders

The Center and Healthy Gulf just filed a notice of intent to sue the Trump administration in defense of reticulated and frosted flatwoods salamanders. The Fish and Wildlife Service still hasn't developed recovery plans for either of these species, despite an agreement with us promising to produce both plans by June 2019. The plans are about 20 years overdue.

We first went to court for the salamanders in 2005, filing the suit that won them habitat protections. Said the Center's Jenny Loda, a biologist and attorney who specializes in amphibians and reptiles, "Without concrete recovery plans, these species won't survive."

Read more.

Cattle

The Multiple Tragedies of the Meat Monopoly

Supply-chain disruptions caused by COVID-19 mean the meat industry is currently unable to sell millions of animals that are ready for slaughter. Instead it's "depopulating" them: killing them and getting rid of the bodies.

The huge number of carcasses being chucked into landfills, incinerated, burnt on open pyres, composted, and otherwise disposed of with little to no public transparency is an environmental catastrophe.

This week the Center and allies filed a legal petition calling on the USDA to ban Big Ag's dangerous on-site incineration and unlined burial of millions of industrially raised farm animals.

This crisis highlights the urgent need to fix our broken food system. Learn more about how the meat monopoly is killing animals, people and the planet in this article by the Center's Jennifer Molidor and Mia MacDonald of Brighter Green.

The Revelator: The Global Trade in Snakes

Ptyas mucosa

A shocking number of live snakes are traded across the globe every year, says a new article in The Revelator. The million-plus threatened and endangered snakes shipped around the planet — of which China and the United States are the biggest importers — are just the tip of the iceberg.

Read the article and sign up for The Revelator's e-newsletter.

Sea otter

Wild & Weird: Cute Animal Videos Help Keep Us Sane

We live in an unpredictable world where anxiety and depression are on the rise. Mental-health experts say one easy way to practice self-care with a dose of joy is to watch cute or funny animal videos — something the Center and our members have known for a while.

Read more about self-care and animal videos at The Washington Post. And revisit a few Center favorites: Hear the fierce war cry of the desert rain frog, behold this American woodcock putting some glide in his stride and some dip in his hip, and check out this skunk doing handstands.

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Photo credits: Elfin-woods warbler by Mike Morel/USFWS; polar bear cub by Alan D. Wilson/Nature's Pics Online; former breeding male of the Togo pack (photographed June 2018 and killed September 2018 by WDFW) courtesy WDFW; Sonoyta mud turtle by George Andrejko/Arizona Game and Fish Department; Quino checkerspot butterfly by Susan Wynn/USFWS; reticulated flatwoods salamander by Katie O'Donnell/USGS; cattle by David W. Oliver/Flickr; Ptyas mucosa by Nipun Sohanlal; sea otter by Rich Miller/Flickr.

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