No. 495, January 14, 2010
Victory for Jaguars: Obama Pledges Recovery Plan, Habitat Protection
a 13-year battle to save the American jaguar from extinction, this week
the Center for Biological Diversity won a decision from the Obama
administration to develop a recovery plan and protect essential habitat
for North America's largest and most endangered cat.
Bush administration had twice declared that it would not recover,
reintroduce, or do anything to protect jaguars in the United States.
Twice the Center's legal team filed suit and struck down the illegal
decisions. This left the final decision up to Obama, but until the last
moment, we were uncertain he would do the right thing as he has not
made endangered species a priority to date. Now
that the Obama administration has committed to developing a federal
recovery plan and mapping out the jaguar's critical habitat, the long,
hard work of saving the American jaguar can begin. I
want to personally thank the tens of thousands of Center supporters who
sent emails to the Obama administration to save the jaguar. You really
showed the administration how important and popular jaguar conservation
is. I also want to thank the thousands of people who contributed
financially to keep our jaguar campaign going these 13 long years;
without you, we couldn't have done it.
Read more in the Arizona Daily Star.
Black Mesa Coal Mine Expansion Halted
week one of the country's most destructive dirty-coal complexes
suffered a major setback when, in response to work by the Center for
Biological Diversity and allies, a judge nixed a permit to expand the
already massive Black Mesa and Kayenta coal mines. Because of appeals
filed by the Center, other environmental groups, and a host of local
tribal groups and individuals, Peabody Energy -- the largest private
coal company in the world -- won't be able to operate and expand both
mines under a single permit. The permit would have allowed Peabody to
mine an additional 6.35 million tons of coal per year, which the Center
estimates would add up to more than 100 million tons. Of
course, all those tons of coal would have ended up disgorging hundreds
of millions more tons of greenhouse gases into the air. Plus, an
expansion would have hurt species like the Colorado pikeminnow,
razorback sucker, humpback chub, Mexican spotted owl, southwestern
willow flycatcher, and Little Colorado spinedace, as well as their
month, in response to objections by the Center and allies, a judge
struck down a controversial water permit for Black Mesa that was
poisoning wildlife and tainting local communities' groundwater.
Read more in the Arizona Daily Sun.
Fourteen Endangered Birds to Earn U.S. Protection
a result of a Center for Biological Diversity lawsuit, last week the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service completed a rule to protect two
endangered birds, native to Galápagos and Papua New Guinea, under the
Endangered Species Act. The Galápagos petrel, a dark-rumped seabird
known to Galápagos Island natives as "web-footed one," is most
seriously threatened by introduced predators and farm animals that tear
up its habitat. The Heinroth's shearwater, an elusive bird thought to
breed in Papua New Guinea and the nearby Solomon Islands, is also
threatened by nonnative predators; its habitat is being destroyed by
deforestation as well as commercial fishing operations. Also
in response to Center legal work, the Fish and Wildlife Service has
proposed to protect 12 birds from Peru, Bolivia, Europe, and French
Check out our press release and learn more about the Galápagos petrel and the Center's International Birds Initiative.
Green Sturgeon Gains Protection From Fishing
the Center for Biological Diversity's successful work to protect the
southern green sturgeon under the Endangered Species Act, last month
the California Fish and Game Commission voted to close a big stretch of
the species' primary spawning grounds on the upper Sacramento River to
all sturgeon fishing. That means starting March 1, adult green sturgeon
-- down to critically low numbers -- can no longer be fished in the
deep holes they like to hide in after reproducing in the river. The
closure will also benefit white sturgeon reproduction. Work
will also soon start on a major fish-passage project at the Red Bluff
Diversion Dam, an impediment to green sturgeon and salmon migration in
the upper Sacramento. The last straw for dammed fish came in 2007, when
dam gates crushed a significant number of spawning green sturgeon. The
new fish-passage project will replace the gates by 2012, greatly
improving migration for endangered sturgeon, salmon, and steelhead.
Learn more about the green sturgeon
and the victories the Center earned for it, including 8.6 million acres
of critical habitat and strong federal protective regulations.
Feds: Yes, Manatee Needs More Habitat; No, We Won't Grant It
response to a petition by the Center and allies, this week the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the endangered Florida manatee
indeed needs new federal habitat protections -- but put off actually
granting those protections indefinitely. Since "critical habitat" was
set aside for the manatee more than three decades ago, a vast body of
science has shown that the mild-mannered mammal needs more, and
different, areas protected -- and the feds can't ignore that need.
Instead, they're saying they won't take action to save the manatee
until they get more funding to do it. But with Florida's population
blowing up, the last stand of precious manatee habitat could be
developed or destroyed by boat-propeller damage, dams, pollution,
marine debris, and other threats. Last year was the deadliest year on
record for manatees, with a total of 429 deaths and a record 97 killed
by collisions with boats. "Today's
decision to withhold critical habitat protections puts the Florida
manatee in an administrative purgatory," said Center Oceans Director
Miyoko Sakashita. "Endangered species don't have time to wait for
Read more in the St. Petersburg Times.
Center Petitions to Stop Frankenfish Chemicals -- Take Action With Us
protect a wide variety of animals -- as well as humans -- from
poisoning by hormone-altering drugs, the Center for Biological
Diversity this week submitted a scientific petition to the
Environmental Protection Agency to regulate endocrine-disrupting
chemicals under the Clean Water Act. Endocrine disruptors, chemicals
that interfere with the body's endocrine system -- which regulates
growth, metabolism, and tissue function -- can damage reproductive
organs and offspring and cause developmental and immune problems in
humans and wildlife, including endangered species like the California
red-legged frog and desert pupfish. But
as the human population grows and our chemical use increases, more and
more of these chemicals are being introduced to wildlife habitat and
drinking water through pharmaceutical drugs, pesticides, cosmetics,
detergents, deodorants, and myriad other substances. The Center's
petition calls on the EPA to adopt sensible limits that will eliminate
or dramatically reduce these scary chemicals in U.S. waterways.
Read more in the San Francisco Chronicle and take action on endocrine disruptors today.
Help Save Sea Turtles, Hear Center Expert on Longline "Death Curtains"
of endangered leatherback sea turtles die each year during their epic
migrations across the ocean, running into what have been aptly called
"curtains of death": 60-mile-long lines of frightening fishhooks that
snag and drown turtles and other ocean wildlife. To save leatherbacks
from longline fishing and other deadly threats, the Center for
Biological Diversity petitioned and filed suit to earn them federally
protected habitat, which was proposed this month to the tune of 45
million acres. Unfortunately, the protections proposed wouldn't save
sea turtles from industrial fishing. Leatherbacks need humans to set
aside hook-free habitat, or the ancient reptiles could finally succumb
to extinction. As
Center attorney Andrea Treece reminded us in a radio interview this
week, humans need sea turtles, too. "Sea turtles provide an indication
of the health of our oceans and the health of us as a species, because
we really do depend on our oceans to regulate the climate, to provide
food, as well as to provide us with spiritual enrichment."
Tell the feds to protect leatherback habitat from all threats and hear Treece talk on WBAI New York radio.
Studies: Alaska Polar Bears and Walrus in Peril
to a court order spurred by a Center for Biological Diversity lawsuit,
last month the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finished long-overdue
reports confirming that polar bears in Alaska are declining and Pacific
walrus are under threat. Both species are suffering from the loss of
their sea-ice habitat to global warming, oil and gas development, and
unsustainable hunting. "The science is in, and it shows that Alaska's
polar bears and walrus are in big trouble," said Rebecca Noblin, with
the Center's Climate Law Institute. "There is no longer any excuse to
delay action to protect these great Arctic mammals. Without their
sea-ice habitat, America's polar bears and walrus are doomed."
Check out our press release and learn more about our campaigns to save the polar bear and Pacific walrus.
Sneaky Sea Slug Is Part Animal, Part Plant
It's an animal -- it's a plant -- it's an Elysia chlorotica sea slug.
biologists have just announced that this species of green sea slug --
an animal, of course -- is also part plant. From the algae they eat, Elysia chlorotica
slugs have stolen the DNA to produce the plant pigment chlorophyll, as
well as the tiny cell parts called chloroplasts that plants use to
conduct photosynthesis and get energy from the sun. The slugs can
actually go their whole lives without eating, as long as they're in the
sun for 12 hours a day and they've eaten enough algae to steal the
chloroplasts they need. No one's quite sure how the slugs actually
appropriate the plant genes, but they've been proven to do it so well
that they can actually pass the genes on to baby slugs.
Learn more from MSNBC.
Volunteers Needed to Give Out Free Endangered Species Condoms
Want to do something to protect wildlife and habitat from overpopulation? Something exciting, important, and entertaining?
a part of the Center for Biological Diversity's brand-new Endangered
Species Condom Project, a campaign to nationally distribute free
condoms in six different packages featuring endangered species
threatened by human overpopulation, with the goal of raising awareness
about overpopulation's serious impacts on our planet. The packages will
be released next month, and we need your help to get them out. Sign up
and you can help us educate people across the country about what
overpopulation does to species that don't have the privilege of
over-reproducing -- or even reproducing enough to survive -- from the
spotted owl to the Puerto Rico rock frog to the polar bear.
To get involved, click here now.