One of the largest, rarest, and most ancient fish in existence earned 8.6 million acres of habitat protection in California, Oregon, and Washington last week due to a Center for Biological Diversity lawsuit. The North American green sturgeon, which has remained unchanged since it first evolved 200 million years ago, declined by 95 percent between 2001 and 2006, largely due to loss of suitable spawning habitat. Only three spawning grounds remain, leaving the species dangerously vulnerable to extinction. The decision to designate key rivers, estuaries, and coastal areas as protected "critical habitat" will help the sturgeon to recover and live for another 200 million years.
Read more in the Appeal-Democrat.
Arguing that "the idea of saving the Florida panther really should not seem far-fetched -- just overdue," the Palm Beach Post endorsed the Center for Biological Diversity's scientific petition to establish a 3-million-acre reserve for the endangered species. "The request is staggering," the paper said, but if the Endangered Species Act saved the bald eagle and American alligator, it can save the Florida panther too -- if we use its powerful habitat protection tools.
Down to about 100 animals in a single population and suffering from lack of genetic diversity, the Florida panther needs room to grow to three large populations. The Center's petition filed in September is designed to give it the room to do so.
Thanks to the Center for Biological Diversity's campaign to reverse Bush's legacy of tainted endangered species decisions harming 62 imperiled species and more than 8 million acres of habitat, last Friday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to protect nearly 109,000 acres for the endangered arroyo toad. Once a common Southern California resident, the toad has lost 75 percent of its historic range to sprawl, grazing, dams, mining, and off-road vehicles. But though the Service proposed to protect 478,400 acres of toad habitat in 2000, political interference in endangered species science left the amphibian with a disgraceful 11,695 protected acres in 2005.
The Center's campaign to clean up Bush's toxic legacy has thus far resulted in 52 lawsuits seeking to protect such species as the California red-legged frog, Cape Sable seaside sparrow, Arctic grayling, Gunnison sage grouse, and Mississippi gopher frog. The Obama administration has agreed to throw out the Bush decisions in almost all instances so far.
Read more in the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Last week, the Center for Biological Diversity and allies settled a lawsuit against the federal government compelling it to address three scientific petitions to boost protections for leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles.
Our petitions urge the National Marine Fisheries Service to upgrade the Endangered Species Act status of North Pacific and Western North Atlantic loggerheads, and to increase protections in the loggerheads' key nesting beaches and marine habitats. We're also calling for the protection of key migratory and foraging habitat for endangered leatherbacks off California and Oregon. Both sea turtles are imperiled by commercial fishing, pollution, and global warming -- among other threats. The feds must respond to our petitions this winter.
Get more from the Associated Press.
In bad news for gray wolves in Yellowstone National Park, last week the remaining four members of Idaho and Montana's Sage Creek wolf pack were gunned down from the air by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The pack was first targeted this summer for preying on a sheep on the secretive USDA Sheep Experiment Station west of Yellowstone Park, which grazes thousands of sheep on 100,000-plus acres. Through work in court, the Center for Biological Diversity and allies have already laid bare to outside scrutiny the sheep station's actions, compelling a comprehensive public review for the first time in the station's 94-year existence. But the station must be eliminated to help wolves and other wildlife survive in a crucial habitat corridor between Yellowstone and the wilderness of central Idaho.
Politics makes strange bedfellows, but I never thought I'd see the day when the Obama administration would join with the National Rifle Association to defend the killing of wolves. That's what happened last Friday when the NRA sought to intervene against the Center for Biological Diversity's lawsuit to put the northern Rockies gray wolf back on the endangered species list and save it from being gunned down in Idaho and Montana.
In a bizarre legal filing, the NRA included testimony from one of its members describing a "most life-threatening encounter with wolves" in which he threw snowballs at 30 wolves and they . . . they . . . ran away. When will the horror end? Wolves in the northern Rockies have much more to worry about than NRA snowballs: More than a hundred have been mowed down by state and private gunmen since the species was removed from the endangered species list. The killing, unfortunately, is backed by the Obama administration.
Read more in the Helena Independent Record.
With developers planning to destroy Tejon Ranch's most biologically important area, an organized movement is now afoot to preserve the ranch forever as a national park. For many years, the Center has called for this amazing swath of biodiversity-rich land to be conserved as a state or national park. Now, the New National Parks Project has declared that it wholeheartedly agrees.
In an LA Times op-ed on the vital importance of new national parks -- and Tejon Ranch -- the national-park advocacy group's Erica Rosenburg laments the day in 2008 when certain environmental groups agreed to sacrifice a key area of the ranch (including protected California condor habitat) to development in order to save most of the ranch. Why, asks Rosenburg, can't we protect all of the ranch, completely and forever? Already a biodiversity gem in the midst of development-riddled Southern California, the ranch should join America's other "crown jewels," from Yellowstone to Yosemite, as a place to be conserved for the benefit of animals, plants, and people alike.
Read Rosenburg's article in the Los Angeles Times.
Thanks for helping the Center for Biological Diversity generate an amazing 83,000 comments asking the U.S. Forest Service to protect the endangered Sierra Nevada bighorn. The agency listened, and this summer pulled domestic sheep off three high-elevation grazing allotments that threaten bighorns with disease transmission.
We'll keep working to protect bighorns from disease transmission on these allotments and everywhere else they're at high risk.
Learn more about our campaign to save the Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep.
The Center for Biological Diversity is gearing up for the International Day of Climate Action this October 24. On that day, people all over the world will gather to take a stand for a safe climate future -- and you know what that means: getting atmospheric carbon dioxide levels down to 350 parts per million soon. The Center will soon launch a Web site describing 350 reasons to save the climate: 350 species being driven to extinction by global warming, from the polar bear to the Peck's cave amphipod to . . . well . . . you. Each species will have a profile and a photo.
You can participate by taking a photo of yourself, your friends, or your family with images or toy versions of your favorite species and sending them to us for our collection of pics to post on our site. You'll also be able to take action by contacting the White House to demand the strong climate legislation we need to save all 350 of the profiled species -- including humans -- and so many more.
If you were an endangered songbird, what would you do to bring your kind back from the brink of extinction? Trampas, a male loggerhead shrike, knows a pretty good way: Mate, mate, mate -- and mate some more. Since Trampas was hatched in captivity in 2001, he's definitely done his part for the loggerhead shrikes on California's San Clemente Island, siring 62 chicks. From those chicks have come 93 grandchicks, 61 great-grandchicks, and 25 great-great-grandchicks . . . and there are more on the way. Not long ago, loggerhead shrikes in the San Clemente Island subspecies were at barely a dozen, and now more than 80 breeding pairs fly free in the wild, with more than 60 birds in captivity -- largely thanks to Trampas. And don't worry, ladies, Trampas is (mostly) a one-bird guy: His favorite mate, Mrs. Trampas, deserves credit, too.
Read more in the Los Angeles Times.
Photo credits: Florida panther courtesy USFWS; green sturgeon (c) Dan W. Gotshall; Florida panther by Larry Richardson, USFWS; arroyo toad courtesy USGS; loggerhead sea turtle courtesy NPS; gray wolf courtesy NPS; gray wolf courtesy NPS; Tejon Ranch (c) Andrew Harvey/visualjourneys.net; Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep courtesy California Department of Fish and Game; polar bear (c) Larry Master/masterimages.org; loggerhead shrike courtesy USFW
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