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Legal Action Taken to Save Bison, 143 Other Species

To save scores of imperiled animals and plants before they succumb to extinction, this Monday the Center for Biological Diversity filed a formal "notice of intent to sue" the Department of the Interior for failing to protect 144 imperiled species -- including the plains bison, California golden trout, black-footed albatross, cactus ferruginous pygmy owl, Tehachapi slender salamander, and giant Palouse earthworm. These species have been waiting years (some up to nine) for federal protection, but have been systematically ignored.

This legal action is part of a larger campaign launched by the Center to protect the 1,000 most imperiled U.S. species in 2010.

Read more in The New York Times.


350,000 Acres Protected From ATVs in Vermont (With Your Help)

Thanks in part to a slew of Center for Biological Diversity supporters who sent emails and letters, a state of Vermont legislative committee unanimously rejected a proposal to open up all the state-owned lands to ATVs. Currently, all state lands in Vermont -- nearly 350,000 acres -- are closed to the destructive vehicles, a fact that was somehow overlooked by a state agency that decided to approve an ATV expansion. It was not overlooked by the public, which commented 4-to-1 to keep the ban in place. Nearly 2,000 comments were sent in on the plan.

Unfortunately, all's not said and done: Vermont Governor Jim Douglas says his administration will overrule the committee's decision and give ATVs free reign. Looks like the public still has some feedback to give. If you live in Vermont, stay tuned for the Center's action alert.

Get more on the victory from the Associated Press and learn about the governor's vow to overturn it from Vermont Public Radio.


Jaguar-killing Case Advances

Last Wednesday, the Center for Biological Diversity filed new court papers showing that that the Arizona Game and Fish Department is still claiming a right to risk the lives of endangered jaguars -- and it's even now risking their lives by trapping for mountain lions in potential jaguar habitat. Setting snares where jaguars may occur is just what the agency was doing when it captured -- and 12 days later killed -- the last known U.S. jaguar, Macho B.

The legal filings are part of the Center's ongoing lawsuit to stop the agency from doing anything likely to injure or kill other jaguars still surviving in the United States, or any that might move north of the Mexican border, until and unless the agency gets a permit to do so under the Endangered Species Act. Such a permit would include measures to minimize risks to jaguars.

Read more in the Los Angeles Times.


Report: Dirty Mining Devastating Appalachia

According to a new report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, almost a quarter of the land area of some Appalachia counties has been sanctioned for surface coal mining. As of July 2008, permits had been issued for 435,200 acres of land in West Virginia and a whopping 778,800 acres of land in eastern Kentucky. From 1990 to 2008, Kentucky and West Virginia approved nearly 2,000 stream fills, letting at least 4.9 billion cubic yards of mining waste to be dumped directly into valleys and hollows. And despite a 2-percent annual increase in surface mining in both Kentucky and West Virginia, in Knott County -- one of Kentucky's top surface-mining counties -- 32 percent of residents still live below the poverty line.

"Coal destroys the environment and keeps residents locked in poverty," said Tierra Curry, a Knott County native and scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. "It's time to say enough is enough and end surface coal mining in Appalachia." Through public outreach and online activism, the Center is working to do that.

Read more in the Lexington Herald-Leader.


Redwood Saviors or Cyber Criminals? Center Supporters Update Democracy

5,100 of the Center for Biological Diversity's supporters love the redwoods so much they deluged the California Department of Transportation with emails complaining of the agency's plan to slice a road through the gorgeous Richardson Grove in the state's remove North Coast.

Rather than responding to the public's concern, the Department of Transportation called the State Police Cyber Crime Division to report that they were under attack by hostile forces. Apparently interacting with the public was "diverting" the agency from its real job -- chopping down forests and paving the wilderness. A crime if there ever was one.

A police investigation determined that the agency was suffering from an acute case of citizen involvement, to which there is no cure.

Learn more about Richardson Grove. Then tell CalTrans today that the public wants its redwoods standing, not paved.


Copenhagen in Chaos, Tell Obama to Support Strong Climate Action

Tensions are rising in Copenhagen as it becomes increasingly clear that the United States is scuttling efforts by hundreds of countries to forge an international agreement to deeply slash greenhouse gas emissions. Activists from all over the world demanded yesterday that emissions be reduced in accordance with scientists who say we must cut our pollution by 45 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 if we are to have any chance of bringing atmospheric carbon dioxide back to a safe level of 350 parts per million.

In response, Danish police fired teargas, arrested 260 people, and banned the entire Friends of the Earth delegation from the conference.

The Center is supporting Friends of the Earth, with whom we've long partnered because they're one of the few national environmental groups taking a clear, unambiguous position that U.S. climate policy must be based on a scientific bottom line, preserve the Clean Air Act in its entirety, and reduce atmospheric CO2 to 350 parts per million.

Please call the president today to add to the call for him to pledge reductions of 45 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. And check out the Center live from Copenhagen on our blog.


Newt Ging-grinch Calls Center "Extreme"

Apparently dissatisfied with how his Contract on America turned out, former House Speaker (and fulminating right-wing pundit) Newt Gingrich has put out a Contract on the World, and especially the Center for Biological Diversity, which he complains is an "extremist group." What did we do to incite the grand bloviator?  Our Copenhagen climate team cited American law and the U.S. Supreme Court to demonstrate that President Obama has the authority to sign an international agreement to save the world from global warming.

Giving a bad name to newts, grinches, and extremists, the disgruntled demagogue is blogging and running newspaper ads in Copenhagen calling any and all international climate agreements as "job-killing…new socialism . . . by the totalitarian . . . international elite."

If we don't build an international agreement to tackle global warming soon, Newt, there won't be any jobs, societies, or elites for you to worry about. Check out Gingrich's blog.


2010: Year of the Dugong -- or Dugong Doom?

The World Conservation Union has issued a resolution calling for special protections for the dugong -- a unique, manatee-like marine mammal -- during 2010, the International Year of Biodiversity. Meanwhile, the U.S. military is considering expanding an airbase in the dugong's last remaining habitat in Okinawa, Japan, which could doom Okinawa's dugongs to extinction. So this month, the Center for Biological Diversity led a coalition of groups representing millions of Americans in delivering a letter to the State Department and White House requesting the halt of the expansion and the protection of the dugong and other rare Okinawa wildlife. So far, more than 15,000 letters have been sent by Center supporters asking decision-makers to stop the expansion and save the dugong. Thanks -- and keep writing.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, the U.S. Navy has sent its own letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service opposing plans to expand habitat protections for the dugong's closest cousin, the manatee, in Florida waters where it conducts training exercises. The Center petitioned for those habitat protections, and we won't let the manatee or the dugong be sacrificed for the military's convenience.

Read more in the Scientific American and Sun Sentinel and take action to save the dugong now. Then download our free dugong cell-phone ringtone and wallpaper -- just added to our ringtones site this week.


Clever Octopus "Gobsmacks" Scientists -- Watch the Video

Biologists have just discovered -- and videotaped -- an octopus species that carries around coconut shells and uses them as shelter from predators. Four veined octopuses in Indonesia have been filmed finding halved coconut shells, emptying them out, carrying them with their bodies up to 65 feet, and putting two shells together to make a spherical, impenetrable hiding place. It's the first-ever evidence of an invertebrate intelligent enough to use a tool.

"I was gobsmacked," said Julian Finn, one of the Australian biologists who observed the octopuses' clever antics. "I mean, I've seen a lot of octopuses hiding in shells, but I've never seen one that grabs it up and jogs across the sea floor. I was trying hard not to laugh."

Get the video straight from the astonished biologists and learn more from the Associated Press.


Get Your Free Holiday E-card

Sick of the malls yet? And more particularly, of the environmental havoc wreaked by holiday waste? If you haven't yet taken advantage of the Center for Biological Diversity's online shopping and gift options, check them out now -- and help us save species at the same time. We don't sell plush polar bear and wolf toys made in China, but the Center organic cotton baseball cap is pretty cool. And you can avoid consumption altogether with the best gift membership around -- the Center's, of course.

And guess what? We have a present for you: a series of holiday e-cards you can send to your friends and family without using a single tree-wasting envelope or contributing to a single mailman's gas mileage.

Get gifts for your loved ones and the Earth at the same time through our Green Giving Guide. Then use our holiday e-cards to remind everyone you know of the gifts we've already been given by Mother Nature: countless animal, plant, and fungi species to make our world and lives rich.


Kierán Suckling
Executive Director


Photo credits: plains bison by Jack Dykinga; cactus ferruginous pygmy owl by Aaron Flesch; Vermont courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Jared C. Benedict under the Creative Commons attribution license; jaguar courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Cburnett under the GNU free documentation license; West Virginia mine by Kent Kessinger, courtesy Appalachian Voices and Southwings; Richardson Grove (c) Scott Pargett; youth protest in Copenhagen (c) Brendan Cummings; Newt Gingrich courtey Wikimedia Commons/ajagendorf25 under the Creative Commons attribution license; dugong courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Julien Willem under the GNU free documentation license;  veined octopus courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Nick Hobgood under the Creative Commons attribution license; sea star e-card (c) Steve Elkins.

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