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Thanks: A Video From Center Board and Staff

From all of us at the Center for Biological Diversity, thanks for supporting us last year. Your donations, emails, and phone calls helped make 2009 a success.

We secured more than 40 million acres of critical habitat for species including the Canada lynx, Alaskan sea otter, and green sturgeon. With your actions and hard work by our scientists and lawyers, we also stopped uranium mining on a million acres near the Grand Canyon, put an end to the killing of wolves in the Great Lakes, and won a proposal for 128 million acres of habitat for the polar bear.

From all of us at the Center, thank you. To kick off 2010, here's a message of thanks from the Center's board chair, Marcey Olajos, and me. Click here to watch our video.

As 2010 starts, our campaign to protect 1,000 species is in full gear and you'll be hearing updates on our jaguar, panther, and penguin cases very soon. Check out our video and then click on the link to view our Saving America's 1,000 Most Endangered Species campaign page.


Leatherback Sea Turtles to Win 45 Million Acres

In response to a petition by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies, this Tuesday the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration proposed to set aside almost 45 million acres of protected "critical habitat" for endangered leatherback sea turtles off California, Oregon, and Washington. If the proposal is finalized, it will mark the first time critical habitat is designated for sea turtles in ocean waters of the continental United States. Unfortunately, the current plan leaves out a large expanse of foraging and migratory areas and fails to protect the turtles from fishing-gear entanglement -- even though it's a leading cause of death for the species. A final critical habitat rule is due in a year.

"Today's proposal marks the first step in making sure these giant turtles have a safe and productive place to feed after their amazing swim across the entire Pacific Ocean," said Center attorney Andrea Treece. "Now the government needs to take the next step and improve its proposal by incorporating more of the species' key habitat areas and addressing one of the worst threats to leatherback survival -- entanglement in commercial fishing gear."

Read more in the Oregonian.


California Old-growth Forest Saved

After the Center for Biological Diversity contested a plan to log one of the very last remnants of old-growth redwoods in California's Santa Cruz Mountains, this Monday the state's Department of Fish and Game declared the plan shouldn't be approved. Our comments pointed out that the area is home to the extremely endangered marbled murrelet, a seabird that has been declining for many years and is dependent on old-growth trees for its survival. Due to extensive logging in California, only 3 to 5 percent of the state's original old-growth forest is left -- meaning serious trouble for the murrelet. Our comments made clear that any additional loss is unacceptable.

In its memo rejecting the logging plan, Fish and Game proclaimed the plan must be revised so that no old-growth trees are cut down. The Center will continue to follow the issue closely to ensure the protection of those trees.

Learn more about our campaign to stop destructive logging on our Forests Web page, where you can also read our comments and Fish and Game's memo. Then learn more about the marbled murrelet.


Center to File Suit to Protect Penguins

To save penguins endangered by global warming and other threats, this week the Center for Biological Diversity filed a formal notice that we'll sue if the Obama administration fails to move forward on protecting seven penguin species. After a Center petition for 12 penguin species -- which are primarily imperiled by global warming and industrial fisheries -- the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed Endangered Species Act protection for seven penguins. But the agency missed its December deadline to finalize those protections. A place on the endangered species list for the penguins will require national action to slow climate change, as well as protection for penguins from fisheries, oil pollution, habitat loss, and other threats.

"Instead of protecting penguins and taking meaningful steps to address global warming," said Center biologist Shaye Wolf, "our government is dragging its feet while penguins are marching toward extinction." The Center has also notified the administration we'll sue over its failure to propose protections for emperor and rockhopper penguins

Read more in E & E News.


Grazing Halted on 51,000 Acres to Save Bighorn, Butterfly

After challenges by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies, this week the U.S. Forest Service righted two decisions that would have allowed destructive cattle grazing in California habitat for the endangered Peninsular bighorn sheep and Quino checkerspot butterfly. The Service withdrew one decision and reversed another, together which would have reauthorized grazing on 51,000 acres of public land in the San Jacinto Mountains. The Peninsular bighorn competes with livestock for water, scarce forage, and other resources it needs to survive, while the Quino checkerspot can't afford to lose any more of its remaining habitat to the tearing jaws and trampling feet of cattle.

"The Forest Service has made the right decisions for these allotments," said Center biologist Ileene Anderson. "The agency needs to give much closer scrutiny to its duty to conserve endangered species."

Check out our press release and learn more about our campaigns to save species from grazing.


Desert Tortoise Spared Off-road Ruin

After a Center for Biological Diversity challenge, last week a judge overturned a decision to open two off-road vehicle routes imperiling threatened desert tortoises in California's Mojave Desert. The routes, planned for a site of critical environmental concern directly abutting the Desert Tortoise Natural Area, had been closed in 2002 to protect the tortoise -- but in 2008 the U.S. Bureau of Land Management decided it would be OK to reopen both routes if it introduced an off-road education and permit program that in fact provided no education and tracked no permits. Now the Bureau must close the routes again and go back to the drawing board on off-road planning for the area.

The Center has been working for the desert tortoise since the '90s; we've saved the species from numerous off-road threats and millions of acres of cattle grazing, as well as recently halting a disastrous plan to relocate 1,000-plus tortoises to inferior habitat, killing hundreds of them in the process.

Read more in the San Jose Mercury News.


37 Groups Demand Action for Jaguars

With a court deadline looming due to a Center for Biological Diversity lawsuit, this Tuesday the Center and 36 other groups wrote a letter to the Obama administration requesting designation of critical habitat and development of a recovery plan for endangered jaguars. Ever since the Center compelled the jaguar's placement on the endangered species list for its U.S. population in 1997, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has refused to either designate critical habitat for jaguars or develop a recovery plan for them.  In the Center's third round of litigation since 2004 calling for both moves (and after a previous settlement agreement still resulted in no action), last year a judge ordered the agency to reconsider its stance by January 8, 2010. Time's almost up, and the jaguar needs action now.

The last known wild U.S. jaguar was killed last year after a bungled snaring effort by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, intended for radio-collaring but divorced from the scientific conservation intent of a recovery plan. We're separately suing the state agency to prevent them from killing additional jaguars.  But for the species to reclaim part of its U.S. range with more than just a few animals, it will need critical habitat and a recovery plan.

Check out our press release, where you can also read our letter to the feds, and learn more about our campaign for the jaguar.


2009 Deadliest Year for Florida Panthers and Manatees

On New Year's Eve, a three-month-old Florida panther kitten was tragically hit and killed by a car in Naples, Florida, bringing the number of 2009 panther road kills to 17 -- the highest number ever recorded -- while total 2009 panther deaths reached 24. Florida manatees also suffered a record deadly year with 429 of the majestic animals dying, the largest number since recordkeeping began in 1974. At least 97 of the deaths were due to boat collisions.
With Florida's human population booming, there are more and more roads, more and more cars, and more and more boats. And, of course, less and less habitat and wildlife.

The Center for Biological Diversity just filed a notice of intent to sue the feds for not moving forward on our petition to protect 3 million acres of "critical habitat" for the Florida panther. We've also petitioned to expand manatee protected areas. When both species have enough habitat, the death rates will decline.

Read more in Scientific American.


Video: Last Indian Dancing Bear Set Free

A seven-year campaign by Indian activists to end the exploitation of bears came to a triumphant conclusion at the end of last year when the final dancing bear was set free. Traditionally, wild bears were captured and made to dance for money by "trainers" who controlled the bears with a rope pushed painfully through a hole drilled into their noses.

See a video here of the last dancing bear being set free.


You Bid With Lids, We Won Money -- Thanks

The results are in, and they're great. Through its Bid With Your Lid program, last fall eco-savvy organic yogurt company Stonyfield Farm promised to donate a portion of a $100,000 fund to the Center for Biological Diversity, based on the number of votes we got from people across the country. And you voted. With 27,770 votes, the Center wound up just a fraction of a percentage point short of first place in the program, earning us a whopping $35,371.77 donation from Stonyfield.

Because of your support, our 2010 campaign to save 1,000 animals and plants will kick off with a big extra boost. We and 1,000 others thank you.


Kierán Suckling
Executive Director


Photo credits: leatherback sea turtle by Scott R. Benson, NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center; Kieran Suckling and Marcey Olajos; leatherback sea turtle by Nancy Black, NOAA; marbled murrelet by Gus Vliet Van, USFWS; Peninsular bighorn sheep by Steve Elkins; desert tortoise by Jeff Servoss, USFWS; jaguar courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Cburnett under the GNU free documentation license; southern rockhopper penguin (c) Larry Master/MasterImages.org; Florida panther by George Gentry, USFWS; Indian dancing bear and handler courtesy Wikimedia Commons/www.viajar24h.com under the Creative Commons attribution license; logo courtesy Stonyfield Farm.

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