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Endangered Species Condom Project Launched for Valentine's Day

Just in time for Valentine's Day, this morning the Center for Biological Diversity's network of more than 3,000 volunteers began distributing 100,000 free Endangered Species Condoms in every state in the United States. We also launched a new Web site -- www.EndangeredSpeciesCondoms.com -- to distribute additional free condoms, educate people about how human overpopulation is crowding other species off the planet, and give people a chance to win free condoms for life.

The condoms come in six different packages with original artwork and edgy slogans featuring the polar bear ("Wrap with care, save the polar bear"), jaguar ("Wear a jimmy hat, save the big cat"), American burying beetle ("Cover your tweedle, save the burying beetle"), snail darter ("Hump smarter, save the snail darter"), coquí guajón rock frog ("Use a stopper, save the hopper"), and spotted owl ("Wear a condom now, save the spotted owl").

"Human overpopulation is destroying wildlife habitat at an unprecedented rate," said Randy Serraglio, a conservation advocate leading the Center's overpopulation campaign.

"All of the major threats to the earth's biodiversity -- sprawl, logging, mining, dams, pollution, and climate change -- are driven by human overpopulation. Our Endangered Species Condoms are designed to capture peoples' attention, get them laughing, and get them talking about the impact of overpopulation on our small and fragile planet."

Check out www.EndangeredSpeciesCondoms.com, pass the link on to your friends, and spread the word about overpopulation.


82 Corals Get Closer to Protection

In response to a scientific petition by the Center for Biological Diversity, this Tuesday the National Marine Fisheries Service announced it's launching a full status review to determine whether 82 corals deserve federal protections. The corals, threatened chiefly by global warming and ocean acidification, have been determined by the Center to be the most imperiled species in U.S. waters, all of them faced with population declines of 30 percent or greater. The Center has already earned Endangered Species Act protection for elkhorn and staghorn coral -- the first species ever to earn protection from global warming.

"The status review is an important step forward in protecting coral reefs, which scientists have warned may be the first worldwide ecosystem to collapse due to global warming," said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director at the Center for Biological Diversity. "Endangered Species Act protection can provide a safety net for corals on the brink of extinction."

Read more in the Washington Post.


Massive Nevada Water Siphon Stopped

In a huge win for the driest North American desert and the species that call it home, the Nevada Supreme Court has overturned dozens of water-rights applications to pump groundwater up to 300 miles to temporarily shore up unsustainable growth in Las Vegas. If the Southern Nevada Water Authority were to mine the groundwater as intended, it would cause widespread desertification and would likely drive extinct desert springsnails and endangered fish like the Moapa dace. The court's ruling is a result of a lawsuit by the Great Basin Water Network -- a coalition of groups including the Center for Biological Diversity -- and Defenders of Wildlife. The Water Network plans to file protests against any water rights re-filed.

"Justice has prevailed for now," said Rob Mrowka, the Center's Nevada conservation advocate. "This decision in the state supreme court is a significant victory for the environment, the affected rural communities in Nevada and Utah, and due process and equal access to government. Maybe most importantly, it allows the Clark County Commission and other local government members of the Southern Nevada Water Authority to step back and open a dialogue with the residents of Las Vegas to establish a vision and plan for long-term sustainability."

Read more in the Los Angeles Times.


American Pika Denied U.S. Protection

Ignoring science and the law, last Thursday the Obama administration denied the Center for Biological Diversity's petition to grant Endangered Species Act protection to the American pika. The small, mountain-dwelling mammal is adapted to cold climates and is seriously threatened by global warming; it can die when exposed to temperatures as mild as 78 degrees Fahrenheit for a few hours and need insulating snowpack to survive the winter. Warming-caused high temperatures have already led to dramatic losses of lower-elevation pika populations. If pikas don't get federal protection soon, they'll be pushed upslope until they run out of habitat.

As pika experts wrote in the journal Bioscience last month: "They're already at the top of the mountain. If you heat it up substantially, there's no place for them to go."

Read more in the New York Times.


Mexico to Reintroduce Wolves Near U.S. Border

As early as this month, the Mexican government will reintroduce five endangered Mexican gray wolves to northeastern Sonora, leaving the wolves within easy roaming distance of the Sky Islands ecosystem in southern Arizona and New Mexico. It's a good move for the wolves, which would greatly benefit from connectivity between habitat in Mexico and in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area further north. The livestock industry isn't happy about the reintroduction, to say the least, but any wolves that wander into the country will enjoy the full protection of the Endangered Species Act, unlike the "experimental non-essential" wolves already in the Southwest. Mexico's move comes just as the latest count of Mexican wolves in the United States dropped dangerously low, to just 42 animals -- ten less than were counted last year -- possibly due to inbreeding depression stemming from past government wolf trapping and shooting that reduced the population's genetic diversity

Late last month, the Center for Biological Diversity went to court to save the persecuted animal, filing suit to force a federal response to our petition to reshape and reinvigorate the Mexican gray wolf recovery effort.

Read more in the Arizona Daily Star.


Verde River in Danger: Officials Resist Ruling on Arizona Pipeline

To save Arizona's life-sustaining Verde River from a massive pipeline that would dry it up, in 2009 the Center for Biological Diversity sued the city of Prescott for illegally withholding records on the pipeline -- but Prescott is still withholding them. In fact, the city is trying to impose a three-week delay on the lawsuit's ruling -- and it's now been illegally withholding the records for 20 months. So last week, the Center submitted a motion to stop the delay.

The 45-mile Big Chino Ranch pipeline would suck 13 million gallons of water per day from the Big Chino aquifer to fuel rampant development in central Arizona. The Verde River relies on springs from the aquifer for 80 percent of its base flow -- without which the rushing waterway would be a dry wash. Many endangered species -- including the desert nesting bald eagle, razorback sucker, roundtail chub, and southwestern willow flycatcher -- depend on the Verde for survival.

Check out our press release and learn more about our campaign to save the Verde.


Feds Propose Budget Cuts for Species Listing

Even with 1,000 U.S. species in desperate need of federal protection, as identified by the Center for Biological Diversity, the Obama administration has now proposed a cut in the budget for its endangered species protection program. That means even less funding for placing species on the endangered species list, helping those species recover, and enforcing laws to save protected species from harm -- as well as a 9-percent cut in funds for conserving the 249 "candidates" that are officially recognized as deserving Endangered Species Act protection but have already been pushed to the side, many for decades, due to lack of resources to aid them.

To confront the administration's apparent indifference about saving our country's biodiversity, the Center has launched a campaign to save America's 1,000 most endangered species by getting them on the endangered species list, keeping them there as long as necessary, and earning them protected "critical habitat" and recovery plans.

Read about the budget cuts in our press release and learn more about our campaign to save 1,000 species.


Grazing Private Cows on Public Lands Remains Dirt Cheap

In bad news for the desert tortoise, Mexican spotted owl, Oregon spotted frog, and countless other endangered species, federal agencies have announced they won't increase the fee in 2010 for each cow and calf the livestock industry grazes on 258 million acres of western public lands. Now at a paltry $1.35 -- 12 cents more than in 1966 - the fee falls far short of market rates ($10 per animal), far short of what agencies spend to administer grazing permits, and most importantly, far short of needed revenue to correct livestock grazing's dire ecological effects. Besides wreaking havoc on habitat for species of all kinds, livestock grazing is a main factor contributing to unnaturally severe western wildfires, watershed degradation, soil loss, and the spread of invasive plants.

The Center for Biological Diversity and other groups have petitioned the federal government to increase the grazing fee to account for administrative and ecological costs. We don't intend to let the federal grazing program continue to make the public subsidize public-land destruction and species endangerment.

Check out our press release and learn more about our campaign against destructive grazing.


Take Action to Protect Beluga Habitat

In response to a notice of intent to sue by the Center for Biological Diversity, last December the National Marine Fisheries Service finally proposed protected "critical habitat" for imperiled beluga whales in Alaska's polluted Cook Inlet. Once numbering more than 1,000 individuals, Cook Inlet belugas are now down to about 300 -- and their habitat is the fastest-developing watershed in Alaska. But the Fisheries Service is under pressure from the oil and coal industries, as well as Alaska's congressional delegation, to slash the habitat protections the beluga needs so badly. The Service needs to hear from you to make sure that its habitat proposal is expanded -- not reduced -- to ensure the beautiful white whale's survival.

Take action now to protect habitat for the Cook Inlet beluga and learn more about our campaign to save the whale.


Silence: An Endangered Commodity

According to audio ecologist Gordon Hempton, silence isn't necessarily noiseless -- it's simply "the complete absence of all audible mechanical vibrations . . . the presence of everything, undisturbed." But it's rapidly becoming too much to ask for. In fact, Hempton says, there are fewer than a dozen sizable sites of silence remaining in the United States, and none in Europe. "Even in our national parks today," says Hempton, "despite laws to protect them, you are much more likely to be hearing noise pollution, particularly overhead aircraft, than you are to be hearing only native sounds of the land."

Why does silence matter? Through it, "we are given the opportunity to not only heal but discover something incredible -- the presence of life, interwoven! . . . And like all music, good or bad, it affects us deeply."

Read more in Newsweek and learn about the Center for Biological Diversity's campaign to rein in noisy off-road vehicles on quiet public lands.


Kierán Suckling
Executive Director


Photo credits: condom package image designs by Lori Lieber, artwork by the Endangered Species Print Project, (c) 2010; Montipora flabellata (c) Keoki Stende; Moapa dace courtesy USFWS; American pika (c) Larry Master, MasterImages.org; Mexican gray wolves by Val Halstead, Wolf Haven International; bald eagle (c) Robin Silver; Oregon spotted frog by Kelly McAllister, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife; Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep courtesy California Department of Fish and Game; beluga whales (c) Mike Tiller, MCT Images; San Bernardino National Forest by Monica Bond.

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