Emperor Penguins Win Protection
Following more than a decade of legal work by the Center for Biological Diversity — and more than 63,000 comments from supporters like you — this week the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finally protected emperor penguins under the Endangered Species Act. We first petitioned for these iconic birds in 2011, successfully suing in 2019 to prompt a decision.
Protection comes not a moment too soon. Emperor penguins need reliable sea ice for breeding and raising chicks. As climate change melts and breaks up that ice, whole colonies are declining or vanishing in parts of Antarctica. Meanwhile krill, one of their main food sources, are also disappearing due to melting sea ice, ocean acidification and industrial fisheries.
“The Service’s decision is a big win for these beloved, iconic penguins and all of us who want them to thrive,” said the Center's Climate Science Director Shaye Wolf. “The penguins’ very existence depends on whether our government takes strong action now to cut climate-heating fossil fuels and prevent irreversible damage to life on Earth.”
Suit Aims to Save Lesser Prairie Chickens
Lesser prairie chickens — with their foot-stomping, bristling-eyebrow mating dances — are gone from all but a fraction of their grassland homes in Texas and eastern New Mexico. So on Tuesday the Center sued the Fish and Wildlife Service to make it take action to protect them.
“It’s haunting to think that videos of the lesser prairie chicken’s intricate dance may be all that’s left for future generations,” said the Center’s Michael Robinson. “We can’t let that happen. The oil and gas industry has fought for decades against safeguards for the prairie chickens, and the Fish and Wildlife Service has slow-walked every step in the protection process. These wonderful birds need our help right now.”
Oppose Fossil Fuel Production on Public Lands
Even as the climate emergency brings devastating fires, floods, and super-hurricanes, Big Oil’s allies in Congress have made matters worse by passing the Inflation Reduction Act, which holds renewable energy hostage to continued fossil fuel extraction on public lands. This will lock in decades of climate pollution we simply can’t afford.
With the Inflation Reduction Act’s first oil and gas lease sales already planned for Wyoming, New Mexico and Kansas, we need to act now.
Rare Cuckoo Bumblebees Closer to Protection
Thanks to a Center lawsuit, the Fish and Wildlife Service agreed it will decide whether Suckley’s cuckoo bumblebees deserve Endangered Species Act protection by Dec. 2024.
Partly named after cuckoo birds — the avian world’s most famous brood parasites — these parasitic bumblebees have a fascinating story. A female fights or sneaks into a western bumblebee colony, kills or subdues the host colony’s queen, lays her own eggs, and gains control of that colony’s worker bees, who then feedher offspring.
Suckley’s cuckoo bumblebees help maintain ecosystem diversity and the health of bumblebee communities. But they’ve already declined by more than 90%, with only a few individuals spotted over the past two decades.
Revelator: The Free Agent Beaver
Beavers get good press for helping watershed health, stabilizing water tables and other ecosystem services. But are we doing these animals a disservice by thinking of them as tools to fix human-caused problems?
Coming Together to Tackle Wildlife Trade
Every year millions of animals are plucked from their homes for the global wildlife trade. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, aka CITES, brings together 184 countries every three years to decide which species need saving from that trade.
CITES next meets this November in Panama — and the Center will be there. We’ll press for measures to help save turtles, elephants, pangolins, sea cucumbers, rhinos, vaquitas and many other species from devastating exploitation.
Today: Help Tackle the Climate Emergency
Climate change is here, and the stakes couldn't be higher: wildfires raging, rivers drying up due to severe drought, species suffering on the brink of extinction. And fossil fuels are the main cause.
The last two years of President Biden’s current administration are critical to protecting life on Earth from climate catastrophe. He has the authority to accelerate the end of the fossil fuel era. But it’s up to us to get him to act.
Report: Atlantic Right Whales Still in Decline
North Atlantic right whales — whose lives the Center has worked to save for almost 15 years — continue to lose numbers. A new report says only around 340 of the great whales now survive, and only 15 calves were born this year. That’s far below what the population needs to recover.
“This is yet another sad confirmation that right whales desperately need more federal protection from deadly ship strikes and fishing-gear entanglements,” said Kristen Monsell, our Oceans legal director. “The silver lining here is a moderate decline in deaths that underscores how incredibly resilient right whales are. These whales are fighting so hard against extinction, and they can survive and recover if we just stop killing them.”
That’s Wild: Looking for Halloween Mask Inspo?
This close-up of a carpenter ant is freaking out a lot of people on social media. Just in time for spooky season, the photo went viral after winning honors in Nikon’s 2022 Small World Photomicrography Competition.
Its creator, wildlife photographer Dr. Eugenijus Kavaliauskas, acknowledges that some might find the ant’s face scary because humans know so little about nature. But he thinks it’s interesting and beautiful.
“There are no horrors in nature — only lack of knowledge,” he said.
Carpenter ants are known for their close relationship to aphids, from whom they “milk” a sweet liquid called honeydew by stroking them with their antennae. Some carpenter ants in Asia commit suicide to protect their nest by letting their heads explode to release a gluey, toxic substance that immobilizes enemies.
Fascinating or freaky? Maybe a little of both.
Center for Biological Diversity | Saving Life on Earth
Photo credits: Emperor penguins by Ian Duffy; lesser prairie chicken by Dan Wundrock/USGS; oil drilling courtesy BLM; Suckley's cuckoo bumblebee by Hadel Go/American Museum of Natural History; beaver by Dick Slipp; rhinocerous by Tanya Sanerib/Center for Biological Diversity; air pollution by Ralf Vetterle/Pixabay; North Atlantic right whales courtesy NOAA; carpenter ant by Dr. Eugenijus Kavaliauskas.
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