Endangered Earth: The weekly wildlife update from the Center for Biological Diversity.
Petition Filed to Properly Protect Manatees Manatees are dying of starvation. With their seagrass food being destroyed by pollution, more than 1,110 Florida manatees died in 2021 alone, and this year’s death toll — already 735 by early November — could be even higher. So on Monday the Center for Biological Diversity and allies petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to restore adequate federal protection to these gentle, playful marine mammals. In 2017 the Service downgraded manatees’ Endangered Species Act status from “endangered” to the less protective “threatened,” despite the fact that pollution was destroying their habitat and boats were slashing their bodies. Since then the situation has only gotten worse, and their population has dramatically declined. “The Service needs to correct its mistake and protect these desperately imperiled animals,” said Center attorney Ragan Whitlock. Help our fight against manatee mortality by giving to our Saving Life on Earth Fund — all donations today will be doubled.
Finally, Protection Scored for a Favorite Bird This holiday season we’re celebrating a very special bird. No, not turkeys — we’re talking about lesser prairie chickens, who just won much-needed Endangered Species Act protection. Though lesser prairie chickens once roamed the Great Plains by the millions, habitat degradation has reduced them to a small fraction of their historic range. They have a special place in our heart: The Center’s predecessor organization, the Biodiversity Legal Foundation, first petitioned for their protection 27 years ago. We’re delighted these dancing grouse have a second lease on life. And we’re deeply grateful to you, our supporters, for being by our side — even through the long battles like this one. Time and time again, our shared vision and passion lead to critical wins for the wild.
1.2 Million Acres for Florida Bonneted Bats Development and pesticide use nearly drove Florida bonneted bats extinct — until the Center sued, gaining them Endangered Species Act protection in 2013. But they need protected habitat, too, so with allies we sued again in 2018 and yet again this year. Finally, following a court-ordered agreement, this Monday the Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to safeguard nearly 1.2 million acres for the bats, threatened by climate change, sea-level rise and more. But the Service has left out crucial areas that are threatened by immediate development, and it needs to add in those areas to protect all the places bonneted bats need for their recovery.
Celebrating a Big Win for Black Bears After years of public outcry and thousands of comments from Center supporters, Washington just voted to adopt a policy ending its spring black bear hunt. It was one of only eight U.S. states — 41 of which harbor black bears — still allowing a hunt in the spring, when bear families are most vulnerable. Emerging from dens after winter hibernation, black bears are thin and struggling to gain weight — especially mothers who have to feed their cubs. When hunters gun down those groggy mothers, the orphaned cubs often die. “This vote will protect helpless young cubs and end the pointless cruelty of this solely recreational hunt,” said Center attorney Sophia Ressler. Thank you for your help in this victory. To celebrate, head to Facebook or YouTube to watch a precious black bear moment caught on camera.
EPA to Protect Wildlife From Toxic Insecticide After eight years and two lawsuits by the Center and allies, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is now legally required to protect endangered species from an insecticide called cyantraniliprole. This chemical severely harms wildlife — including Fender’s blue butterflies, rusty-patched bumblebees, and other irreplaceable pollinators — and lingers in soil for years after use. “We’re pleased the court ordered the EPA to protect endangered bees and other wildlife from this extremely toxic insecticide,” said Stephanie Parent, a senior attorney at the Center.
We’re Suing to Protect Okefenokee Swamp The Center and allies just went to court challenging a decision to unlawfully reinstate Trump-era determinations that strip federal wetland protections from almost 600 acres key to the health of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge — one of the largest intact freshwater ecosystems left in the world. Our lawsuit defends the swamp from a massive titanium mine proposed for the area, which could move forward without robust environmental review because of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reliance on Trump’s unlawful regulatory rollback. “From red-cockaded woodpeckers to alligator snapping turtles, the Okefenokee supports astounding biodiversity the Army Corps is failing to protect,” said Elise Bennett, the Center’s Florida director.
Revelator: The Value of Sharks (and Book Tours) If a book contains critical conservation messages but nobody reads it, does it make a difference? Shark scientist David Shiffman knew that writing his book,Why Sharks Matter: A Deep Dive With the World’s Most Misunderstood Predator, was only the first step. To generate support for the book’s endangered, poorly understood subjects, he’d need to get the attention of as many folks as possible. So he launched a 40-city book tour to spread the word. Learn all about it — and sharks — in this article he wrote on the road.And don’t miss The Revelator’s free e-newsletter bringing you each week’s best environmental articles and essays.
That’s Wild: Chimps Also Like Sharing Cool Stuff Human babies point at things that intrigue them; we learn show-and-tell in kindergarten. By adulthood we have endless ways to show off things that interest us. But do other species share objects just because, as well? In the case of chimpanzees, a new study says yes. Using remote cameras to observe wild chimps in Uganda, study authors just captured clear footage of a chimp named Fiona showing a leaf to her parent for no self-serving purpose. “She doesn’t want her mum to do anything,” said study coauthor Katie Slocombe. “She just wants them to look at it together, and be like ‘Oh, cool, nice!’ ” Slocombe’s team hopes that sharing their footage will help other researchers identify this social behavior elsewhere.
Center for Biological Diversity | Saving Life on Earth
Photo credits: Florida manatee by Maegan Luckiesh; lesser prairie chicken by Dan Wundrock/USGS; Florida bonneted bat held in towel by Gary Morse/Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; black bear cub from video via Ring; rusty-patched bumblebee by Jill Utrup/USFWS; red-cockaded woodpecker by Martjin Lammertink/USFS; David Shiffman courtesy of the author; chimpanzee by Xin Li/Flickr. Center for Biological DiversityP.O. Box 710Tucson, AZ 85702United States