Lawsuit: Louisiana Black Bear’s Delisting as Endangered was Premature
Posted on November 7, 2017 by GJEP staff
Washington, DC — Survival of the Louisiana black bear requires that it regain protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, according to a notice of intent to file suit released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The filing contends that the 2016 delisting of the Louisiana black bear was extremely premature, based on false premises, and flew in the face of a wealth of the best available science – the standard that is supposed to govern Endangered Species Act (ESA) decisions.
The bear was listed as threatened under the ESA back in 1992, but the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) declared it recovered last year and removed that designation. This decision came despite the fact that the Louisiana black bear has lost 99% of its historic population (with only an estimated 700 bears remaining in the wild) and more than 97% of its historic range.
The PEER notice is co-signed by the Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, the Delta (Louisiana) Chapter of the Sierra Club, the Louisiana Crawfish Producers Association-West, as well as by three eminent Louisiana black bear experts. It argues that the recovery plan relied upon by FWS in its delisting decision actually puts the bear in greater jeopardy, by –
Opening the subspecies up to hybridization with black bears introduced from Minnesota;
Increasing its mortality from vehicle collisions and poaching, the two leading causes of deaths; and
Ignoring habitat loss, especially climate change-induced inundation of bayou swamps, while identifying “recovery corridors” that are not even connecting.
“Delisting the Louisiana black bear was a badly misguided attempt to pull an Endangered Species Act success story out of the hat,” stated PEER Senior Counsel Paula Dinerstein, noting that if the FWS does not re-list the bear within 60 days, then PEER and its co-signers may sue FWS to force that action. “We do not believe stripping the Louisiana black bear of all federal protections withstands judicial scrutiny.”
The Louisiana black bear is one of 16 subspecies of the American black bear. Noted for its narrower and flatter skull, adult males can weigh more than 600 pounds. President Theodore Roosevelt once famously refused to shoot a treed Louisiana black bear because it would not be sporting. The incident went viral (in an early 20th century fashion) with the print press dubbing it “Teddy’s bear” – thus popularizing a stuffed animal bearing that moniker.
The notice also points out that even if the population levels relied upon in the delisting are taken at face value, the population densities are well below normal for well-managed black bear populations.
“Unlike its treed ancestor that received a reprieve, today’s Louisiana black bear is in imminent and deepening peril,” added Dinerstein. “We fear the Louisiana black bear, as a distinct subspecies, will not survive its so-called recovery.”
Category: Climate Justice, Featured, Social Media News Tags: black bear, Louisiana, peer
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New evidence based on the work of entomologists (people who study insects) and published in the journal Plos One reveals an alarming finding: Worldwide insect populations are rapidly declining. Specifically, researchers found more than a 75% decline in flying insects over a 27 year period.
Given how much our ecosystem depends on insects, this finding should trigger additional studies on insect biomass and global interventions to save insects. Bees, butterflies, and insects are primary vectors that pollinate flowers that make most of the plant life on earth grow. We need plants, trees, flowers, and fruits to grow to feed animals and people in order to live. Humans don’t survive without insects and other flying pollinators. Insects also serve as an important food source for other animals including fishes and birds.
Who is guilty of causing this insect Armageddon? According to experts, it’s likely caused by the usual suspects: climate change, the…
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The population of hummingbirds is declining rapidly, with nine species in particular on the brink of extinction. Hummingbirds play a vital role in our ecosystem, and their loss would create a ripple effect that would negatively impact the planet as a whole. Sign this petition to help save these birds from dying off completely.
Source: Save Endangered Hummingbird
By: Alicia Graef
September 29, 2017
Highly endangered orcas in the Pacific Northwest continue to face a host of threats to their survival, and now they’ve suffered another heartbreaking loss with the death of a young male.
These orcas, otherwise known as the southern resident killer whales (SRKW), live in three distinct pods (J,K and L), who travel through Puget Sound, the Straight of Georgia and the Strait of Juan de Fuca during the summer months before migrating to open ocean in the winter.
Tragically, even with live captures being banned, federal protection in the U.S. and Canada and millions spent on research and recovery efforts, they’ve yet to make a comeback.
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This week, the Center for Whale Research, which keeps an official census of these orcas, broke devastating news with an announcement that a two-year-old male, Sonic (J52), had passed away. He is believed to have died from malnutrition.
According to CWR, he was last seen on September 15, looking lethargic, while photos taken at the time showed severe “peanut-head” syndrome (when their head becomes concave around the blowhole), which is associated with impending death. He was with his mother and another adult male, who were tending to him miles away from the rest of the pod, and was believed to be “hours, if not minutes” away from death at the time. His mother and the male were spotted days later, but he was gone.
Sonic was part of the so-called baby boom for these orcas that began in 2014, but as CWR noted, with his passing three of the six whales born in the J pod during that boom have died, along with two mothers and a great-grandmother.
Their population has dropped from 83 as of last year, to just 76 individuals today (not counting Lolita at the Miami Seaquarium), and time to save them is quickly running out.
While they continue to face a number of compounding threats ranging from boat traffic and noise to toxic pollutants, many believe the biggest problem now is a lack of food. Their main food source, Chinook salmon, is also endangered due to habitat loss, overfishing, and having their migration and spawning grounds blocked by hydroelectric dams.
“If something isn’t done to enhance SRKW prey availability almost immediately (it takes a few years for a Chinook salmon to mature and reproduce, and it takes about twelve years for a female SRKW to mature and reproduce), extinction of this charismatic resident population of killer whales is inevitable in the calculable future,” wrote Kenneth Balcolm, CWR’s founder.
Advocates for these orcas have pushed to expand critical habitat, with widespread public support, and are continuing to call for immediate action to help them survive, particularly calling for the removal of four lower Snake River dams in Washington and on the Klamath River in Oregon and Northern California, which is expected to have a huge impact on salmon recovery. Hopefully Sonic’s death will increase public pressure and help garner the political will to accomplish more protective measures.
For more on how to help, check out the Southern Resident Killer Whale Chinook Salmon Initiative, Center for Whale Research, Orca Network and Whale and Dolphin Conservation.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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WASHINGTON— The annual overwintering count of monarch butterflies released last week confirms butterfly numbers fell by nearly one-third from last year’s count, indicating an ongoing risk of extinction for America’s most well-known butterfly. Scientists report that this year’s population is down by 27 percent from last year’s count, and down by more than 80 percent from the mid-1990s. This year’s drastic decline is attributed in part to more extreme winter storms that killed millions of monarchs last March in Mexico’s mountain forests, where 99 percent of the world’s monarchs migrate for the winter.
“The monarch butterfly is still in really big trouble and still needs really big help if we’re going to save this beloved orange-and-black wonder for future generations,” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity.
A recent study by the U.S. Geological Survey concluded that there is a substantial probability that monarch butterflies east of the Rockies could decline to such low levels that they face extinction. Researchers estimate the probability that the monarch migration could collapse within the next 20 years is between 11 percent and 57 percent.
“In addition to threats from more frequent and harsher weather events, monarchs are still severely jeopardized by the ever-increasing pesticides used with genetically-engineered crops, destroying their habitat,” said George Kimbrell, senior attorney at the Center for Food Safety. “We will continue to do everything we can to ensure monarchs have a future.”
The butterfly’s dramatic decline has been driven in large part by the widespread planting of genetically engineered crops. The vast majority of U.S. corn and soybeans are genetically engineered for resistance to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, a potent killer of milkweed, the monarch caterpillar’s only food. The dramatic surge in the use of Roundup and other herbicides with the same active ingredient (glyphosate) on Roundup Ready crops has virtually wiped out milkweed plants in the Midwest’s corn and soybean fields.
In the past 20 years, scientists estimate, these once-common, iconic orange-and-black butterflies may have lost more than 165 million acres of habitat — an area about the size of Texas — including nearly a third of their summer breeding grounds. Logging on the monarch’s Mexican wintering grounds is also an ongoing concern. Scientists have also identified threats to the monarch during the fall migration including lack of nectaring habitat and insecticides.
Found throughout the United States during summer months, most monarchs from east of the Rockies winter in the mountains of central Mexico, where they form tight clusters on trees. Scientists from World Wildlife Fund Mexico estimate the population size by counting the number of hectares of trees covered by monarchs. Monarchs need a very large population size to be resilient to threats from severe weather events, pesticides, climate change, disease and predation. A single winter storm in 2002 killed an estimated 500 million monarchs, roughly five times the size of the current population.
Concerns over the extinction risk of the monarch led the Center for Biological Diversity, the Center for Food Safety, the Xerces Society and renowned monarch scientist Dr. Lincoln Brower to petition the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2014 to protect the butterfly as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The Service is now conducting a review of its status and must decide on protection by 2019. In Canada, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife has recommended that the Canadian government list the monarch as an endangered species. Monarch butterfly migration is now recognized as a “threatened process” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
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The Zoological Society of London (ZSL), Panthera, and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) recently collaborated on a comprehensive global survey of cheetah populations. Their findings are alarming.
According to this press release from Panthera, there are only 7,100 cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) left in the wild. They have lost 91% of their historic range, and 79% of wild cheetah populations number less than 100 individuals. The situation is particularly bad for the Asiatic cheetah; totaling fewer than 50 cats in Iran. In short, the cheetah is running out of time.
A number of factors have contributed to this decline. Habitat loss, poaching, live trafficking for the exotic pet trade, and loss of prey from bushmeat hunting threaten cheetahs throughout their range. Outside of protected areas, human-wildlife conflict (when cheetahs are killed due to…
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The last remaining orcas in a pristine ocean habitat could be killed off soon by a pipeline expansion. The pipeline would make the orca habitat unlivable and increase the risks of an oil spill. Sign this petition to ask Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau to oppose this project and save these majestic creatures.
Something is in the water at Lake Titicaca, and it isn’t anything healthy. 10,000 Titicaca water frogs have been found dead across a 30 mile area between Bolivia and Peru.
This particular species of frog is incredibly unique, in that it is entirely aquatic and lives permanently underwater. It is also critically endangered.
The frogs use their skin to absorb oxygen from the water they live in, and because of the many folds and wrinkles they have, their effective surface area is increased drastically to help increase their underwater breathing ability.
According to Peru’s National Forestry and Wildlife Service, the group is currently evaluating what has happened and will likely be performing a formal investigation.
The Committee Against the Pollution of the Coata River has believed for some time that the most recent deaths are due to rampant pollution. And it isn’t the first time something like this has happened. Another mass-death occurred a little more than a year ago in the same area.
“I’ve had to bring them the dead frogs,” said protest leader Maruja Inquilla to AFP. “The authorities don’t realize how we’re living. They have no idea how major the problem is. The situation is maddening.”
In 2015 when the first mass-death event occurred, it went largely unnoticed by the Peruvian authorities despite the plentiful reports on the situation.
According to Arturo Muñoz of the Bolivian Amphibian Initiative, the deaths are likely a result of high sulfur levels in the lake which have been made worse by strong winds and heavy rains.
“In December 2014, there was a bloom of algae that turned the water in the area completely green,” Muñoz said to IFLScience. “The bloom of the algae also causes an unbalance in all water parameters.”
Muñoz believes the high sulfide levels and the previous algae bloom were the two main causes for the frog deaths.
This explanation however does little to explain the largely unchecked pollution levels that have been previously reported in Lake Titicaca.
On the southeastern shore of the lake in Bolivia, pollution has run rampant from the quickly-growing city of El Alto.
There are 130 factories operating in El Alto, and nearly seventy percent of them are run illegally with zero pollution monitoring.
Despite there being an authority to manage to lake, the group is poorly funded and understaffed, making it nearly impossible to make any real changes to the surrounding area.
If these already endangered frogs are to be preserved, there needs to be a significant change in the governing bodies that are in change of the lake in both Bolivia and Peru.
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Endangered whales are getting tangled in fishing gear, killing them and threatening the recovery of their species. Demand a change in fishing methods to protect right whales from the threat of extinction.
Endangered species are being openly served as specialty dishes while wild animals are sold to tourists as pets, in a Peruvian town. Demand that Peru put an end to these cruel activities by fiercely enforcing bans on selling wild game and selling wild animals as pets.
An endangered blue whale is currently trapped in a fishing net and is fighting for its life. The whale is swimming slowly and is in grave danger. We are seeking an immediate ban on fishing nets near blue whale habitat and a full scale effort to rescue this trapped and suffering whale.
Urging the World Wildlife Fund to protect an endangered and valuable species.
Source: Protect the Tri-Colored Bat
These Are The Last 3 Animals Of Their Kind Left In The Wild
By Stephen Messenger
May. 08, 2016
Addax, with their distinctive twisting horns, were once a common sight throughout North African Sahara — but their existence in the wild today is perilously close to being just a memory.
Thomas Rabeil/Sahara Conservation Fund
The endangered desert-going antelope, numbering in the hundreds less than a decade ago, have been pushed to “imminent extinction,” say researchers.
According to a new report from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), an extensive survey across the species’ main habitat in Niger turned up a group of just three remaining individuals.
The IUCN describes those survivors as being “very nervous” — and for good reason.
In recent years, new oil installations have caused significant disruption in the region where addax migrate. That, coupled with a spike in poaching by soldiers guarding those facilities, is said to be the primary factor which have led species’ rapid decline.
“We are witnessing in real time the extinction of this iconic and once plentiful species — without immediate intervention, the addax will lose its battle for survival in the face of illegal, uncontrolled poaching and the loss of its habitat,” Jean-Christophe Vié, Deputy Director of the IUCN’s Global Species Programme, said in the release.
Though there is hope that more addax remain uncounted, their population in the wild is still likely too small to recover on its own. There are a few thousand of these animals held in captivity throughout the world, however, some of whom could be reintroduced to North Africa.
Ironically, as Scientific America points out, addax can still be found by the hundreds on private ranches in Texas — where they are still being raised to be killed for sport.
Suitable land for endangered African antelopes is becoming increasingly scarce, according to a recent study. Sign to ensure land fragmentation does not divide these areas into even smaller habitats.
Leopards are at greater risk than generally believed, having lost three-fourths of their territory. Sign this petition to demand increased conservation efforts for leopards to keep the species from heading toward extinction.
Source: Protect Leopards From Extinction
The decline of Pacific herring populations is creating serious consequences for marine wildlife that rely on the herring for food. Demand that Canada stop fishing the Pacific herring today in order to avoid dire consequences for entire ecosystems.
The rare helmeted hornbill is being poached to extinction for its ivory-like skull which is in high demand in China. Demand a stop to the red ivory trade in order to protect this critically endangered bird.