Monday, February 9, 2015

Legal Effort Launched To Save Rare Evergaldes Bird From Extinction

On behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity and renowned biologist Dr. Stuart Pimm, we have put the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Fish and Wildlife Service on formal notice that the Corps’ activities in managing water resources in Everglades National Park are jeopardizing the continued existence of a highly imperiled Everglades-dwelling species, the Cape Sable seaside sparrow.  The notice explains that the Corps is systematically allowing the flooding of the habitat of a crucial subpopulation of sparrows and that the FWS has now acknowledged that far more must be done to protect this subpopulation, which is essential for the survival and recovery of the species as a whole.  A closely related species – the dusky seaside sparrow – went extinct while on the endangered species list, and we are endeavoring to ensure that the same sad fate does not befall the Cape Sable sparrow.  A copy of our notice letter is here.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Groups Object To Use Of Plutonium At The National Ignition Facility

On behalf of NRDC and Tri-Valley CAREs, we have objected to plans for using plutonium in experiments at the National Ignition Facility (NIF), a Rose Bowl-sized laser facility at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in Livermore, California.  We have urged that the plutonium experiments not move forward until environmental and non-proliferation concerns are addressed by the Department of Energy (DOE), which oversees the facility.  These include the risks for worker or public exposure to radioactive material, the likelihood that these experiments may undermine the moratorium on nuclear testing, and the implications of contaminating the facility with plutonium for the potential to use the NIF for non-weapons research in the future.  Our letters to the agency are here.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Lolita The Orca Whale To Be Added To The Endangered Species List

Two years after petitioning the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to list Lolita the Orca whale as an endangered species, on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Orca Network, and others, we are happy to announce that NMFS has agreed to add her to the list, thus protecting her under the Endangered Species Act, the nation’s strongest wildlife conservation law.  Our listing petition can be found here, NMFS’ announcement can be found here, and the Federal Register Notice is to be issued on February 6, 2015.  This means that Lolita is officially a member of an “endangered species” who may no longer be “taken” – i.e., “harmed,” “harassed” or otherwise injured by the Seaquarium, a Miami aquarium, where she has been maintained and forced to perform tricks for the public for the last forty years after being taken from the wild.  Lolita’s wild family – the Southern resident killer whale population – was listed as endangered in 2005 as a “distinct population segment.”  However, in the final listing rule, with no explanation, NMFS excluded Lolita – the only remaining member of this population who lives in captivity.   Because Lolita is a member of the listed entity and genetically valuable to its conservation, we petitioned to have her included in the listing.  NMFS’ decision to include Lolita in the endangered listing is an important step to having her finally returned to her wild family.  We are also currently representing the organizations and individuals in a lawsuit against the United States Department of Agriculture for renewing the Seaquarium’s Animal Welfare Act (AWA) license each year when the facility is keeping Lolita in conditions that violate several AWA standards.  The first round of that litigation is scheduled for oral argument in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals next month.