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Trader Joe's Stops Buying Mexican Shrimp After Pressure to Protect Vaquita

Conservation organizations announced Wednesday that Trader Joe's has declared it will stop buying shrimp from Mexico. The popular grocery store chain's decision follows pressure from organizations behind the Boycott Mexican Shrimp campaign, launched earlier this year to save the vaquita, the world's smallest porpoise, from decades of decline due to entanglement in shrimp fishing gear.

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Thomas A. Jefferson

Mexico Launches 'Risky' Vaquita Roundup to Prevent Extinction of Tiny Porpoise

Wildlife officials in Mexico next week will attempt to capture and protect some of the last vaquita on Earth in a desperate effort to save these small porpoises from extinction. The operation in the Gulf of California, scheduled to begin Oct. 12, will use trained U.S. Navy dolphins to locate vaquita, whose numbers have dwindled by 90 percent in the past five years. Fewer than 30 remain alive today.

"We support this last-ditch effort to save the vaquita from extinction, but it shouldn't be used as an excuse to allow fishing to continue in its habitat," said Alex Olivera, the Center for Biological Diversity's Mexico representative. "These beautiful animals deserve to live free in the Gulf of California, but that will never happen until the Mexican government eliminates the illegal gillnet fishing that has driven these porpoises to the very brink of extinction."

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Monarch butterfly. St. Louis Zoo/Christopher Carter

House Republicans Advance Five Bills to Cripple Endangered Species Act

In party-line votes, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources, led by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), advanced five bills today that would hamstring the Endangered Species Act and condemn hundreds of species to extinction. The legislation can now move to the full House floor for further consideration.

In December, Rep. Bishop stated that his goal was to repeal the act in its entirety. These bills represent the foundation of this longstanding goal.

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Senate Bill Aims to Strip Protections From 1,098 Endangered Species Including Utah Prairie Dog, Florida Panther

Republican U.S. Senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee of Utah introduced legislation this week that would strip federal Endangered Species Act protections for animals and plants found in only one state. Known as intrastate species, such imperiled animals and plants make up the majority of the 1,655 species protected under the act.

The legislation is backed by extreme anti-wildlife organizations that oppose the protection of the Utah prairie dog, an animal only found in Utah. In addition to ending protections for the prairie dog, the legislation would terminate protections for all 1,098 intrastate species, including 497 species in Hawaii, 234 species in California, 86 species in Florida and 20 species in Utah.

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House, Senate Committees Attack Environmental Laws Using Wildfires as Pretext

Two congressional committees will hold coordinated hearings Wednesday to push partisan legislation designed to weaken environmental laws on public lands.

The House Natural Resources Committee will use the pretext of "catastrophic" wildfires to build support for legislation by Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) that would curtail protections for endangered species and limit science-based review of environmental harms to expedite logging projects.

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Greater Sage Grouse. Bureau of Land Management

Massive Fracking Plan Near Yellowstone National Park Threatens Wildlife, Air Quality, Climate

The Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club lodged formal comments with the federal government Monday opposing a massive gas fracking project that spans 220 square miles of public land in Wyoming south of Yellowstone National Park.

The Normally Pressured Lance gas field would destroy wildlife habitat and worsen ozone pollution, a major cause of childhood asthma, in areas already suffering from extreme air pollution.

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Energy

Trump Green Lights Arctic Drilling Project in Polar Bear Habitat

The Trump administration released an environmental review Thursday of Hilcorp Alaska's Arctic offshore drilling development. Hilcorp plans to build a 9-acre artificial island and 5.6-mile pipeline in the Beaufort Sea for its offshore drilling project. The Trump administration's draft environmental impact statement proposes to greenlight the dangerous drilling plan, which would be a first for federal waters in the Arctic.

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U.S. Geological Survey

Loss of Arctic Sea Ice Causes Earliest Pacific Walrus Haul Out Ever

Hundreds of Pacific walruses have hauled out of Arctic waters near Alaska's Point Lay due to declining sea ice levels, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Wednesday. It's the earliest haul out the agency has ever seen, and scientists fear a repeat of stampedes that have killed hundreds of walruses in recent years.

Loss of sea ice from climate change is a major reason why the Center for Biological Diversity has petitioned the federal government to protect Pacific walruses under the Endangered Species Act. A final listing decision from Fish and Wildlife is expected within the next month.

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Hine's Emerald Dragonfly. Missouri Department of Conservation

Escalating Use of Pesticides Harms Already Imperiled Aquatic Invertebrates

A new analysis published this month by U.S. Geological Survey scientists found pesticides at high enough concentrations to harm already imperiled aquatic invertebrates in more than half of 100 streams studied in the Midwest and Great Plains. The pesticide levels threaten species like the Hine's emerald dragonfly and the sheepnose mussel.

The U.S. Geological Survey study, published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, found an average of 54 pesticides in each stream in both agricultural and urban areas, spotlighting the ever-broadening contamination of waterways caused by the nation's escalating use of pesticides.

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