Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Free Furry Vengeance Screening this Thursday!

If you're in DC (or will be on Thursday), please join us for a special screening of the new movie Furry Vengeance at Gallery Place in Chinatown!

Furry Vengeance is a live action family comedy in which an ambitious young real estate developer, Dan Sanders, faces off with a band of angry animals when his new housing subdivision pushes too far into a pristine part of the wilderness. Led by an incredibly clever raccoon, the animals stymie the development and teach our hero about the environmental consequences of man's encroachment on nature.

Thank you to Summit Entertainment and Participant Media for hosting the free screening.

Check out the Furry Vengeance trailer.

The Furry Vengeance activity guide focuses on the importance of protecting endangered species and habitat. A customized package including activities and materials, distributed to elementary students nationwide, that will engage and educate future environmentalists.

Check out the Furry Vengeance Activity Guide here.

Join us in this sneak preview before the movie opens in theaters! Tickets are FREE. Bring your family and friends.

RSVP here for the Furry Vengeance Free Movie Screening!

Monday, April 26, 2010

40th Anniversary Earth Day Whale and Climate Rally

This Earth Day, I and 6 of my closest cetacean friends took the train to the National Mall and marched to the White House to raise awareness of the IWC proposal to end the 24 year strong ban on commercial whaling.

Endangered Species Coalition Members Greenpeace, the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Earth Day Network organized an Earth Day Rally on the Mall to protect whales and demonstrate our unified opposition to the proposed deal to end the ban on commercial whaling.

The proposal, unveiled on Earth Day, would end the ban on commercial whaling that has been in place since 1986. In a recently released statement,New Zealand's Foreign Minister has described it's provisions as "offensive," "unacceptable," "inflammatory" and "not a basis for negotiations."

The proposal will be voted on at the June meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Agadir, Morocco. If passed, it would legitimize commercial whaling by suspending the moratorium in exchange for loosely enforced quotas based on recent catch data, not sound science. The proposal would leave enforcement of these quotas to individual nations, exposing it to great potential for fraud and mismanagement. It would give Japan license to kill whales in the Southern Whale Sanctuary in addition to it's coastal waters, putting sensitive whale populations and non target species at great risk.

President Obama was unequivocal about this issue while campaigning for his office. He said in a reply to a Greenpeace questionnaire that "“As president, I will ensure that the U.S. provides leadership in enforcing international wildlife protection agreements, including strengthening the international moratorium on commercial whaling. Allowing Japan to continue commercial whaling is unacceptable" We need to hold him to that pledge.

So it is in that spirit that the humpbacks, I and several hundred others rallied on the Mall. Fred O'Regan of IFAW, Greenpeace's Phil Radford, HBO True Blood actress Kristin Bauer and others spoke at the rally in defense of whales, and later advocated on their behalf in meetings with the President and Members of Congress.

Seizing the energy from the rally, we took to the streets and marched to the White House, where President Obama was just returning from a trip to New York.

We gathered outside the White House and delivered our message on behalf of whales: Stop the sellout!

You can take action on behalf of endangered whales too! Tell President Obama that now is not the time for a compromise on commercial whaling.

To find out more about ways you can help whales, take action at our member organization's websites: IFAW
and Greenpeace.

The Earth Day festivities weren't over yet though. The main event was Sunday night to allow people who couldn't get free at noon on a Thursday to come out . The Earth Day Network organized the Climate Rally on the Mall and invited a spectacular lineup of speakers and entertainment to get the word out. The Roots, Sting, Bob Weir, John Legend, Joss Stone, Passion Pit and others took the stage in humid conditions with thunderclouds gathering and delivered a solid 8 hours of music. A strong contingent of speakers including EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Congressman Ed Markey, Trudie Styler, NASA's Dr. James Hansen, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Green For All's Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins and filmmaker James Cameron rallied the 100,000+ in attendance to carry the movement forward and pressure the Senate to pass a strong climate bill.

If you weren't able to make it to D.C., you can still make a difference and make your voice heard. Take action through the links above and be part of our own Earth Day Action on behalf of endangered species by asking your Senator to support a strong climate bill the includes adequate protections for wildlife in a warming world.

Friday, April 16, 2010

ESD Art Contest Semifinalists Announced!

The 2010 Endangered Species Day Art Contest semifinalists have been chosen! This nationwide contest is organized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Endangered Species Coalition, Association of Zoos and Aquariums and Ogden Museum of Southern Art/University of New Orleans. It gives students, grades K-12, an opportunity to learn about and promote the conservation of endangered species through art.

From the thousands of students who created and submitted artwork of an endangered species, ten students were selected in four age categories for their artistic merit portraying an endangered species.

The artwork can be viewed here. The semifinalists are:

Grades K-2
Piping Plover, Madeline Green, Kenmore, NY

California Spotted Owl, Hailey Alvord, Upland, CA

Bald Eagle, Sophia Rojas Tucson, AZ

Ivory Billed Woodpecker, Matt Sherman, Jonesboro, AR

Sandhill Crane, Reid Pierce, Bay St Louis, MS

Wolf, Joshua Mildon El Paso, TX

Clemmys Guttata Spotted Turtle, Tracey Du, Fremont, CA

Florida Key Deer, Kendra Dwyer, San Francisco, CA

Gray Wolf, Ella Radnothy Tucson, AZ

Polar Bear & Beluga Whale, Carter Schroeder Anchorage, AK

Grades 3-6
LA Brown Pelican, Audrey Arrasmith, Port Allen, LA

Green Sea Turtle, Sarah Flotlin, Olympia, WA

San Joaquin Kit Fox, Bethany Fullerton, San Diego, CA

Sonoran Tiger Salamander, Tino Watson, Tucson, AZ
San Francisco Garter Snake, Rowena Bush, Murrieta, GA
Giant Kangaroo Rat, Briana Marler, Columbia, SC
Catalina Fox, Christina Woo, Hacienda Heights, CA
Giant Kangaroo Rat, Mia Baum, Los Angleles, CA
Black-footed Ferret, Hannah Murphy, Tucson, AZ
Borderland Jaguar, Josie Maxwell, Tucson, AZ

Grades 7-9
Mexican Wolf, Elexus Hargis, Austin, TX
Gray Wolf, Caitlin Miller, Port Allen, LA
West Indian Manatee, Maggi Mosco, Cleveland, MS
Moose, Olive Dwan, Petoskey, MI
Swallow-tailed Kite, Sunnia Ye, Portland, OR
Mountain Yellow Legged Frog, Lorena Carrera, Los Angeles, CA
Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Sidney Rich, Quitman, LA
Brown Pelican, Samson Batiste, Jennings, LA
San Joaquin Kit Fox, Laura Allen, El Cajon, CA
Peninsular Bighorn Sheep & California Condor, Jiwon Lee, Glendora, CA

Grades 10-12
Polar Bear, Alessandra Acierno, Charleston, SC
Mexican Gray Wolf, Taylor Ayotte, Narragansett, RI
Florida Panther, Allison Backus, Lakeview, AR
Northern Spotted Owl, Samantha Arnold, San Diego, CA
Riparian Brush Rabbit, Kaori Joel, San Diego, CA
Fairy Shrimp, Katherine Shimei, San Diego, CA
Gray Wolf & Kirtland's Warbler, Nicole Holder, Elkhorn, WI
Humpback Whale, Ethan W. Richtsmeier, Laguna Niguel, CA
Island Fox, Courtney Hedgecock, San Diego, CA
Northern Spotted Owl & Island Fox, Sarah Favreau, Carlsbad, CA

The semifinalists were chosen by the Ogden Museum of Southern Art at the University of New Orleans from May 13 to June 4, 2010. The artwork will be displayed in an exhibit at the museum. Semifinalists will also receive a certificate and a wildlife book from Sylvan Dell Publishing.

The winners in each age category will be chosen by a prestigious panel of artists, photographers, actors, scientists and conservationists including Jeff Corwin, host of Animal Planet’s Jeff Corwin Experience; and Jack Hanna, host of Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild. Age category winners will receive an award and a screening of the movie Furry Vengeance at their school. One national winner will be honored at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Congressional Reception in Washington, DC on May, 4, 2010 and have their name engraved on a special trophy designed and created by a gifted young artist, Meredith Graf of New Orleans, LA.

Started in 2006 by the United States Congress, Endangered Species Day is a celebration of our nation’s imperiled plants and wildlife and wild places. The art contest is an integral part of the fifth annual national Endangered Species Day, May 21, 2010.

For more information about the art contest, winners or judges, please visit

Monday, April 12, 2010

More Changes Needed to Protect Loggerheads

This post is a guest post by Caribbean Conservation Corporation. It is a part of our occasional series by Endangered Species Coalition Member Organizations.

David Godfrey
Executive Director
Caribbean Conservation Corporation

Caribbean Conservation Corporation (CCC), the world's oldest sea turtle research and protection group, applauded an announcement in March by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries Service to designate Northwest Atlantic loggerhead turtles as Endangered. This proposed change in status from Threatened to Endangered recognizes the plight of rapidly declining American loggerheads, which nest on beaches from North Carolina to Texas and until 1998 were an Endangered Species Act success story. Florida accounts for over 90% of loggerhead nesting in the United States. Protection provided by the Endangered Species Act and implementation of regulations requiring Turtle Excluder Devices in shrimp nets to prevent the drowning of entrapped turtles contributed to encouraging nesting increases from 1986 to 1998. Since that time, however, nesting throughout Florida has declined by over 40%. Nesting populations also are declining in the other states for which long-term information is available.

Loggerheads face numerous threats onshore where they nest and at sea, but accidental capture, injury and death in commercial fisheries is perhaps the greatest peril to their survival today. CCC and other conservation groups repeatedly have sounded the alarm about declining numbers of loggerheads. In January, concern about the species was elevated when loggerheads were ominously absent among sea turtles rescued from record cold waters in Florida. Over 4,000 juvenile sea turtles were affected by prolonged freezing temperatures. Unlike previous cold-stun events, when a near even mix of green turtles and loggerheads were impacted, almost all of the turtles found this year were green turtles. The absence of loggerheads among the massive number of turtles rescued raises concerns that juvenile loggerheads, as well as nesting adults, are in decline.

The Services propose to list seven distinct loggerhead populations as Endangered, including those in the Mediterranean Sea, North Indian Ocean, North Pacific, Northeast Atlantic, Northwest Atlantic, South Pacific and Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean. Because it is the world's second largest remaining assemblage of loggerheads, however, saving Northwest Atlantic loggerheads is critical to the global survival of this species.

The CCC and other conservation groups agree that this proposal to provide greater protection to loggerhead turtles is long overdue.

Loggerheads spend many years in the open ocean before settling into near-shore habitats; the varied loggerhead diet of soft invertebrates and hard-shelled animals puts the species more at risk from fisheries than any other species of sea turtle. Overwhelming evidence points to accidental capture in fishing lines, hooks, nets and dredges as the main culprit in these declines. International fleets capture, injure and kill tens of thousands of loggerheads on the high seas every year. In U.S. waters, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has allowed our fisheries to kill thousands of large and small loggerheads rather than adequately regulate fishing.

Much of what has been accomplished over the last three decades for this species could be lost if NMFS does not implement serious fisheries policy changes soon. From its base in Florida, CCC has worked for decades to protect loggerheads and the habitats on which they depend. The organization has championed the protection of critical nesting sites and promoted sensible coastal development policies to ensure sea turtles and people can coexist on Florida's beaches. The State of Florida, through its Marine Turtle Protection Act, and many coastal governments have enacted strong laws and regulations to protect sea turtles. And a strong network of volunteer turtle groups around Florida and in most states where turtles nest have been working for years to monitor and protect this species. Despite these combined efforts, loggerheads are slipping closer toward extinction. Clearly, much more needs to be done to protect loggerhead sea turtles in Florida, the United States, and throughout the world.

CCC believes that despite the proposed new endangered status for this species, loggerheads can still be saved if U.S. efforts are appropriately focused. For starters, the National Marine Fisheries Service should take immediate steps to loggerhead capture in fisheries.

CCC advocates year-round area restrictions for the reef fish bottom longline fishery in the Gulf of Mexico and long-awaited requirements for Turtle Excluder Devices in U.S. trawl net fisheries. In addition, local and state governments must adopt comprehensive changes in coastal management policies to ensure adequate protection of nesting beaches.

CCC will use all means at its disposal to reverse the decline of the loggerhead, which more than any other species is America's flagship sea turtle species. The organization's 50-year-long green turtle recovery program in Costa Rica has helped bring about a 500% increase in nesting of this species. We know how to achieve the same results for loggerheads, if the U.S. and other governments have the will. For more information about loggerhead turtles and efforts to protect them, visit

Friday, April 9, 2010

Louisiana honors creator of Endangered Species Day Art Contest Award

Meredith Graf, a ninth-grader at the Louise S. McGehee School in New Orleans, is being honored for creating the first place award for the annual Endangered Species Day Art Contest. The Louisiana State Legislature issued House Resolution No. 6 sponsored by Rep. Kirk Talbot, to “commend Meredith Graf for her outstanding achievements as a young Louisiana artist.”

“I am proud to be able to support Meredith and her work to protect the environment,” said Rep. Kirk Talbot. “It is wonderful to see someone so young with the talent, passion and dedication that she has.”

Last month, Jefferson Parish declared March 3rd Meredith Graf Day, “to recognize and honor Meredith Graf for her extraordinary talents and contributions to the artistic quality of life in Jefferson Parish and the State of Louisiana by naming a day in her honor.” In addition, the New Orleans City Council has issued a proclamation recognizing her for her work.

“I am so excited and deeply honored to have been chosen to create the award for the Endangered Species Day Art Contest,” Ms. Graf said. “America’s wildlife and wild places are a treasure that must be preserved for my generation and generations to come.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Endangered Species Coalition, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art/ University of New Orleans are organizing the art contest which is open to students in the U.S. and celebrates the extraordinary wildlife and wild places of the United States.

“Since this is a contest highlighting the work of students, we wanted the grand prize trophy to be done by a gifted student-artist,” said Leda Huta, Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition. "Meredith easily fits that bill. She is an exceptional artist, who works in a variety of media. And, we are proud to have her represent the ideals of preservation and conservation that are at the heart of the contest.”

Ms. Graf is an extraordinarily talented artist and has been honored many times. In 2004, she won first place in the Louisiana Junior Duck Stamp competition in the fourth through sixth grade division. She also painted an oil-on-canvas depiction of the Louisiana flag with then Representative Bobby Jindal’s name, title, and the parishes he represents. Rep. Jindal visited her school to accept the painting. To acknowledge his help to New Orleans after Katrina, Ms. Graf created a drawing of President George W. Bush’s hands. He wrote her a personal letter thanking her for her “thoughtfulness and creativity.” She has been invited to the White House in honor of her artwork.

The award will be an eagle sculpture, with donated crystal, redwood, marble and granite. The winner’s name will be engraved on the trophy’s base, which will be displayed in Washington, DC. The contest’s winning artwork will be displayed at an exhibition at the Ogden Museum/ University of New Orleans in May, 2010.

To learn more about Endangered Species Day and the art contest, visit

Thursday, April 1, 2010

US to Study Ways to Save Species in a Warming World

By Mitch Merry
Coalition Member Organizer
Endangered Species Coalition

The U.S. Geological Service (USGS) announced this week that they would undertake a series of studies to examine the effects climate change is having and will continue to have on wildlife and their habitats. The research is to include projects in the Great Lakes, San Francisco, Alaska and Florida. This news comes roughly 6 months after USFWS announced their proposed Climate Change Strategy, focused on adaptation, threat mitigation and engagement with private and public agencies.

The research projects are to be carried out through the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center with funding provided by Congress through the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

The 17 projects include a wide variety of subjects. Region and state specific computer modeling will be used to predict habitat and species population changes based on rainfall, land cover change and Great Lakes water and temperature level. USGS scientists are tracking snowshoe hares and will use that data to determine what evolutionary changes they may incur to adapt to decreasing amounts of snow. Scientists will also study the impacts of melting Alaska glaciers on coastal ecosystems and the effects dryer conditions will have on plants and the species they support in the Southwest. They've selected five priority studies:

  • Climate Change as a Challenge to Bird Conservation in Arid and Semi-arid Regions
    This study will focus on the changes expected to wetland and riparian habitats and how that will influence the survival of migratory birds. The results will help DOI, FWS and other agencies to develop management plans to protect migratory birds and their habitats.
  • Fate of Endangered Species in San Francisco Bay Tidal Marshes with Sea Level Rise
    The USGS will evaluate tidal marsh distribution to assist USFWS in making mitigation plans for species such as the salt marsh harvest mosut and California clapper trail.
  • Impact of Stream Temperature and Flow Changes on Endangered Atlantic Salmon
    This study will measure flow and stream temperature changes in the northeast to gauge the effects climate change is having on an Atlantic-salmon habitat and population. This information will then be used to estimate salmon survival in the future and create an Atlantic Salmon population survival model.
  • Potential Influence of Changing Climate on the Persistence of Native Salmonids at Risk
    The USGS, US Forest Service, and Trout Unlimited will study how climate change will alter the freshwater habitats of important native fish species such as trout, char and grayling.
  • Quantifying the Influence of Climate Change on Rocky Mountain Ungulates
    The ecology of hoofed big-game species in the northern Rocky Mountains, known as ungulates, is strongly influenced by climate. This study will examine how changes wrought by climate change such as decreased snow pack, early spring conditions, and increased drought may effect elk, moose and pronghorn antelope. Influences on migrations routes, feed ground use and associated disease prevalence and changes to the amount of vegetation will also be measured.

These studies represent a big step, if not a giant leap, in dealing with the impacts of a warming world on species, endangered and otherwise. The information gathered, forecasts made and computer models created will be important tools to help to avoid the worst wildlife scenarios from occurring.

ESC has recently published a report titled America's Hottest Species outlining the threats faced by ten species in a warming world. Additionally, we covered the effects of climate change on several species in a recent blog series. Climate change has already led to local population loss in pika, disastrously mistimed migrations by migratory birds, and a particularly dire Presidential prognosis for the polar bear.

With depressingly little action agreed to by the world's leaders in Copenhagen last December, there needs to be a renewed focus on helping species adapt to the changes in their habitats. This illustrates the need for the US Senate to pass a strong climate bill that includes provisions for wildlife adaptation as well as a carbon cap as a means to fund them.

The President campaigned on a pledge to "implement an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050." He needs to be held to this pledge.

Yesterday's disappointing White House announcement on offshore drilling needs to be balanced by a strong climate bill. The House acted, now the Senate needs to deliver. We need to ensure the President receives a bill that includes science based emissions targets, preserves environmental protections and safeguards species. Contact your Senators today and ask them to pass the climate bill. You can send a letter to your Senator by going here and you can reach the United States Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-312