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Saturday, June 15, 2024

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The Supreme Court throws out a Trump-era ban on gun bump stocks; a look at how social media algorithms and Shakespearian villains have in common; and states receive federal funding to clean up legacy mine pollution.

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The Supreme Court for now protects access to abortion drug mifepristone, while Senate Republicans block a bill protecting access to in-vitro fertilization. Wisconsin's Supreme Court bans mobile voting sites, and colleges deal with funding cuts as legislatures target diversity programs.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

CA lists Mojave Desert Tortoise as endangered

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Thursday, May 9, 2024   

Groups that fight to recover endangered species are praising the California Fish and Game Commission's decision to change the Mojave Desert tortoise from threatened to endangered under state law.

One study estimates the normally long-lived species has declined quickly in recent years, losing around 155,000 adult animals from 2004 to 2014.

Jeff Aardahl, senior representative for Defenders of Wildlife in California, predicts the official state reptile is on a fast track to extinction.

"There are so few left that tortoises are going to start experiencing very difficult situations in trying to find mates," Aardahl said. "And because of that, the trend is going to keep going down until ultimately, there's no longer any tortoises left."

The biggest threats are development, military base expansion and training, livestock grazing and off-highway vehicle use. Wildlife managers have recorded dozens of animals crushed by OHVs in recent years, especially in critical habitat from Ridgecrest down to Barstow, north up to Fort Irwin and east to the state line.

California draws 2 million off-road vehicle enthusiasts each year.

Aardahl pointed out that a coalition of groups, including Defenders of Wildlife, sued in 2021 to force the Bureau of Land Management to redo its management plan and better protect the Mojave Desert Tortoise.

"There should be some closures during the spring period when most tortoises are above-ground foraging and mating," he stressed. "And then, greatly reducing the miles of routes that intersect with critical habitat."

Land managers fenced off one especially sensitive area around 1980. Since then, the Mojave Desert tortoise population there rose to be six times higher than neighboring areas that are used for off-roading.


Disclosure: Defenders of Wildlife contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Endangered Species & Wildlife, Energy Policy, Public Lands/Wilderness. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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