Endangered Species News Roundup

A lot happened in the last week. Here are some of the stories we don't want to let slip through the cracks.

A judge in California has ordered protective measures for the endangered and long-debated delta smelt. It's good news for the fish, but potentially bad news for California agriculture, as the order involves unprecedented levels of water controls. Expect to hear shouting over this decision for years to come.

In Japan, a video-game craze could help drive rare species of stag beetle into extinction. An arcade game called Mushiking features digital stag beetles battling to the death. This has resulted in a craze for the import of real stag beetles -- to the tune of 1 million beetles a year. Scientists fear this feeding frenzy could severely harm populations of several rarer species of stag beetle, or even drive them extinct.

Back in the U.S., the American jaguar (which we previously wrote about here) has been denied critical conservation habitat by the Fish & Wildlife Service, which says that a) the U.S. population is not critical to the survival of the species, and b) no place in the U.S. actually meets the needs for jaguar habitat. Fish & Wildlife will instead assist with jaguar conservation efforts in Mexico, where the species is healthier.

Meanwhile, a lawsuit against the National Marine Fisheries Service has been settled, which will lead to critical habitat protection for four ocean species: elkhorn coral, staghorn coral, smalltooth sawfish and green sturgeon.

Finally, in Australia, it's been just over one year since wildlife icon Steve Irwin's untimely death. Now, a turtle species he discovered (Elseya irwini) could be awarded endangered species status. Even from the grave, Irwin continues to make a difference.

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