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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

News Update

Air Date: Week of

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CURWOOD: Time now to update some of the news items we've been following lately.

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CURWOOD: The endangered Puerto Rican parrots we reported on earlier this spring were dealt another blow in April. An undisclosed number of the birds were stolen from a government aviary deep in the Caribbean National Forest. These parrots were captive breeding stock, which researchers used to increase the parrot population in the wild. Tom MacKenzie of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stresses the tough spot these birds are in.

MacKENZIE: It's a pretty despicable act, when someone would steal an endangered species that we're trying to recover. People have put a lot of time, a lot of effort, a lot of their personal soul into this project. And to have somebody go in and steal them is an insult to all of us.

CURWOOD: A reward of $2,500 is offered for information leading to the conviction of the thieves. Only about 50 parrots remain in the wild.

In other news from Puerto Rico, despite lawsuits and protests, the Navy has resumed bombing exercises on the island of Vieques. The federal government, meanwhile, is reviewing studies that show noise from the bombing on Vieques promotes heart disease among island residents.

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CURWOOD: A federal appeals court in West Virginia has tossed out a court order that would have limited the coal mining practice known as mountaintop removal. This process blasts the tops off hills to extract coal. The earlier court decision could have shut down this method, since it prohibited mines from burying most streams with the resulting dirt and rock. Cindy Rank of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, a litigant in the lawsuit, says residents are now bracing for another wave of large-scale strip-mining.

RANK: I think this just opens the floodgates. There is going to be an extreme amount of pressure to push through some big permits that should not be granted under these conditions. That adds an extreme amount of pressure that's going to be difficult to buck.

CURWOOD: The coal industry has declared victory on the matter and revived a permit application for what would become the largest strip mine in West Virginia history. Environmental groups in the state say mountaintop removal mining has already flattened thousands of acres of wooded hills and buried more than 700 miles of streams.

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CURWOOD: And finally, cane toads have reached Australia's Kakadu National Park in their march across the continent. In a recent Radio Expedition from Down Under, you may have heard that cane toads are an invasive species without compare. These sizeable toads eat anything that gets in their way and are poisonous to animals that try to eat them. Researchers are toiling to find some way to stop the toad menace, but most have written off Kakadu as a lost battle in the cane toad war.

And that's this week's news update from Living on Earth.

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CURWOOD: Just ahead: The ecological treasures of the Tongass National Forest. First, this environmental technology note from Jennifer Chu.

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