Rare Washington Butterfly May Be Protected

February 13, 2006
Associated Press in:
Tacoma WA News Tribune; KOMO Channel 4 News for Seattle, Tacoma and the Pacific Northwest; KGW Channel 8 News Portland
By  KOMO Staff & News Services

SEATTLE – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that a rare species of butterfly may warrant Endangered Species Act protection.

The decision, announced Monday, comes after a petition was filed by the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the San Juans and Northwest Ecosystem Alliance.

Scientists believed the Island Marble Butterfly had gone extinct until it was discovered on San Juan Island in 1998.

Last year, state and federal wildlife staff, the Xerces Society and local volunteers conducted 225 surveys at more than 100 potential Island Marble sites. They found 11 new locations, though none of the sites had more than five butterflies. Most were found at American Camp, a national historic park.

The groups that filed the petition said herbicides pose the greatest threat to the butterfly. They said American Camp staff sprayed herbicides on five acres within the park as part of a prairie-restoration project last summer.

According to the conservation groups, the Fish and Wildlife Service has until November to decide whether the Island Marble Butterfly deserves special protection.