Groups sue to protect butterfly

Local government briefs

November 2006

SEATTLE — Environmental groups have filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court seeking protection for the island marble butterfly, found on San Juan Island.

Members of The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, the Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the San Juans say it’s believed that fewer than 200 of the green-and-white butterflies are left.

All the butterflies are believed to live within the grounds of American Camp, part of a national historic park on San Juan Island.

The groups initially filed a petition in December 2002 seeking protection for the butterflies under the Endangered Species Act, but members said the government failed to act on the petition.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Seattle.

The island marble butterfly had not been seen for 90 years when it was rediscovered at American Camp in 1998. Its disappearance was largely blamed on grazing sheep, which destroyed plants needed for the survival of the butterfly.