Action Demanded for Rediscovered Butterfly

     PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) – The island marble butterfly, once thought to be extinct, has been rediscovered, but Uncle Sam refuses to protect it, a conservation society claims in Federal Court.
     The island marble butterfly was presumed extinct for nearly 100 years, until it was rediscovered by a zoologist in 1998.
     Since then, “extensive searches have documented its presence at 52 sites on only two small islands (San Juan and Lopez Islands) in the San Juan Archipelago in northwest Washington. Over the past decade, this butterfly has likely been extirpated from 44 of the 52 sites where it was known to exist. At several of the key sites where it still exists, the abundance of the island marble butterfly has declined by 70 percent. The population is estimated to include only 200-400 individuals.”
     The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation sued the Secretary of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in Federal Court.
     The society claims the defendants illegally refused to process its petition to put the critically endangered butterfly on the endangered species list.
     The Xerces Society is named for an extinct butterfly, the Xerces Blue, which was last seen near the Golden Gate Bridge in 1941 or 1943.
     The island marble butterfly (Euchloe ausonides insulanus) is creamy white with green marbling under its wings.
     The Xerces Society submitted a petition for protection on Aug. 22, 2012.
     “As of May 16, 2013, the island marble was not listed in the FWS’s Fiscal Years 2013-2018 Endangered Species Act Listing Workplan,” the complaint states. “Plaintiff is not aware that defendants have established any schedule for the processing of their petition to list the island marble butterfly as an endangered species. Plaintiff therefore has reason to believe that defendants contend that they have discretion to postpone indefinitely, or at least for many years, responding to plaintiff’s petition. This is so despite the fact that the island marble butterfly is in imminent danger of extinction.
     “FWS’s failure to make a finding on Xerces’ petition to list the island marble butterfly as endangered in the manner required by 16 U.S.C. § 1533(b)(3)(A) violates the
     Endangered Species Act and is unlawful.”
     The society asks the court to order the defendants to protect the butterfly by a date certain.
     The nonprofit Xerces Society seeks to protect invertebrates, such as insects and crustaceans, that “are often imperiled by human activity and rarely accounted for in mainstream conservation,” according to its website.
     It is represented by Christopher Winter with the Crag Law Center in Portland.

%d bloggers like this: