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Harlequin Butterfly|Finally Gets ESA Review

WASHINGTON (CN) - A year after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service received a petition to list the fragile Puerto Rican harlequin butterfly as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, the agency has finished its 90-day review.

The Center for Biological Diversity filed suit against the Obama Administration, in February, insisting that the review be completed. The agency states in the rule only that, "We have been unable to respond to the petition until now."

The Fish and Wildlife service has found that the petition, filed by Javier Biaggi-Caballero, provides substantial information indicating that listing the butterfly as endangered may be warranted.

The petitioner asserts that development pressure and the construction of a residential development in the butterfly's habitat is the main threat to the species. The habitat of the species has been modified by past developments of the city of Quebradillas, reducing the butterfly habitat to a particular tract slated for development. The developments also endanger the prickly bush, the insect's only host plant.

The harlequin flies slowly, is weak, and has not been able to move out of its home environment.

The agency now begins a status review, and requests scientific and commercial data on the species. If listing is warranted, the agency will make a determination on critical habitat.

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