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Tuesday, July 16, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Northwest Lark and Butterfly to Be Protected

WASHINGTON (CN) - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to list the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly as an endangered species, and the streaked horned lark as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

The species are from the U.S. Pacific Northwest, with the butterfly also being found in British Columbia, Canada, according to the announcement.

The Center for Biological Diversity, a petitioner for protecting the butterfly and lark describes the streaked horned lark as "a small, ground-dwelling songbird with conspicuous feather tufts, or 'horns,' on its head. Its back is heavily streaked with black, contrasting sharply with its deeply ruddy nape and yellow underparts."

The lark had been "a common nesting species in grasslands and prairies west of the Cascade Mountains from southern British Columbia through Washington and Oregon," but with 98 percent of native grasslands on the West Coast destroyed, however, the population has plummeted, according to the environmental group's press release on the announcement.

The small brightly colored and checked butterfly is dependent on areas that are grassy, otherwise low, or "bald," that also support particular plants, such as a plaintain relative, for the larval stage, according to the agency announcement.

The USFWS identified both of the species as candidates for listing in 2001 with a listing priority number of 6, which reflects threats of a high magnitude that are not considered imminent, according to its announcement.

Despite the candidate listings, in 2002, the Xerces Society, Center for Biological Diversity, Oregon Natural Resources Council, Friends of the San Juans, and Northwest Ecosystem Alliance sent the USFWS a petition to list the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly as endangered, and the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the San Juans, Oregon Natural Resources Council, and Northwest Ecosystem Alliance petitioned to list the streaked horned lark as endangered.

"The decision is part of a major settlement made with the Center for Biological Diversity last year requiring Fish and Wildlife to speed protection decisions for 757 species across the country," according to the CBD's press release.

The agency also proposed to designate 6,875 acres of protected critical habitat for the butterfly and 12,159 acres for the bird in Washington and Oregon, including for the lark at the Olympia, Portland, Salem and other municipal airports in the region, the CBD pointed out.

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