WASHINGTON (CN) – The Hermes copper butterfly will be the subject of year long status review by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, according to a 90 day finding issued by the agency.
The petition submitted to list the Hermes as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act contains sufficient information to warrant a full review, according to the agency.
The Hermes’ habitat is from northern San Diego south to Baja Mexico. The species suffered steep population decline in 2003 when wildfires destroyed about 35 percent of Hermes’ known habitat.
The agency had listed the species for potential protection in the early 1980s, but changes in the listing process resulted in the Hermes falling off the list. In 2004, the agency did not comment on a listing petition filed by the environmental group the Center for Biological Diversity. In 2005, the group began a lawsuit that ended in 2006 without any listing action.
In 2009, the group took the agency back to court, and as part of a settlement agreement, the agency agreed to reconsider listing the Hermes copper butterfly as either threatened or endangered.
The main threat to the Hermes has always been San Diego’s population sprawl, which was already encroaching on Hermes habitat in the late 1920s.
Currently the Center is fighting against the construction of a high-voltage transmission line called Sunrise Powerlink, through Hermes copper butterfly habitat.