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Group Wants Rare Butterflies Protected

Audio

Aired 4/20/09

The Center for Biological Diversity says a federal agency is not protecting two rare butterflies that live in the coastal and mountain areas of San Diego County. KPBS Environment Reporter Ed Joyce says the group is suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to have the butterflies included on the Endangered Species List.

The environmental group is challenging a 2007 decision that denied protection for the butterflies.

The Hermes copper is a bright, yellow-orange spotted butterfly.

The Thorne's hairstreak has wings that range from reddish brown to mahogany with touches of lavender.

Jonathan Evans with the Center for Biological Diversity says suburban sprawl, climate change and wildfires could drive the butterflies to extinction.

"We've had wildfires in 2003 and 2007 in San Diego County that literally threaten the existence of these butterflies in San Diego County and globally," he says. "If we would have had one of those events decimate their entire habitat then we would have lost them completely for future generations."

He says the Bush administration reversed the course of its own biologists who recommended further research into protection of the butterflies under the Endangered Species Act.

Ed Joyce, KPBS News.

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