Photo Credit: PHOTO BY ROBERT MICHAEL PYLE, COURTESY OF XERCES SOCIETY  - The island marble butterfly, one of the rarest of all butterflies in the U.S., may get protection under the Endangered Species Act. The island marble butterfly may get protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, thanks to a new settlement agreement between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

The Xerces Society, based in Portland, has been working for years to study and protect the green and white butterfly, one of the rarest species in the U.S. It has already vanished from Canada and now is only found on San Juan and Lopez islands in Washington state.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a 90-day finding that the island marble butterfly may warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act. A broader 12-month review will follow.

The Xerces Society has concluded that the butterfly is in imminent danger of extinction.

But when the Xerces Society and its partners first petitioned for federal protection of the butterfly, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a negative finding in 2006.

A decade of survey work has found that the island marble continues to lose habitat each year, according to Xerces, and most sites where the species had been tracked no longer support it. As of 2011, the island marble was found at six of 12 previously occupied sites within San Juan Island National Historic Park, and only two of 40 previously occupied sites outside the park.

“We are happy that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has taken this positive step toward protection of this butterfly,” said Scott Hoffman Black, executive director of the Xerces Society. “After years of delay, the service must move quickly to complete a 12-month status review and ensure that the butterfly gets the protection it deserves.”

Steve Law can be reached at 503-546-5139 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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