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Comments taken on proposed ESA listing

Herald and News 8/19/11

The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service has launched a review of Leona’s little blue butterfly — found in only in Antelope Desert, east of Crater Lake National Park — to determine if it should be protected as a threatened or endangered species.

According to Federal Register filing, the agency has designated the butterfly’s habitat as critical, and has started a status review that could ultimately protect the species the under the Endangered Species Act.

If the butterfly is listed, its habitat would be protected and federal agencies would take habitat restoration measures to bolster the population.

As part of the review, the agency is accepting public comments until Oct. 17 on whether the listing is warranted. To file a comment, go online to www.regulations.gov   and enter identification number FWS –R8 –ES – 2011–0055.

In May 2010, environmental groups Xerces Society and Oregon Wild, along with David McCorkle of Western Oregon University, filed a petition to have the butterfly listed as endangered, citing dwindling habitat from agriculture and timber.

The butterfly was discovered in 1995 and exists in a 6-square-mile area, mostly in the Mazama Tree Farm and partly in the Fremont-Winema National Forest. It finds nectar in spurry buckwheat and sulphur buckwheat, but only uses spurry buckwheat as a larval host plant.

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