Fold mountains

Sacramento Mountain Checkerboard Butterfly Should Be Endangered, Says USFWS

A rare species of butterfly in New Mexico is now threatened with extinction and needs urgent protection, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), which said the animals should be considered an endangered species. disappearance.

The USFWS officially published its decision in a report on Tuesdayclaiming that the authority now deemed it necessary to add the checkerboard butterfly of the Sacramento Mountains to the Endangered Species Act (1973.)

The law considers endangered any animal threatened with extinction in all or a significant part of its range.

The FWS proposal indicates that the species now only exists in two surviving populations, isolated from each other, in very low numbers.

The submission also described the threats faced by the butterflies. Overgrazing by ungulates such as elk and horses, climate change, changes to the wildfire management program, and recreation by humans have all been cited as threats to the species.

Image of a checkerboard butterfly. The Sacramento Mountain checkerboard butterfly is now considered endangered.
Miscellaneous Photographs/Getty Images

Conservationists have previously lobbied the USFWS to protect the butterflies.

The nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity submitted a petition in 1999 to have the species listed as endangered.

The USFWS also proposed listing the species as endangered in 2001, but later rescinded the request in 2004, saying the talks had been exaggerated. Another application was submitted in 2008 and the following year the organization concluded that endangered status was not warranted.

Since then, worsening habitat conditions for the butterflies have seen their situation deteriorate, and the USFWS now believes they are at risk of extinction.

“I am relieved that after more than two decades of advocacy, the Sacramento Mountain Checkerboard Butterfly has finally received protection, but sad that it has been allowed to decline so severely that only eight butterflies could be found during the latest investigation,” Noah Greenwald, director of endangered species at the Center for Biological Diversity, said Newsweek.

“The FWS frequently denies the protection of clearly threatened species in the face of opposition, including the butterfly twice in the last 20 years. We need to protect the natural world more to save this butterfly and so many other species.”

In a statement, Greenwald said the numbers had dropped as a result of political decisions. “I hope that doesn’t happen, but this butterfly could become the first species to go extinct due to long-standing wrongdoing and malfunctioning at the Fish and Wildlife Service,” he said in the statement. “Decisions regarding the protection of species like the Sacramento Mountain Checkerboard Butterfly are matters of life and death that should not be subject to political whims.”

The Sacramento Mountains in New Mexico where the butterflies live is an isolated mountain range in the southern part of the state, largely within the Mescalero Reservation.

The Mescalero are an Apache tribe named for their affinity with the mescal plant found in the region.