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Mount Charleston Blue Butterfly on endangered list

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Updated: 9/19/2013 11:31 pm
LAS VEGAS(KSNV & MyNews3) -- It’s at risk of extinction and now makes the endangered species list.

The Mount Charleston Blue Butterfly is the newest Nevada native identified as facing serious threats.

News 3’s Jen Wahl looks at protection plans for one of the state’s rarest species.

Bruce Boyd has been tracking the elusive Mount Charleston Blue Butterfly since the mid-90s.

“Very rarely see it outside of these habitat patches,” Boyd said.

The Spring Mountains are the only known place in the world the Blue calls home.

“They stay close to the ground, even in their flight,” Boyd said.

On Wednesday he U.S. Fish and Wildlife service announced the federal protection of the species.

Ecologist Rob Mrowka is part of a watchdog group for the blue.

“We’re here to speak for the butterfly. The butterfly doesn’t have a voice in human decisions but it has groups like the center for biological diversity to speak for it and that’s what we’re going to be doing,” Mrowka said.

The U.S. Forest Service built this fence to help protect the habitat the Mount Charleston Blue Butterfly depends on.

But even with preventative measures already in place. U.S. Fish and Wildlife says the butterfly population has been dropping since 1995.

“We need to have the forest treated in such a way that the needs of the butterfly are considered first,” Mrowka said.

Only a handful of the butterflies have been seen in the last few years.

Mrowka and Boyd attribute the decline in part to the Carpenter One Fire, wild horses squashing butterfly habitat, and wildfire reduction operations.

“So we need to get the ecologists into the planning on the front end so what we do is first of all beneficial to the butterfly and at the same time going to accomplish the other objectives,” Mrowka said.

Now Fish and wildlife wants to create critical habitats to help the butterflies rebound.

“it’s unique and it needs protection,” Boyd said.

-- Jen Wahl, KSNV News 3
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