Fish and Wildlife Service lists subspecies of silverspot butterfly under Endangered Species Act

The silverspot butterfly isn't in immediate danger of extinction, but rather science indicates that it will likely be endangered in the near future.

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Image Credit: Robb Hannawacker

The final rule will give protections under the Endangered Species Act to a subspecies of the silverspot butterfly. With an accompanied 4(d) rule, the final rule will tailor protections while balancing conservation with existing land management activities because the silverspot butterfly isn’t in immediate danger of extinction, but rather science indicates that it will likely be endangered in the near future.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s announcement of the final rule comes after a public comment period and a peer-reviewed Species Status Assessment (SSA).

“While the silverspot butterfly is not in immediate danger of extinction, the best available scientific information indicates that it is likely in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future,” federal officials said.

The subspecies in particular receiving protections under the Endangered Species Act has ten populations across southwestern Colorado, eastern Utah, and northern New Mexico. The population elevations range from 5,200 to 8,300 feet. The butterfly has up to a 3-inch wingspan and is known for its “distinctive silvery-white spots on the underside of their wings,” a press release said.

Some of the threats facing the silverspot butterfly as determined from the peer-reviewed SSA include, “climate change in combination with habitat loss and fragmentation, incompatible livestock grazing, human alteration of natural hydrology, and genetic isolation,” the report highlighted.

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