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KARNER BLUE BUTTERFLY PROPOSED AS ENDANGERED SPECIES

 KARNER BLUE BUTTERFLY PROPOSED AS ENDANGERED SPECIES
 TWIN CITIES, Minn., Jan. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Fish and


Wildlife Service announced today that it has published a proposal to place the Karner blue butterfly on the federal list of endangered species until the species can once again sustain itself in the wild.
 The Karner blue butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) is a small iridescent-blue butterfly with a wingspan of about one inch. It has been known for more than a century, ever since W.H. Edwards first described the insect in 1861 in Karner, N.Y.
 Historically found extensively in 10 states and Ontario, the butterfly's range is now restricted to isolated localities in New Hampshire, New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and Minnesota. The largest occurrence, located north of the Albany Pine Bush in New York, was estimated at 14,000 in 1990 and may account for more than half of the Karner blue butterflies known to exist. One of the smallest populations, estimated at between 250-400 individuals in 1990, is located at two small sites in the pine barrens of Concord, N.H., the only area in New England where the butterfly is now found.
 Destruction and change of its habitat for timber production and urbanization are primary threats to the survival of this butterfly. Its required habitat, consisting of pine barrens and oak savannahs heavily populated by lupine plants, has traditionally been maintained by wildfire or mowing. Without fire or similar maintenance, many areas once dotted with openings and wild lupine are now dominated by forest or have been developed.
 Biologists believe that the Karner blue butterfly once occurred as shifting clusters of populations across thousands of acres of fire- maintained habitat in parts of the Midwest, New England and Canada. Over the past 100 years, the number of Karner blue butterflies has declined precipitously -- by as much as 99 percent -- primarily due to habitat loss with more than 90 percent taking place in the last 10 to 15 years.
 Comments are invited on the proposed rule to list the Karner blue butterfly and should be submitted by March 20, 1992, to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 100 Grange Place, Room 202, Cortland, N.Y. 13045 (607-753-9334). Requests for a public hearing must be submitted in writing to the same address by March 5, 1992. Comments and materials received will be available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the Cortland address.
 -0- 1/22/92
 /CONTACT: Susan Dreiband, 612-725-3519, or Craig Johnson, 612-725-3276, both of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/ CO: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ST: Minnesota IN: SU:


AL -- MN014 -- 2445 01/22/92 16:01 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jan 22, 1992
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