Zoo, volunteers join conservation efforts for endangered butterflies

Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies have disappeared from all but 15 places

  • Apr. 12, 2016 7:00 p.m.

Participants in the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly recovery project gather to discuss conservation efforts for the species. The Greater Vancouver Zoo has taken over the captive breeding program for the butterflies which have disappeared from all but 15 locations.

Spring is definitely in the air. It’s time to think about warmer weather, trees and flowers blooming, birds chirping and, yes, butterflies.

Not all breeds of butterflies are as common as they once were.

Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly (TCB) used to be quite common in parts of British Columbia and down to Oregon.

It is an endangered species in Canada.

The eye-catching little orange and black butterflies have disappeared from all but 15 locations in the world.

Currently, the only known breeding sites for Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies in Canada are on Denman Island near Comox, and that population has dwindled in recent years.

The Greater Vancouver Zoo is part of the Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly Recovery Project and has agreed to take over the captive breeding operations, previously run by Peter Karsten at his private facility on Denman Island.

The captive rearing component has been started with help from local volunteers, seasonal staff and funding provided by Wildlife Preservation Canada.

Since the fall, the zoo in Aldergrove has established some food and plant gardens, preparing the conservation area for the arrival of the butterfly larvae early this month.

A conservation intern has also been hired to assist with the conservation project and will be focused on the butterflies all throughout the summer.

The Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly Recovery Project has been ongoing for more than 10 years and more recently the captive rearing component has started with help from local volunteers, seasonal staff and funding provided by Wildlife Preservation Canada.

Learn more about the project at goert.ca/activities/taylors-checkerspot/.

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