Researchers will use drones to collect data about endangered butterfly habitat


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This document is provided for archival purposes only. Archived documents do not reflect current WDFW regulations or policy and may contain factual inaccuracies.

News release

Contact: Jennifer Becar, 564-669-0850

OLYMPIA – Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) staff and researchers will fly drones on private, county, and state-managed lands to assess island marble butterfly habitat on the San Juan Islands. Flights are scheduled for the week of May 22 and will take place between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Drone footage will be used to analyze different characteristics of known island marble habitat on the islands, including vegetation height and the presence of both butterfly host plants and non-native vegetation. This information will help map island marble habitat over time, contributing to conservation efforts for the species.

Flight timing will depend on suitable flight conditions; flights may be cancelled or rescheduled. All flights will be conducted in compliance with federal and state regulations. Landowners of the properties being surveyed have been contacted and have granted the Department permission to conduct flights. The only data collected will be what is relevant to the wildlife habitat surveys.

The island marble (Euchloe ausonides insulanus) is a rare species of butterfly currently found only on the south end of San Juan Island. The species was listed as federally endangered in 2020 due to habitat loss and degradation, predation, and vulnerabilities associated with small population size.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife works to preserve, protect, and perpetuate fish, wildlife, and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish and wildlife recreational and commercial opportunities.

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