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Grays Harbor bird protected as endangered

October 3, 2013

A bird that calls Grays Harbor home is now officially considered endangered.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service protected the streaked horned lark and Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly yesterday under the Endangered Species Act. The agency also designated 1,941 acres of protected critical habitat for the butterfly and 4,629 acres for the lark in Washington and Oregon.

“With today’s decision, these unique prairie species have a fighting chance,” said Noah Greenwald, the Center for Biological Diversity’s endangered species director. “To save the lark and the butterfly, we need to identify the last remnants and protect them and restore other areas.”

Both of the species have suffered substantial declines and are now found only at a handful of scattered locations around the Northwest.

The streaked horned lark is a small, ground-dwelling songbird with conspicuous feather tufts, or “horns,” on its head. It breeds at only 10 sites, including Grays Harbor.

Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly is currently known from just 11 sites in British Columbia, Washington and Oregon, including sites on the Olympic Peninsula.

They join over 35 other endangered species in Washington.

From the critical habitat area proposed last year for the two species, however, the Fish and Wildlife Service cut nearly 5,000 acres for the butterfly and just over 7,500 acres for the lark. The agency also included a special rule that exempts nearly all agricultural and airport activities from the prohibitions of the Endangered Species Act.

Under the 2011 agreement with the Center, a total of 117 species have been protected, including the lark and butterfly, and another 63 have been proposed for protection.

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