MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – Following in the footsteps of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission has now classified the rare Miami blue butterfly as "endangered".
The commission had previously listed it as threatened. The commission changed the butterfly's status under new rules designed to eliminate confusion in the listing of state and federal endangered and threatened species.
The small Miami blue is a coastal, non-migratory butterfly. Populations once extended from the Dry Tortugas north along the Florida coasts to about St. Petersburg and Daytona. But a loss of habitat from urban sprawl, pesticides, changes in sea levels and predatory iguanas decimated their numbers.
It was believed they were extinct after Hurricane Andrew in 1992, but a small population was discovered in Bahia Honda State Park in 1999. Conservationists said that population has disappeared and the species only survives now in the Key West National Wildlife Refuge.
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