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News & Releases
Mountain-Prairie Region

News Release

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Evaluating the Status of Two Species

Regal Fritillary and Virgin River Spinedace Focus of In-depth Review

For Immediate Release

September, 2015


DENVER, Colo. – The regal fritillary is a beautiful butterfly with vibrant deep orange and black wings that is often mistaken for the monarch butterfly. As a caterpillar, the fritillary eats only violets. Historically, it was found from eastern Colorado to the Atlantic Ocean, and north to Canada. However, since 1980 the number of fritillaries has declined due to habitat fragmentation from development and converting the land to other uses. Today, regal fritillaries are mainly found in the grassland prairies of Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Missouri and South Dakota.

The Virgin River spinedace is a medium-sized silvery, speckled minnow found only in the Virgin River Basin found in northern Arizona, southern Nevada and Utah. The spinedace likes cool, clean waters that are in high demand by residential developments and agriculture. Meeting the needs of all water users with the available water supply is a common challenge in rivers throughout the West. Moreover, competition from non-native fish has severely shrunk spinedace numbers. In 2002, conservation partners formed the Virgin River Resource Management and Recovery Program to protect the spinedace from potential threats. This volunteer effort has improved habitat and recovered spinedace in portions of the basin.

The Center for Biological Diversity and WildEarth Guardians claim both the regal fritillary and the Virgin River spinedace deserve extra protection under the Endangered Species Act. They petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) to list them as “threatened” or “endangered.”

In response to those petitions, the Service is publishing a substantial 90-day finding, which is the first step in determining whether the fritillary and spinedace require federal protection. A “substantial” finding triggers a closer look at the species’ status, also known as a 12-month finding.  The Service will also be evaluating the effectiveness of conservation efforts.

The Service is seeking additional scientific and commercial data available on the fritillary and spinedace. Written comments are requested by November 17, 2015, and can be submitted electronically at http://www.regulations.gov.  In the Search box, enter Docket Number FWS–R6–ES–2015–0121 for the Virgin River spinedace, or FWS–R6–ES–2015–0078 for the regal fritillary, and click on the “Comment Now!” button. Comments can also be submitted via U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. [Insert appropriate docket number], U.S. Fish and Wildlife, MS: BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803. Please note that submissions merely supporting or opposing a potential listing, without supporting documentation, will not be considered in making a determination.

The Service will post all information received on http://www.regulations.gov.  This generally means that the Service will post any personal information that is provided.

For more information on the Service’s current analysis of each of these species, please visit http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/es/Sept-90day-batch.php.

To view the complete Federal Register notice that publishes September 18, 2015, visit https://www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection. Click on the 2015 Notices link under Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants.

For further details on the 90-day finding process, visit http://www.fws.gov/endangered/what-we-do/listing-petition-process.html.

For more information on other Mountain-Prairie species, visit http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/es/endangered.php.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service.

For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/. Connect with our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/USFWSMountainPrairie,  follow our tweets at http://twitter.com/USFWSMtnPrairie, watch our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwsmtnprairie/.

– FWS –

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Office of External Affairs

Mountain-Prairie Region

134 Union Blvd

Lakewood, CO 80228


303-236-3815 FAX



Serena Baker
(303) 236-4588
Larry Crist
(801) 975-3330 x 126
larry_crist@fws.gov (Virgin River spinedace)
Scott Larson
(605) 224-8693 x 224
scott_larson@fws.gov (regal fritillary)

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The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with Others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American People.
Last modified: September 23, 2015
All Images Credit to and Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Unless Specified Otherwise.
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