Rare Fla butterfly sought for breeding program

Search underway by UF scientists

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KEY LARGO, Fla. - Federal wildlife authorities have issued an emergency order authorizing the capture of a handful of rare butterflies in South Florida.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service authorized University of Florida butterfly experts to capture up to four female Schaus swallowtail butterflies for a captive breeding program.

The butterfly is now found on only a few islands in Biscayne Bay and on Key Largo. Its population has dipped from hundreds of sightings decades ago to just three confirmed sightings since May 11.

Biscayne National Park has planted more young torchwood trees near the Elliott Key marina to expand the butterfly's potential breeding habitat. The park's resource management chief tells The Miami Herald that the Schaus swallowtail still needs more help from humans to survive.

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