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California Briefing / ANTIOCH

Biologists hope to revive butterfly

September 02, 2008|From the Associated Press

Biologists are hopeful that 30 pregnant butterflies released into a San Francisco Bay area wildlife preserve will help bring the species back from the brink of extinction.

The Lange's metalmark butterflies were set free in the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Preserve last week after being bred in captivity.

The orange, brown and white species lives only in the 55-acre preserve, a rare remnant of sweeping sand dunes once common in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service launched the captive breeding program after the adult Lange's metalmark population dropped from 2,300 in 1999 to 45 in 2006.

Wildlife monitors blame habitat loss for the species' decline.

Biologists will be watching over the next two weeks for the released butterflies to lay their eggs.

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