BELFAIR, Wash. - The butterfly rearing program at Mission Creek Corrections Center for Women is taking off – literally.
After weeks of careful handling and scientific documentation, the first endangered Taylor’s Checkerspot butterflies have emerged from their cocoons and are ready to take flight to a new habitat.
Offenders at Mission Creek raise the butterfly to prevent it from being listed under the federal Endangered Species Act which would halt operations at a Joint Base Lewis-McChord artillery range where their current habitat is.
The inmate technicians are taking copious notes and have made the program something to be proud of - Mary Linders, a biologist at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
Linders said the program has doubled the capacity for raising the butterflies and that the first group should be ready for flight sometime in April.
The partnership is coordinated by the Sustainable Prisons Project, a partnership between the Department of Corrections and The Evergreen State College that has made prison operations more cost efficient in addition to creating low-cost offender programs and jobs. The butterfly project is paid for almost entirely through grants.
“This program reinforces the value added by engaging a diversity of conservation partners in endangered species conservation,” said Linders.
The partnership also includes participation from The Oregon Zoo, JBLM, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Center for Natural Lands Management and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
An offender checks on the newly hatched Taylor's Checkerspot butterflies.
By: Maria Peterson, Online Communications Specialist