Butterflies from MCCCW released with the help of Attorney General’s office attorneys

By Graduate Research Assistants Dennis Aubrey, Fiona Edwards, and Jaal Mann

Last week 48 adult Taylor’s checkerspots were released at a restoration site within the Scatter Creek Wildlife Area. The release was attended by three graduate research assistants from SPP, two restoration ecologists from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), and 18 attorneys from the Washington Attorney General’s office. It was a rare treat for everyone involved.

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An attorney from the Attorney General’s office frees an adult Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly at Scatter Creek Wildlife Area. All photos by Jaal Mann.

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Another attorney enjoys a moment with a butterfly before it takes flight

The attorneys, who are responsible for representing WDFW in court, appeared especially enthusiastic and moved by the experience—there were many beautiful smiles as the butterflies left their hands. Dennis Aubrey, the SPP coordinator of the Taylor’s checkerspot program at MCCCW, provided instruction on proper release techniques, and then everyone had a chance to set a butterfly free: coaxing them out of their cups, placing them on flowers, or simply letting them fly away across the prairie.

This marks the winding down of the second season of butterfly rearing at MCCCW. Adult butterflies are released after breeding activities are concluded, to allow them to finish out their days in the sunshine, feeling the wind and tasting the flowers. These butterflies and their siblings are responsible for laying over 3,000 eggs at Mission Creek Corrections Center for Women (MCCCW) this season, which have hatched and are cared for by the inmates until release next March. To date, the MCCCW endangered butterfly rearing program has successfully reared and released over 7,000 Taylor’s checkerspot caterpillars onto prairie restoration sites in the south Puget lowlands.

Carefully releasing a Taylor's checkerspot butterfly into the wild

Carefully releasing a Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly

The butterfly takes its first flight at Scatter Creek Wildlife Area

The butterfly takes flight at Scatter Creek Wildlife Area

Lomatium provides a welcome landing site for a newly released butterfly

Lomatium provides a welcome landing site for a newly released butterfly

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