SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) – Spring weather offers wildlife professionals an opportunity to restore a colorful part of the Bay Area’s ecosystem. And if you walk in the right area, you may just see the results that flicker by.
They may be tiny, but you are seeing a great ecological success story. Variable checkerspot butterflies, which became extinct in the San Francisco Presidio in the late 1970s, are now thriving again. The result of a recent wildlife manager project carried out by Presidio Trust to first restore the original habitat and then reintroduce it.
“They took off. You can see them in all of these restored areas of the park,” says wildlife ecologist Jonathan Young.
RELATED: How the Presidio Protects Coyote Pups from Dog Confrontations
Young and a team of butterfly experts hope to double their success. On a sunny morning, they combed the Marin Headlands looking for another missing Presidio species, the California Ringlets.
“They can be a little elusive. There are a lot of badger holes to watch out for while walking around,” warns Young.
But after a couple of hours they netted five men and five women. After being temporarily put on hold, they went to a meadow near the Inspiration Point in the heart of the Presidio. It is part of a restored habitat that has become a critical urban oasis.
RELATED: Blanding’s turtles were released into the wild after being reared by zookeepers
“We have an endangered of the largest concentrations of endangered butterflies and because we have this coincidence of intensive human development,” says Stuart Weiss, chief scientist at the Creekside Center for Earth Observation.
But after wandering a few hundred yards down a grassy hill, it was time to release the Presidio’s newest residents.
Within a few minutes, the ringlets felt at home. With the females who will hopefully lay eggs for the next generation. And if the success of previous reintroductions is any indicator, wildlife managers hope the ringlets will be made again at the Presidio soon. And help to maintain a balanced ecosystem.
RELATED: Bay Mud Could Help Wetlands Survive Sea Level Rise, New Studies Show
“We have a lot more of that to do as the 21st century progresses,” says Young.
Weiss reiterated the importance of species restoration.
“They are the part of the insect world that we can easily observe. And humans love butterflies,” he said.
The Presidio Trust team plans to continue the reintroduction for many months to ensure the ringlets are firmly established.
Copyright © 2021 KGO-TV. All rights reserved.