Taylor’s Checkerspot butterfly (TCB) is an Endangered species in Canada. Also known as Whulge or Edith’s Checkerspot (Euphydryas editha taylori), they were once common in Garry Oak ecosystems, wet meadows and disturbed habitats from the Comox Valley and Hornby Island in BC to the Willamette Valley in Oregon. These eye-catching little orange and black butterflies have disappeared from all but 15 locations in the world. Currently, the only known breeding sites for TCBs in Canada are on Denman Island near Comox, and even that population has dwindled in recent years.
Taylor’s Checkerspot recovery in British Columbia has been an ongoing effort by numerous groups and agencies over the past ten years. Inventory within unsurveyed potential habitat, surveys and monitoring within known sites, habitat assessment, biological information gathering and ongoing stewardship work by local groups has contributed to our current knowledge of this butterfly. This website summarizes some of the current recovery efforts for Taylor’s Checkerspot in Canada.
The GOERT Invertebrates At Risk Recovery Implementation Group (RIG) and Taylor’s Checkerspot Community Working Group (TCCWG) are working to reverse the population decline of Taylor’s Checkerspots in Canada. Over the next five years, the RIG is planning to augment the existing population and re-establish populations of the butterfly in at least two sites within its former range. This recovery project involves much planning, consultation, collaboration, volunteer effort and on-the-ground work with a team of dedicated individuals and project partners.
The Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly Recovery Project has several simultaneous components, including: habitat enhancement at both existing sites and proposed translocation sites, monitoring TCB population trends and habitat, breeding and rearing butterflies at the Greater Vancouver Zoo, as well as planning for future initiatives, and ensuring the public has opportunities to become involved in the recovery efforts for this species.
Many organizations and individuals are contributing countless hours of time, expertise, resources and labour to TCB conservation initiatives. GOERT’s Invertebrates at Risk Recovery Implementation Group (RIG) provides science advice and guidance for Taylor’s Checkerspot recovery. The Taylor’s Checkerspot Community Working Group (TCCWG) includes some RIG members, representatives from the Denman Conservancy Association and Wildlife Preservation Canada, Denman Island community volunteers and landowners who are keenly involved in the stewardship, monitoring and on-the-ground recovery actions for the butterfly.
Both groups are comprised of a spectrum of committed volunteers from many backgrounds including local residents, consulting biologists, wildlife husbandry specialists; and representatives from the BC Ministry of Environment, BC Parks, BC Ministry of Forest Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Denman Conservancy Association ,the Greater Vancouver Zoo, Wildlife Preservation Canada , University of British Columbia and the GOERT Society. The Taylor’s Checkerspot breeding program is operatied by the Greater Vancouver Zoo in collaboration with Wildlife Preservation Canada and the BC Ministry of Environment. Some of these agencies, organizations and individuals are also working on other TCB conservation projects (check their websites for details).
We are grateful for the generous funding support that the project has received from:
There are many ways to become involved and support the conservation work for Taylor’s Checkerspot.
A recovery project such as this involves a team of dedicated volunteers. If you’d like to help improve TCB habitat on Denman Island please contact Deborah Bishop, Volunteer Coordinator and Co-Chair of the Taylor’s Checkerspot Community Working Group. Some of the volunteer stewardship work in the Butterfly Reserve involves vegetation removal, planting and enhancing host plant patches with native plants such as strawberry and speedwell, and other aspects of habitat improvement for the butterfly.
If you wish to volunteer with the Taylor’s Checkerspot Conservation Breeding Program, please contact Andrea Gielens, Wildlife Preservation Canada Lead Biologist for BC Projects: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’d like to become more involved with the scientific advice and research for Taylor’s Checkerspot, including those interested in pursuing graduate studies in areas of Taylor’s Checkerspot conservation, please contact the Recovery Implementation Group (RIG) chair Jennifer Heron (Jennifer.Heron@gov.bc.ca) to discuss potential projects and funding options. Although she will look for funding opportunities for exciting Taylor’s Checkerspot projects, students are also asked to think about means to secure external funding.
Taylor’s Checkerspots may still be in areas of unsurveyed Garry Oak and associated ecosystems, as well as open wet clear-cuts, meadows, farmer’s fields and grazed pastures, wet rocky outcrops and similar habitats. Many small, unchecked areas of habitat remain within the Comox and Courtenay areas, southeastern Vancouver Island along the coast to Victoria, Hornby Island, Texada Island, Lasqueti Island, and the southern Gulf Islands. If these habitats are within your community, and you or your local conservation organization would like to become more involved in searching for the species within these areas, please also contact Jennifer Heron, the RIG chair.