MIAMI (AP) _ Emergency federal protections for a butterfly found only in a remote Florida Keys refuge are now permanent.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Thursday that the Miami blue butterfly would be formally listed as an endangered species.
A temporary listing issued in August would have expired Friday.
The butterfly was once common along Florida’s coastlines from the Lower Keys up to Tampa Bay and Cape Canaveral. Now it’s only found in the Key West National Wildlife Refuge.
The wildlife service also prohibited the collection of three similar butterflies _ cassius blue, ceraunus blue and nickerbean blue _ within the historical range of the Miami blue.
Officials say habitat loss, environmental effects from climate change and butterfly collection threaten the Miami blue with extinction.