ENDANGERED FECES! What? Oh never mind.

Published: February 14, 2009

So I’m reading an article in the Obama TIME Magazine a week or so ago (formerly just TIME Mag, now it’s Obama TIME all the TIME), and I’m reading an article by Richard Stolley about a crisis facing the residents of the tiny town of Cloudcroft, New Mexico.

Cloudcroft is facing a crisis because of another type of resident, the Sacramento Mountains Checkerspot Butterfly. Seems the biological clock is ticking down on the butterfly and ‘the usual suspects’ blame mankind. The towns main industry, timber, was shut down in 1993 in response to environmental demands to save the Mexican Spotted Owl. Now the only industry they have left in Cloudcroft (9,000 feet elevation) is tourism  because it sounds like a glorious place to hike, fish & camp in the gorgeous Sacramento Mountains south of Albuquerque.

sacramento-mountainNow I’m looking at the picture of the wee beastie and it’s like I recognize an old friend, the equally famous and supposedly nearly extinct Quino Checkerspot Butterfly.  The Quino brought development in our area to a virtual standstill a decade ago when enviro’s demanded that any and all  potential habitat be spared. Trouble is, for an endangered species, they live everywhere – or darn near.

quino I remember many a day accompanying Paul, the local Quino Checkerspot butterfly expert, out on a hunt to determine if they were mating in a given area. See, they loved to hang out in the plentiful Chaparral Scrub and Coastal Sage and if you caught them mating there would be no building permit for that parcel. Trouble is they only mate for about 6 weeks a year in the spring and even then only if it’s a reasonably wet spring. If we had a dry spring you couldn’t get a permit because you couldn’t tell if they were there or not because mating conditions weren’t ideal. So you had to wait a year and hope next spring was wetter. Our local expert had been tracking them for 6 years and, aside from the occasional small empty champagne bottle and the teeny tiny cigarette butts, he had yet to see one but he remained optimistic (not to mention, voyeauristic).

Some locals resorted to surreptitiously torching their parcels. Hey – no Chaparral no butterflies Mr. Inspector. Others found a loophole where they’d register a complaint with the County Fire Department that the parcel was a wildfire hazard. The County would  order them to clear the weeds off. Hey – no Chaparral no butterflies Mr. Inspector. It all got pretty silly.

I swear to God I’m not making this stuff up. You can Google it or whatever you want and you’ll find the truth whereof I speak. Just ask Jack Henz or Jerry Jeffries or some of the old land hands.

Finally after a few drought years where there was no butterfly mating to speak of, Realtors, developers and private property advocates raised enough hell that reason prevailed. If you had a 5 acre parcel even if it was rife with scrub and mating butterflies, you could still build on at least one acre if you left the rest alone. Over time that too has been relaxed so that man and butterfly now peacefully co-exist and each is free to mate on their own land with impunity.

But as I researched this post (because I would never just go off on a tangent half-crocked), I realized there are numerous members of the Checkerspot Butterfly family. I’ll bet you didn’t know that. And you k now what? They’re all the same and there’s billions of them. I don’t think they’re endangered at all. It’s just that if they live in SoCal they’re called Quino and they’re endangered. If they live in NorCal they’re called Bay Checkerspot and they’re endangered. If they live in New Mexico they’re called Sacramento Mountain and they’re endangered. There are numerous other family members including one that’s the state bird of Maryland – I
found 8 in about a 30 second search.

It’s kinda like saying the Smith family is endangered because on this one block there is only one family named Archibald V. Smith, and down in this bar there’s only one Maria Angelina Smith and up in Cleveland there’s just a single Rooney Alexander Smith. Ya think I’m onto something here or am I just whistling in the dark? And does it even matter?

So here’s a public service. Below are the names and photos of several varieties of Checkerspot Butterfly. If you or your favorite environmentalist can match the names to the appropriate photos and correctly identify which ones are endangered, I’ll send you a fully mounted (photo) of your favorite (well it would hardly be PC to send a real one since they’re about to disappear and all.) Be honest and don’t pass your cursor over the photo to see what the tag says. That’s cheating and qualifies you for a Cabinet level position in the Obama government.

Based on my extensive research, I’m seriously questioning the  endangered nature of Familiae Checkerspottium. It’s my hypotenuse that they just have a good press agent and that I’m the first one in the country to connect the spots pointing out the phallusy of their endangerment & demise.

Of course that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.


1. Bay Checkerspot Butterfly

2.Taylors Checkserspot Butterfly

3. Quino Checkerspot Butterfly

4. Chalcedon Checkerspot Butterfly

5. Sacramento Mountains Checkerspot Butterfly

6. Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly

7. Anicia Checkerspot Butterfly

8. Texola-Elada Checkerspot Butterfly

A

A

B

B

C

C

D

D

E

E

G

G

G

G

H

H

Now wasn’t that fun?

The opinions in this commentary are strictly Gene Wunderlich’s personal opinions. While any reasonable and/or rational indivdual should agree wholeheartedly,
the opinons reflected herein may not necessarily be those of the Southwest Riverside County AOR, or any local or state government or other mental institution.


Last modified: November 13, 2019 at 4:45 pm | Originally published: February 14, 2009 at 11:55 am
Printed: September 26, 2020