Butterflies May Be the Canaries in the Environmental Coal Mine

Butterfly species around the world are endangered or have gone extinct, experts reported last week at an international conference.

The conference -- the inaugural meeting of the partner organizations behind the newly formed Butterfly Conservation Europe -- brought together butterfly experts from 31 countries, and also brought some disturbing news: The Maderian Large White has become the first European butterfly to go extinct since the 17th century.

It's not alone, apparently, as "Several countries reported the extinction of 10 or more butterfly species within their national boundaries," reported The Telegraph.

Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Turkey, the Ukraine, the UK, Slovakia and Latvia were among the countries reporting the largest number of extinct or endangered butterfly species. Industrial agricultural practices seem to be the most frequently cited reason for the declines.

"Patterns of butterfly behavior are already telling us much about global warming and climate change," said Martin Warren, Chairman of Butterfly Conservation Europe.

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