A city commission is mulling a new law that would ban letting butterflies free that might cause harm to wild butterflies.
Just to be clear, it's a ban on the release of commercially bred butterflies for ceremonial purposes, which, drawing on Native American tradition, has become a thing people do at weddings and other events.
As the Ex reports, a group of local butterfly enthusiasts is calling on the Commission on the Environment to issue a ban on these butterflies, which turn out to be kind of a big business. Butterfly breeders like this one sell and ship live, adult butterflies for $10 apiece.
Local lepidopterist and butterfly rights advocate Liam O'Brien gives a particularly dramatic statement in favor of the ban. "They are not creatures to be owned. They are not party favors for the human circus. We all know the exultation of a butterfly release. But it’s really a hellacious relationship to nature."
He and others argue that "commercial breeding harms wild butterflies with the threat of disease and genetic weakness, and it interferes with scientific studies." And he's had a thorn in his craw on this subject ever since he was forced to watch the release of 500 monarch butterflies to celebrate the reopening of the Academy of Sciences back in 2008.
S.F. is of course fond of such bans, but it would need to go through the Board of Supervisors before being approved. But we'll let you know how this all turns out, and whether it impacts that butterfly habitat at 38 Dolores.