Ban On Releasing Butterflies Up For Debate In San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – The release of butterflies at weddings and other private events could soon be banned in San Francisco over environmental concerns.

The San Francisco Commission on the Environment was set to meet Tuesday night to discuss the proposal to ban the release of commercially-raised butterflies within city limits. If approved, the ban would still require a vote by the Board of Supervisors.

Local butterfly expert Liam O’Brien told the San Francisco Examiner that he has been pushing for a ban since he watched the California Academy of Sciences release 500 monarch butterflies at their reopening in 2008. He claims the practice of releasing large numbers of them is simply inhumane.

“They are not party favors for the human circus,” O’Brien told the Examiner.

Environmentalists also claim that the farmed butterflies are susceptible to genetic weaknesses and can introduce disease to their wild counterparts.

Breeders counter that the ban could actually weaken the populations of prized butterflies and say the ban is likely unenforceable.

Debate on the issue will be heard at Tuesday’s 5 p.m. meeting at the Bayview Opera House.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. )

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