San Francisco may become the first major city to ban the release of butterflies at weddings and other special events.
The San Francisco Commission on the Environment unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday night to ban the practice, which environmentalists argue threatens the species.
“Many San Franciscans believe that butterflies are animals to be respected and valued as part of the city’s natural heritage and should not be used as decorations or for entertainment,” the resolution states.
The commission supports the ban because the practice of releasing commercially bred butterflies can affect the insect population and conservation efforts.
“Experts state that release of non-native and/or commercially raised butterflies can cause the introduction of deleterious genes into local populations, which could negatively influence the survivorship potential of native butterflies,” the resolution added.
The resolution orders the Department of the Environment to work with conservationists and local lawmakers before the Board of Supervisors can approve the resolution and have it written into law.
The president of the North American Butterfly Association, Jeffrey Glassberg, told Fox News the butterflies that are sent to these events are often sick, dead or dying when they arrive and the commercial sale of butterflies can harm wild populations by spreading disease. Farmed butterflies can also interfere with scientists trying to track or study the native populations.
However, opponents argue the ban is counterintuitive.
“If they disallow the reintroduction they will actually be injuring the butterfly population,” Dale McClung, a spokesperson for the International Butterfly Association, according to the Huffington Post. “People are just going to order butterflies anyway.”
Previously, the city made headlines for banning toys from fast-food meals to cats being de-clawed.
Sources: Huffington Post, Fox News