Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP via Getty Images
Butterflies won’t fly anymore – or not in public view, anyway.
The National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, announced it was closing “for the immediate future” after continued harassment directed at employees and the center itself.
The center, a nonprofit nature reserve nestled near the US-Mexico border, has unwittingly become the subject of conservative conspiracy theories and political strife in recent years, after being locked in a years-long legal battle with the Trump administration and We build the wall regarding a border wall project.
The harassment has grown to such an extent that it led the board of directors of the North American Butterfly Association, which owns and operates the butterfly center, to decide on Tuesday to close the center’s doors, according to a declaration released on Wednesday.
“The safety of our staff and visitors is our primary concern,” NABA President and Founder Dr. Jeffrey Glassberg said in the statement. “We look forward to reopening, soon, when the authorities and professionals helping us through this situation give us the green light.”
While it’s unclear when or if the center will reopen, employees will continue to be paid in the interim, according to Wednesday’s statement.
The National Butterfly Center filed a trial in 2017 after the Trump administration reportedly began construction of a wall, using chainsaws destroy trees and other vegetation on center property without permission. The 100-acre property is home to lush gardens and endangered flora, as well as numerous nature trails that are the natural habitats of over 200 species of butterflies that live there.
If efforts to build a border wall on the center’s property were to continue, it would cause significant environmental damage and could harm many endangered species, the center said. It would also essentially leave ownership of the center divided, NPR previously reported.
The announcement of the center’s closure follows a previous three-day closure from January 28-30 due to security concerns. In one public statementthe center cited ‘credible threats’ they were made aware of regarding ‘We Stand America’, a right-wing rally set to take place the same weekend in McAllen, Texas.
“We still can’t believe we are at the center of this rising maelstrom of malevolence in the United States,” the center said.