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June 08, 2012

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Karner blue management plan revision
eases restrictions on military training

Karner blue butterflies are doing well at Fort McCoy. So well the installation recently revised its management plan to ease restrictions on military training in the Karner blue’s core habitat areas. In addition, the frequency of surveys designed to estimate Karner blue butterfly populations will be decreased.

PHOTO: A view of a female Karner blue butterfly. Photo by Rob Schuette
A view of a female Karner blue  butterfly at Fort McCoy’s South Post. The butterfly is a little bigger than a quarter. (Photo by Rob Schuette)

Tim Wilder, Fort McCoy Endangered Species biologist, said the Karner blue remains a federally listed endangered species. The butterfly was first documented on the installation in the early 1990s and a healthy population has been reported since that time.

When the original Karner blue butterfly management plan was written in 1995, core population areas covering 65 acres were identified and signs were posted in the field. The purpose of these core areas was to serve as Karner blue butterfly refuge sites.

Karners from these sites would repopulate other habitat areas when widespread disturbance to Karner habitat occurred as a result of military training. Use restrictions in these areas included vehicle traffic, bivouacking, and digging; foot traffic was allowed. Since 1995, no widespread disturbances have occurred on the landscape, and it is now believed that it is unlikely that any will occur in the future. Due to this fact, core areas designations and use restrictions were removed this spring (i.e. signs removed).

Although 65 acres is not a large area, this change may help increase or support additional military training opportunities, he said.

“Surveys to estimate Karner blue populations have been conducted since 1997,” Wilder said.

“Our population estimates have consistently exceeded the Fish & Wildlife Service recovery goals. We will now be reducing our survey efforts to every other year instead of annually,” Wilder said.

This reduction in survey frequency will save approximately $50,000 over the next five-years.

“We will continue to assess our monitoring efforts and it is possible that further reductions could occur in the future,” Wilder said. “This is extremely timely in an era of diminishing resources.”

Wilder said this management plan will be reviewed annually and updated as necessary.

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