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.
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.