Recently our Executive Director, Randal Heide, joined representatives from other partner groups to survey for mottled duskywing butterflies at one of the few sites where the species still exists. These endangered butterflies have disappeared from much of their former range and are now found in only a handful of locations in Canada. Fortunately, the population at the site we recently surveyed appears to be thriving.
The mottled duskywing is part of a group of eastern Canadian butterflies found in dry, open areas such as alvars or well-drained grasslands and savanna. Although much of this habitat has been lost to development, most of what remains has been heavily impacted by decades of fire suppression and the introduction of invasive plants. Already, the Karner blue and frosted elfin butterflies have been extirpated from Canada, and another duskywing, the eastern persius, is also classified as endangered but may very well have disappeared from Canada as well, as there have been no confirmed sightings here since 1979.
Wildlife Preservation Canada is part of a group of organizations who are evaluating the feasibility of recovering all four of these species through the use of captive breeding and reintroduction. For this to work, however, we must have adequate habitat in multiple locations – especially including sufficient quantities of each species’ preferred host plants. For now, therefore, the emphasis is on habitat restoration and creation at various sites. Once these efforts have progressed far enough, we hope to be able to step up and assist in recovery efforts by contributing our expertise in breeding and release.