The Karner blue is a small blue butterfly with a wingspan of only about one inch. Yet, managing for this small endangered species has helped improve and expand habitat for many rare species in central Wisconsin.
Throughout its range Karner blue habitat was lost as wildfires were suppressed, forests planted in savannas, and human infrastructured expanded. Once found from Minnesota to the Atlantic Coast, the Karner is now found only in disjunct populations in Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Wisconsin has the most most widespread population. Wisconsin's state-wide Karner blue HCP and other recovery actions have helped restore and secure Karner populations as well as their oak savanna habitat.
Recovery has included research to map and monitor suitable habitat and populations and to evaluate management actions; propogation for reintroductions; habitat restoration; habitat management; and land protection.
2006 Private Stewardship Grant: Karner blue butterfly and associated declining species of savanna and barrens (Portage, Waupaca, Outagamie, Waushara, Adams, Marquette, Green Lake, Jackson, Wood, Juneau, and Monroe counties, Wisconsin)
Karner Blue Butterfly Research, Monitoring and Management
Research and monitoring are essential components for Karner blue recovery. Monitoring and research results document the success or failure of management techniques so that the techniques can be adjusted. This is particularly important during a time of rapid climate change.
Always an innovator, the state of Wisconsin was the first state to develop a state-wide HCP for a listed species. The state-wide HCP allowed state agencies and private landowners to continue their actions that may affect Karner habitat, while ensuring that measures were taken to minimize harm to the species.