Newsroom Midwest Region

April 12, 2016

Wisconsin Contact: Tom Kerr,, 715-246-7784
Michigan Contact: Steve Kahl,, 989-607-6022

National Wildlife Refuges Help to Recover Threatened, Endangered Species in Michigan and Wisconsin

Karner blue butterfly and eastern prairie fringed orchid. Photos by USFWS.
Karner blue butterfly and eastern prairie fringed orchid. Photos by USFWS.

Through our Cooperative Recovery Initiative, we are helping to recover threatened and endangered plants and animals. We are committing to 16 projects across 27 states for recovery of some of the nation’s most at-risk species on or near national wildlife refuges. Here in the Midwest, we are focusing some of these funds on the endangered Karner blue butterfly in Wisconsin and the threatened eastern prairie fringed orchid in Michigan.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service’s Cooperative Recovery Initiative reflects the key role that the National Wildlife Refuge System plays in the conservation and recovery of America’s most at-risk species,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “This funding not only provides support for innovative projects that directly benefit threatened and endangered species; it also benefits countless other species that share the same habitat. Critically, these projects foster local partnerships and collaboration in conservation projects. That broader community support means a greater chance of success.”

At St. Croix Wetland Management District, refuge staff will strengthen and expand recovery efforts for endangered Karner blue butterfly populations in western Wisconsin. They will also refine techniques for reestablishing the butterfly to restored habitat by harvesting wild lupine, the species’ host plant, and nearby vegetation where butterfly’s eggs are present. The vegetation and eggs will be moved to alternate locations with sufficient wild lupine to sustain the larvae once hatched. With climate change and other stressors acting on Karner blue butterfly populations, we have to be strategic and target cost-effective reintroduction efforts within areas with restored habitat for the species. Other species that can benefit are the monarch butterfly and prairie bush clover.

In Michigan, staff at Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge will establish a population of threatened eastern prairie fringed orchid using plant orchid plugs in suitable habitat at the refuge. Staff will also manage an orchid population on private land near the refuge to harvest seed to supplement the planted plugs. Monitoring of the plugs and hand pollination of orchids on the private land will occur for three years, and results will be assessed to focus future recovery actions.

The Cooperative Recovery Initiative was established in 2013 to restore and recover federally listed species on national wildlife refuges and surrounding lands. It funds on-the-ground conservation projects that provide high conservation benefits.

Learn more about St. Croix Wetlands Management District:

Learn more about Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge:

For information on endangered species in the Midwest, visit: