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Endangered Butterflies Released Back into Manitoba Wilderness

August 11, 2022 10:00 AM | News

Poweshiek Skipperling Butterfly

The Poweshiek skipperling butterfly. (ASSINIBOINE PARK ZOO / HANDOUT)

WINNIPEG — More than 200 endangered butteries have been released back onto the Manitoba landscape.

The Assiniboine Park Conservancy recently set a record with the release of 191 critically endangered Poweshiek skipperling butterflies.

Over a three-week period in July, APC released the butteries onto the landscape at the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s properties in the Manitoba Tall Grass Prairie Preserve in the RM of Stuartburn in southeastern Manitoba.

This year’s butterfly conservation program also included the release of 16 endangered Dakota skippers at a site in Manitoba’s Interlake region, bringing the total number of butterflies released this year to 207.

“We are thrilled with the results of this year’s breeding and release program and excited for what it means for the future of these endangered species,” said Ashleigh Westphal, research conservation specialist, Assiniboine Park Conservancy.

Poweshiek Skipperling Butterfly

Assiniboine Park Conservancy staff prepare to release Poweshiek skipperling butterflies. (ASSINIBOINE PARK ZOO / HANDOUT)

“When we started the release program in 2018, experts estimated there were only about 100 Poweshiek skipperling butterflies remaining in all of Canada. We released six butterflies that year. The growth of the program and results so far are very encouraging, but we have a long way to go before this species will be secure in the wild. Collaboration with partners and local landowners is integral to the success of this program and ongoing grassland conservation efforts.”

This is the fifth annual release of Poweshiek skipperling butterflies and the first for Dakota skippers in Manitoba. The Conservancy says the number of adult butterflies released this year is more than four times larger than last year’s release thanks to a successful expansion of the breeding program.

Dakota Skipper Butterfly

The Dakota skipper butterfly. (ASSINIBOINE PARK ZOO / HANDOUT)