Lindsay Webb (603) 271-2605
Jane Vachon (603) 271-3211
September 17, 2009
Karner Blue Butterflies Back after Being Wiped Out Ten Years Ago
CONCORD, N.H. -- Ten years ago, New Hampshire's official State Butterfly -- the Karner blue -- had disappeared from the state. Now, thanks to dedicated conservation and restoration efforts by the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department and many partners, Karners are being successfully raised in captivity and surviving once again on their own in the wild. Their haunt is the Concord Pine Barrens -- a sandy, wooded area located off Loudon Road, comprised of pitch pine and scrub oak trees and native flowering plants such as New Jersey tea and wild blue lupine that provide essential habitat for Karners and other rare wildlife.
This year marks the fifth straight year that biologists have observed and documented Karner blue butterflies surviving on their own in the wild of the Concord Pine Barrens. Biologists observed Karner blue butterfly eggs and caterpillars and marked approximately 250 adult butterflies hatched in the wild. These observations confirm that Karner blue butterflies are reproducing in the wild.
In addition, biologists continue to raise the butterflies in captivity and release them into the wild. The N.H. Army National Guard provides a nearby location for raising the butterflies. "In April, the National Guard moved the Karner captive rearing facility into a newly renovated building that gives us twice as much space and better opportunities to keep the rooms at the ideal environmental conditions needed to raise Karner blue butterflies," said Lindsay Webb, a biological technician with the N.H. Fish and Game Department's Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program. "When the butterflies emerge in early summer, we release them every day, weather permitting, and sometimes 2 or 3 times a day depending on how many adults are in the captive rearing facility." In all, over 3,700 adult Karner blue butterflies were released into the wild this summer in New Hampshire.
Restoring Karner blue butterflies to New Hampshire has been largely successful over the years. This gives hope that with continued management of the habitat and the butterfly population that Karner blue butterflies will once again thrive on their own and be a beautiful symbol of the natural diversity of New Hampshire's wildlife.
The public is welcome to visit the easement at the end of Chenell Drive in East Concord, where a trailhead kiosk describes the Karner restoration project. Visitors are asked to not step on any wild lupine plants -- there may be Karner blue eggs or larvae on them. There are no adult butterflies at this time of year.
Funding for the habitat and butterfly restoration project is provided in part by Federal grants, sales of the New Hampshire conservation license plate (moose plates) and through private donations to the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program. The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department's partners in the Karner blue butterfly project include the N.H. Army National Guard, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the City of Concord. To help support the Karner blue butterfly and efforts to conserve other nongame and endangered species in New Hampshire, visit www.wildnh.com/Wildlife/nongame_and_endangered_wildlife.htm and download a print-and-mail donation form.
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