The Karner blue butterfly was once common in the Midwest. But now it is federally listed as an endangered species. The butterfly is losing its natural habitat. The scientific name of the Karner blue butterfly is Lycaeides melissa samuelis. Although the species is rare nationwide, it is fairly common in central Wisconsin. It is seen in sandy soils where pine barrens, oak savannas, and mowed corridors support wild lupine. Wild lupine is the only food of the Karner blue caterpillar. Many of the power and gas lines in Portage and Waupaca counties are located near areas most fit for the butterfly.
We take part in Wisconsin's Karner Blue Butterfly Habitat Conservation Plan. The plan was established in 1999. It encourages partnership between public and private sectors and government agencies to help species and habitat conservation. In 2010, WPS was honored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for our partnership efforts.
Wisconsin's statewide habitat conservation plan (HCP) is the only one of its kind in the nation. It gives "incidental take permit coverage" to all HCP participants. An HCP participant is a company that commits to survey lands in order to help the butterfly. WPS surveys where ground-disturbing activity will take place. We note how close this activity is to the butterfly's range. If needed, action is taken. Land management activities are adjusted. The HCP group works to eliminate or reduce impacts to the endangered butterfly.