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Group takes tour of Fort McCoy’s endangered butterfly habitat

FORT MCCOY, Wis. (WXOW) –  Fort McCoy is home to one of the largest remaining populations of endangered butterfly species and they used that to their advantage Friday.

Fort McCoy held their first Butterfly Field Day, Friday at the Fort McCoy Airfield. A group from the McCoy community had the chance to see a few different endangered butterfly species. The group first watched a presentation that detailed the different endangered species they may see, how to spot the difference between a male and female butterfly, and learned facts about the landscape in which they live.

After the presentation, the group loaded up on a bus for a tour around the area. Fort McCoy Chief of the Natural Resources Branch Tim Wilder says their goal for taking a group out to see the butterfly habitat is so that they understand how the endangered species flourish on the land.

Eastern Tiger Swallow Tail

“We’ve got so many rare butterfly species that they’re declining in other parts of their range, and basically it’s a good news story of what’s happening not only on Fort McCoy but for military installations across the country,” Wilder said. ” There’s more rare species on military lands where military training goes on than there are on lands being managed by the Fishing Wildlife Service or whatever.”

The group made a few stops and saw a few endangered species including the Karner Blue, Regal Fritillary and Ottoe Skipper, along with several other more common species. Many of the butterfly species that live on Fort McCoy’s land are some of the only remaining populations. Wilder theorized that military training has helped manage the landscape which the butterflies live.

” Over 150 years ago, in this part of Wisconsin, there was herds of buffalo that moved across the landscape. It might take a couple days for the herd to come through so they trample that vegetation and now they’re gone. Well, what does the military do? They bivouac. It’s like camping on steroids… They set up their tents and heavy equipment but they’re only in an area for 7 to 10 days and then they’re gone again so it kind of mimics those kind of disturbances.”

Karner Blue Butterfly

Fort McCoy is hosting another butterfly Field Day on Saturday, July 27. There are two different sessions that anyone from the community can attend. The first session is from 9 a.m. to noon and the second session is from 1 to 4 p.m.


Abigail Moore

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