Minnesota Zoo trying to save butterfly from extinction


The little-known Poweshiek skipperling was once plentiful in Minnesota, but experts at the Minnesota Zoo are now trying to save it from extinction, reports Minnesota Public Radio (MPR).

The skipperling has a long and strong history in our state, but the population has dwindled dramatically along with our prairie land. Minnesota once had an estimated 18 million acres of prairie land, where the skipperling lives its whole life, of which less than 1 percent now remains, according to MPR. No Poweshiek skipperlings have been observed in Minnesota since 2007.

But with funds from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, MPR reports the Minnesota Zoo's Prairie Butterfly Conservation Program, is trying to capture female skipperlings where they still exist, such as Wisconsin and Manitoba, and hatch their eggs in the lab.

Erik Runquist, who leads the conservation program, says its not likely the Poweshiek skipperlings will ever thrive like they once did in our state. They'll likely only live in a zoo environment.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports the Poweshiek skipperling has been designated as a candidate for listing as threatened or endangered.

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