Parks Canada and Calgary Zoo conserving endangered butterfly in Waterton Lakes National Park

From: Parks Canada

Waterton Lakes National Park supporting three-year program with $289,800 contribution

January 13, 2021 Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta Parks Canada Agency

Parks Canada is a recognized leader in conservation. By protecting national parks and other Parks Canada places across the country and investing in conservation projects, the Agency plays an important role in protecting our iconic Canadian biodiversity and supporting the recovery of our species at risk.

Today, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, announced that Parks Canada and the Calgary Zoo are working together to conserve and restore the endangered half-moon hairstreak butterfly population in Waterton Lakes National Park. Parks Canada is contributing $289,000 and in-kind support to the Calgary Zoo for this three-year project.

The half-moon hairstreak (Satyrium semiluna) is a small, brown butterfly listed as an endangered species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA). The only location where this butterfly is known to exist in Alberta is in Waterton Lakes National Park in the Blakiston Fan, a grassland area along the entrance road to the park.

This collaboration between Parks Canada and the Calgary Zoo will advance longer-term population monitoring and will greatly improve our understanding of the life history of the half-moon hairstreak butterfly. The project will also support the collection of genetic material to assess the possibility of wild-to-wild translocations of butterflies from other populations in B.C. or Montana. Expected research activities will include examining the duration of life stages, survival rates, larval behaviour, interactions with ants, and egg over-wintering conditions. Conservation activities will include assessing and restoring the butterfly’s habitat and managing invasive plants.

Under the Species at Risk Act (SARA), Parks Canada is responsible for the protection and recovery of listed species across its network of protected areas. Parks Canada collaborates with academic and expert partners and uses innovative and cutting-edge techniques to conduct research that helps protect and restore special places like Waterton Lakes National Park. By working together, we can ensure the protection and conservation of key ecosystems for future generations.

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