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

News release

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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Additional multimedia

The only location where the half-moon hairstreak 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.

Quotes

“National parks play an important role in addressing the impacts of climate change, protecting our biodiversity and contributing to the recovery of species at risk. Parks Canada is pleased to partner with the Calgary Zoo to support the survival of the half-moon hairstreak butterfly in Waterton Lakes National Park. Together, we are protecting our natural environment, and the wildlife that call it home, for generations to come.”

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson,
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada

We are thrilled to bring applied science expertise to the fight against the extinction of species big and small, and we are proud to be working alongside other dedicated conservation leaders like Parks Canada. This tiny and humble butterfly may not be in the spotlight as much as some species, but their existence is a valuable and intrinsic part of Canada’s rich biodiversity; together we’ll work hard to ensure they have a vibrant future for generations to come.

Dr. Clément Lanthier
President & CEO, Calgary Zoo

Quick facts

  • The half-moon hairstreak butterfly is an endangered species only known to exist in nine locations in Canada, eight in British Columbia and one in Alberta, on the Blakiston Fan in Waterton Lakes National Park. Critical habitat for this species has been identified and legally protected under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) within Waterton Lakes National Park since December 2016.

  • The small half-moon hairstreak butterfly is light brown with indistinct white-ringed black spots on its wings. Unlike many other species of hairstreaks, the half-moon hairstreak has no “tail” on the hindwing.

  • Butterflies are important to the ecosystem, both as prey species, and as a pollinator. A diverse profusion of butterflies can indicate that an ecosystem is healthy and flourishing. They are also beautiful and fascinating insects to observe.

  • In Waterton, the half-moon hairstreak butterfly is primarily threatened by the loss of native plants - which the butterfly relies on for food, shelter and breeding - due in part to an increase of invasive plants.
  • The Calgary Zoo is a national and global leader in reintroductions that uses innovative applied science to save species including many that are endangered in Canada; now it is excited to share such expertise to help half-moon hairstreak recovery efforts.

Associated links

Contacts

Moira Kelly
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
819-271-6218
moira.kelly@canada.ca

Media Relations
Parks Canada Agency
855-862-1812
pc.medias-media.pc@canada.ca

Calgary Zoo Media Relations
Alison Archambault, Director Brand & Engagement
403-232-7766 | 403-919-9482
mediarelations@calgaryzoo.com

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