Minnesota DNR, Minnesota Zoo Introduces Dakota Boat Butterflies to Glacial Lakes State Park: Jul 17, 2023 | News release


The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota Zoo recently returned hundreds of Dakota skipper butterflies to Glacial Lake State Park.

“Dakota sliders were once common at Glacial Lake State Park, but we haven’t seen them in the park since 2005,” said Cindy Luett, DNR Parks and Trails Northwest Regional Resource Management Supervisor. “Many hours and a variety of tools have been used to prepare the landscape for the reintroduction of the Dakota sailboat. We are thrilled to welcome back this endangered butterfly.”

Once common in most of Minnesota’s native upland grasslands, Dakota sliders have since disappeared from all sites in the state. It is now listed as an endangered species in Minnesota and threatened in the US

The Dakota Chief survives only in native prairie habitats and will not inhabit non-native grasslands, weedy roadsides, tame hayfields, or other non-native prairie habitats. Today, approximately 1% of the native population remains in the state.

Minnesota DNR Parks and Trails resource workers in the Northwest Region have been rehabilitating remaining prairie areas at Glacial Lake State Park since 2018 for reintroduction efforts. Purple cone, the ship’s preferred source of nectar. Crews have removed more than 250 acres of woody vegetation, conducted prescribed burns, and now use grazing as one of the tools used to manage prairie habitat for the butterfly.

The Minnesota Zoo, DNR Parks and Trails Division, US Fish and Wildlife Service and The Nature Conservancy have formed a unique conservation research partnership to save the Dakota skipper and other endangered prairie butterflies in Minnesota. Funding was awarded to the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources and the Parks and Trails Legacy Fund.

“Helping these butterflies return to our fields not only supports other wildlife, but our quality of life,” said Dr. Eric Runquist, a butterfly biologist at the Minnesota Zoo. “Our hope is to build on the successes and rebuild the population throughout the region.”

Minnesota Zoo Pollinator Conservation Initiative He created the world’s first breeding and breeding programs for the Dakota skipper (and Poweshik skipperling) to save those butterfly species from extinction.

The zoo raises hundreds of Dakota beetles at the facility each year, then releases those individuals and pursues rehabilitating lost individuals. Wildlife biologists study wild butterflies and their habitats to assess their status and the threats they face.

“It started in 2012 and has done groundbreaking work over the past several years to ensure a future for some of our state’s most vulnerable pollinators,” said Cale Nordmeyer, a butterfly conservationist at the Minnesota Zoo. “Together with our partners, we are doing critical work for some of the world’s most endangered butterfly species.”

Glacial Lakes State Park was established in 1963 to preserve the area’s rolling prairies, relatively pristine terrain, and rich prairie vegetation. It is home to 69 different species of animals that have been designated as having outstanding conservation needs – most of which are associated with prairie habitats.

Learn more about this project on the Minnesota DNR website and about the Dakota Chief USFWS website.

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