Story by Scott Sturkol on 07/09/2019A pair of Butterfly Field Days are planned at Fort McCoy in late July to provide people with an understanding of the unique habitat on post that allows for rare species to flourish.
The first field day will be 1-4 p.m. July 26 at Sparta-Fort McCoy Airport and is for installation community members only. The second field day, which is open to the general public and the Fort McCoy community, is July 27, with the first session from 9 a.m. to noon and the second session from 1 to 4 p.m.
Up to 35 people can attend each session. People interested in participating in the field-day sessions must reserve a spot by calling the Permit Sales Office at 608-388-3337 during regular business hours.
"This is an opportunity for people to learn much more about the rare butterfly management that is occurring on the installation," said Tim Wilder, longtime post wildlife and endangered species biologist and chief of the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch.
"This includes a presentation followed by a bus tour that will include the opportunity to possibly to see some rare butterflies, such as the Karner blue, regal fritillary, and the ottoe skipper, along with many more common species," Wilder said.
Wilder said the field days, most importantly, will help raise awareness about endangered species and their habitat.
"The populations of many pollinators, including butterflies, are declining throughout their ranges," Wilder said. "Fort McCoy is home to one of the largest remaining populations of the federally endangered Karner blue butterfly.
"Fort McCoy is also home to three species of butterflies that are currently undergoing status reviews by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine if they require protection under the Endangered Species Act," he said. These species are the monarch, frosted elfin, and regal fritillary butterflies. Fort McCoy also has the only remaining population of ottoe skipper butterflies in Wisconsin.
The ottoe skipper butterfly is a Wisconsin endangered species that is also declining throughout its range, Wilder said.
Field day participants are encouraged to dress for the field and to bring binoculars, cameras, and butterfly field guides, if they have them.
"People should be prepared to have some fun," he said. "This is the first time we are doing this, and it should be enjoyable for those that attend. This event also will provide a unique opportunity for people to learn about these rare butterflies, along with the possibility of seeing and photographing them. The event will occur rain or shine."
(The Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch contributed to this article.)