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First milestone passed in reintroducing endangered butterfly to Ontario park: University of Guelph

A mottled duskywing. Jessica Linton / University of Guelph

The University of Guelph says a project to help revive an endangered butterfly species, launched last year, has passed its first milestone.

Ryan Norris, an integrative biology professor at the University of Guelph, said nine mottled duskywings were seen at Pinery Provincial Park in Grand Bend over the last week.

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This is the first time the butterflies have been seen at the park on the shores of Lake Huron in three decades.

The school says a team including Norris reintroduced hundreds of mottled duskywings to the park last summer and the recent sighting means they survived through the winter.

“This is a really exciting milestone in our work,” Norris stated. “No one has ever successfully reintroduced a butterfly species in Ontario, so to see these individuals survive their first winter is fantastic.”

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The once-widespread butterfly species was placed on the endangered species list in Canada in 2012 as its habitat began to vanish.

The park has been working to restore its very particular habitat over the past few years and the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory also helped in the project.

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“We didn’t know how to rear mottled duskywings but the team (at the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory) was able to develop a captive rearing program that allowed us to bring 700 of them to the park last summer,” Norris explained.

If the butterfly species begins to develop in the park, a similar plan with be launched at Nature Conservancy of Canada in Norfolk County.

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