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Parks Canada, Calgary Zoo work to conserve butterflies in Waterton Lakes

Parks Canada will contribute $289,000 over three years for the project

Parks Canada is contributing $289,000 towards the conservation of the endangered half-moon hairstreak butterfly population at Waterton Lakes National Park.

In a release on Wednesday, Parks Canada announced it was working with Calgary Zoo as part of a three-year project to conserve and restore the butterflies, which are small brown butterflies listed as endangered.

A grassland area in Waterton Lakes National Park is the only known location within Alberta where the butterflies are found. They are found at another eight locations in British Columbia,

“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,” said a joint press release.

“The project will also support the collection of genetic material to assess the possibility of wild-to-wild trans-locations 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.”

President and CEO of Calgary Zoo, Dr Clément Lanthier said the zoo was proud to be bringing its scientific expertise to a good cause.

“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.”

Minister of Environment and Climate Change, and the Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Jonathan Wilkinson said that protecting Canada’s biodiversity was a way to address the impacts of climate change.

“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.”

READ MORE: Historic ranches, waterfront, trapline part of B.C.’s latest park expansion
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