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if you should join the Habitat Conservation Plan Partnership.
resources and information for current HCP Partners.
about the Wisconsin Karner blue butterfly recovery program.
to help the Karner blue butterfly through surveys or landowner partnerships.
Contact information
For more information, contact:
Becky Roth
Karner Habitat Conservation Plan Coordinator

Karner blue butterflyFrequently asked questions

What are incidental take permits and habitat conservation plans?

When a non-federal land manager plans an activity that may inadvertently "take" (harass, harm or kill) a federally-threatened or endangered species, that land manager must apply to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for an incidental take permit. The incidental take permit application must be accompanied by a habitat conservation plan (HCP) that outlines a conservation program for avoiding, minimizing, mitigating and monitoring the take. An incidental take permit allows take at levels that do not threaten the long-term survival and recovery of the species.

What is the HCP partnership?

The Karner Blue Butterfly Habitat Conservation Plan partnership is a voluntary group of public and private land managers who are working together for the conservation of the Karner blue butterfly. The partnership has been instrumental in developing and overseeing the implementation of the plan over its entire lifespan, from inception to the current day. The success of this program and the success of the Karner blue in Wisconsin are largely due to the tireless work of this partnership.

Visit "Should I join the HCP partnership?" for more information.

How does the HCP partnership help Karners?

Karner blue conservation is compatible with many land uses in central and northwestern Wisconsin. In fact, long-term maintenance of Karner blue habitat requires the types of periodic clearing (e.g., mowing and logging).

HCP partners employ several techniques to protect Karner blues and their habitat. These include timing of mowing and herbicide applications to protect summer-flowering lupine and nectar plants, creation of dispersal corridors between Karner blue-occupied sites and maintenance of "shifting mosaics" on forest land. Shifting mosaics are arrangements of forest parcels, logged on a rotating basis to maintain Karner blue habitat.

Are there Karner blue HCPs in other states?

Yes, the Indiana HCP is between the USFWS and Northern Indiana Public Service Company. The Michigan DNR also has an HCP.

What is "take"?

Under the Endangered Species Act, take includes the attempt or action to "harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture or collect" an endangered or threatened species. Incidental take means that take is "incidental to, and not the purpose of, the carrying out of an otherwise lawful activity."

If I have Karner blues on my property, do I have to join the HCP?

Not necessarily. Small private landowners, farmers and foresters with less than 1000 acres generally do not need to apply for an incidental take permit. They are automatically covered by the statewide permit and may participate in Karner blue conservation voluntarily, free from regulation. This is the most innovative part of the HCP program.

Land managers in the Karner blue range whose activities include permanent habitat destruction (e.g., roadway or subdivision construction), right-of-way management or commercial forestry on more than 1,000 acres need to apply for an incidental take permit. In general, the easiest and least expensive way for these land managers to obtain incidental take permit coverage is to become a partner in the HCP.

Can Karners feed on lupine hybrids?

No, Karner larva feed only on wild lupine (Lupinus perennis). They will not feed on lupine hybrids like Russell lupine or other varieties. The hybrids of Russell lupine are garden varieties that show white, red, yellow and orange colors and are taller than wild lupine.

Why is the Karner blue butterfly so important?

Frequently, species become endangered because their habitats are diminished or degraded. The Karner blue butterfly is no exception. The Karner blue needs open oak savannas and pine barrens to live and these ecosystems have become increasingly rare in its natural range. Central and northwestern Wisconsin contains much of the Karner blue's last remaining habitat.

By protecting the Karner blue, we are protecting imperiled grassland ecosystems and many other rare species that depend on them, including the Kirtland's warbler, slender glass lizard, eastern massasauga rattlesnake, wood turtle, powersheik skipper, regal fritillary, yellow gentian and Hill's thistle. Ecosystem conservation helps maintain biological diversity and stable, resilient landscapes.

When can Level 1 wild lupine and Level 2 Karner surveys be done?

Surveys for wild lupine and Karners are extremely time dependent. Level 1 surveys for wild lupine--the Karner's larval host plant--can be conducted typically from late May through the end of July. Level 2 surveys for adult Karners include three site visits with at least two of the three visits occurring during the second flight of the season (refer to the Karner blue emergence model for annual flight predictions). For additional information on surveying, refer to the HCP Appendix E – HCP User's Guide.

Will my project affect Karners?

To determine if your project will affect Karners, please review the Karner blue Screening Guidance [PDF]. We also recommend requesting an Endangered Resources Review early in your planning process if your project is in the high-potential range. The review will also identify any other rare species that may be of concern. 

What if my project cannot avoid permanent take of Karner habitat?

Wisconsin's HCP provides an option for compensatory mitigation of occupied Karner habitat when avoidance is not possible and when the habitat will not be replaced within five years.

If the occupied areas cannot be avoided and permanent take is anticipated, a mitigation plan, which must be approved by the DNR and the USFWS, will be developed. HCP partners are required to complete the Habitat Replacement Plan Template for Major Construction Projects [PDF]. Mitigation will be encouraged to take place on recovery properties where long term Karner blue management is committed.

Note: Mitigation is required for all permanent take. Partners are encouraged to begin coordinating with the DNR early in their process. 

What is a major construction project for HCP partners?

Major construction projects are those short term take activities that will impact greater than one-third of the lupine in one occupied lupine area that is separated from other lupine areas by greater than 500 meters (a different subpopulation) that will be restored within five years, or permanent take activities that involve loss of occupied lupine habitat that will not be replaced or restored within five years.

What is a minor construction project for HCP partners?

Minor construction projects are those activities that will impact less than one-third of the lupine in one occupied lupine area that is separated from other lupine areas by greater than 500 meters (a separate subpopulation). Minor projects are anticipated to result in a small amount of area disturbed. Examples include repair of existing pipelines, stump removal and ditch repairs.

What is the HCP User's Guide?

The HCP User's Guide is found in Appendix E of the HCP document. It contains guidelines and protocols for HCP partner activities as well as HCP monitoring protocol.

Last revised: Wednesday April 25 2018