Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
The Mitchell's satyr butterfly occurs in fens, an unusual wetland type characterized by calcareous soils fed by carbonate-rich water from seeps and springs. Draining these areas or converting them to agricultural and urban uses has depleted habitat supporting the butterfly. Its rarity and dramatic markings also make it prized by collectors, and thus vulnerable to overcollection.
This species gained Endangered Species Act protection with the publication of a final listing rule on May 20, 1992. A recovery outline was completed in July, and a recovery team was appointed in September. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement personnel patrolled sites frequented by the butterfly during the 1991 flight season, and increased those patrols in 1992 to eliminate illegal collecting. In addition, an informal section 7 consultation began with the Federal Highway Administration. Under discussion is a U.S. Highway 31 project in Berrien County that may cross important Mitchell's satyr habitat. The site was surveyed intensively by Michigan Department of Transportation contractors to determine the species' micro-habitat needs. Data from those studies are being analyzed. In addition, Habitat Conservation Plans are being developed in conjunction with private landowners whose properties contain butterfly habitat.
Development and implementation of a recovery plan is a critical need for this species, as is the acquisition and management of Mitchell's satyr habitat. Recovery needs include protection from collectors and vandals, pollution prevention, population monitoring, and stabilization of the water system sustaining the species' habitat.
The Nature Conservancy: The Conservancy's private landowner registration program encourages owners to manage land for the benefit of rare habitats and the species inhabiting them. This includes calcareous fens supporting Mitchell's satyr populations. The Conservancy also has acquired Mitchell's satyr habitat. It monitors the species at these and other locales. A mark-recapture study was conducted in 1992 to determine population numbers.
Plan under development.