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Mowing snow for wildlife at Flat River State Game Area

Mowing snow for wildlife at Flat River State Game Area
Mowed over area at Flat River State Game Area. Photo courtesy of Michigan DNR.
The Karner blue butterfly. Photo courtesy of Michigan DNR.

After snow covered the Flat River State Game Area, DNR staff mowed over the snow to benefit the federally endangered Karner blue butterfly. 

These pale blue, dime-sized butterflies can only be found in small pockets of savanna habitat where wild lupine grows in the open sunlight. Karner blues depend on lupine for survival, as females lay their eggs on the plant and emerging caterpillars feed on the leaves.

For Karner blue butterfly populations to thrive, the area must be periodically burned with fire or mowed to remove any large, woody species that may cast shade on the lupine. To protect the lupine and over-wintering egg clutches, mowing can only occur when at least 4 inches of snow has accumulated. 

This winter habitat management activity will produce flourishing habitat this spring and summer, which will host native wildflowers and fluttering insects and benefit game species like deer, woodcock and rabbits.

The Flat River State Game Area is located in Montcalm and Ionia Counties.

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