Manitoba

Manitoba butterfly faces extinction

A research team is combing through tall-grass areas of southeastern Manitoba to find a small, brown butterfly that is at risk of becoming extinct.

Poweshiek skipperling on the decline in Canada, U.S.

Researchers from Canada and the United States are searching in southeastern Manitoba for the Poweshiek skipperling, a once-abundant butterfly species that could become extinct. 1:45

A research team is combing through tall-grass areas of southeastern Manitoba to find a small, brown butterfly that is at risk of becoming extinct.

Researchers with the Nature Conservancy of Canada, University of Winnipeg, University of Michigan and the Minnesota Zoo are hunting for the Poweshiek skipperling, a small, brown and orange winged butterfly no larger than a toonie.

Cary Hamel, the Nature Conservancy's conservation science manager, said there used to be hundreds of the butterflies in tall-grass prairie areas in Manitoba and in several American states.

"People didn't even bother counting them, they were so common in the past, and so we don't really have a baseline number," he told CBC News on Monday.

"But what we do know is that we don't seem to have more than about 200 individuals."

Hamel said why the Poweshiek skipperling population is shrinking is anyone's guess.

Today, the only spot where the butterflies have been seen is a small area in the southeastern part of Manitoba.

"Researchers are out there this week and so far, in its two week flight period, they haven't seen more than about 40 individuals. And that's the entire Canadian population," Hamel said.

The researchers plan to take the eggs and raise the butterflies in captivity so they can have a base population to work with.