• Common Sense Conservation Since 1938
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To promote the conservation, sound management, and sustainable use of Indiana's wildlife and wildlife habitat through education, advocacy, and action.

Threats to Wildlife

Disease: White Nose Syndrome
Pollinator Decline
Habitat Loss: Endangered Karner Blue Butterfly


White Nose Syndrome

There are twelve species of bats that are known to be found in Indiana. Bats are an essential part of Indiana’s ecosystem. Bats regulate the populations of pest insects that destroy crops, saving farmers millions of dollars and reducing the use of pesticides on crops. 

Currently several bat species are facing what is now being considered one of the greatest ecological threats of this lifetime, White Nose Syndrome (WNS). Now more than ever it is important to do all we can to protect our bats.

WNS was first cited in caves in New York during the winter of 2006-2007 and quickly spread to caves in Northeastern United States. The disease has caused extreme decline in bats and has currently reached 25 states and 5 Canadian provinces.

White Nose Syndrome gets its name due to the fact that affected bats will have a white fuzzy growth on their nose, ears, and wings. The white fuzzy growth is caused by a fungus,Pseudogymnoascus destructans, and is believed to have been brought in by cavers and contaminated caving equipment. The fungus irritates the bats and causes them to arouse from hibernation and burn off fat reserves. 

Bats typically hibernate in caves and form large groups, called roosts. The declines in bat populations will likely have long term impacts because hibernating bats rely on these roosts to stay warm during the winter. There is currently a great deal of research being conducted to help assure the survival of bats. Due to the growing rate of this disease, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has closed public access to caves, sinkholes, tunnels, and abandoned mines on DNR-owned land. 

For more information from the DNR click here.

How can you help?

  • Stay out of caves and mines where bats are hibernating
  • Honor cave closures.
  • Follow the National WNS Decontamination Protocol to clean and disinfect clothes, footwear, and equipment used in caves or mines.
  • Report bats showing signs of WNS, and bats that are dead, dying, or appear diseased, to your state wildlife agency.
  • Help spread the word about WNS and the value of our bats.

For more information on WNS click here.

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Pollinator Decline

Pollinators are organisms that carry pollen from one flower to another. Flowering plants depend on pollinators in order to reproduce. The relationship between these plants and the pollinators is often mutually beneficial because the pollinators spread the pollen to other flowers while feeding on the nectar or pollen from the flower. These relationships are so important that many plants have adapted traits that make their flowers more attractive to pollinators, such as having brightly colored petals or having a sweet smell.

Currently many types of pollinators are experiencing declines which will in turn begin to affect the plants they pollinate. Several food chains are affected by the presence of these plants and the pollinators’ ability to help them reproduce. Futher decline of pollinators could greatly impact humans as well because so many of our crop plants require pollination.

Read more to learn about the types of pollinators that are experiencing the greatest declines and how you can help!

Bees 

Bees are the most important pollinators on the planet. All species of bees are adapted for pollination. Most species of bees pollinate several types of plants and bees are often the only pollinators for certain plants. Bees pollinate over two thirds of the world's crops and 85 percent of the world's flowering plants. A futher decline in bees could have devastating affects for humans and widlife.

Threats to bees include:

  • Habitat loss
  • Pesticide use
  • Overgrazing
  • Low genetic diversity
  • Introduction of nonnative pathogens

You can help bees in your yard by:

  • Planting native plants to provide pollen and nectar sources
  • Providing overwintering sites and nests
  • Mowing higher
  • Using the least toxic pesticides and herbicides and only using them as directed
    • Avoid use of systematic pesticides such as neonicotinoids

For more resources about how you can help bees click here!

Report hive sightings here!


For information about the decline of monarch butterflies, please visit our Monarch page


Karner Blue Butterfly and Wild Lupine

Photo by Paul Labus

The Karner Blue was once an abundant species of Photo by Paul Labus
butterfly in the northern regions of Indiana. Over the past 100 years, the species’ population has been reduced by 99%, placing this butterfly on the long list of endangered species in North America. The Karner Blue is suffering due to habitat loss and the slow disappearance of Wild Lupine, one of it's main habitat and food sources. The Karner Blue caterpillars are a specialist species which will only feed on Wild Lupine in order to grow. Accompanying the habitat loss brought on by land development, the Wild Lupine plants began to disappear, which took away the ability of Karner Blue caterpillars to feed and eventually evolve into adult butterflies.

There are a few ways to assist in the revitalization of this species:

  • Spreading awareness of the habitat degradation effecting Karner Blue butterflies in Northwestern Indiana

  • Planting Wild Lupine in your backyard or garden habitat to bring back feeding opportunities for Karner Blues

For more information on Karner Blue butterflies be sure to check this article from The Nature Conservancy!

 

 

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