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DNR Works to Grow Wisconsin’s Monarch Population: How You Can Help

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced Friday that it is looking for volunteers to partner with it in the effort to regenerate a vital part of the Midwest ecosystem: pollinators.

MNR is specifically asking residents of Wood, Portage, Adams, Juneau, Waushara, Marquette, Waukesha, Milwaukee, Walworth, Jefferson and Washington counties to collect milkweed seeds for harvest. These seeds must come either from the properties of the volunteers, or from their neighbors (with authorization).

Milkweed will be planted to help regrow the breeding ground for the migratory eastern monarch butterfly population that has declined by 80% over the past 20 years, officials said.

“We try to plant local native seeds, including milkweed, in established and new grasslands to help pollinators like monarch butterflies and the federally endangered Karner blue butterfly,” said Tim Holme, biologist from DNR conservation.

Wisconsin is also home to the endangered rusty-spotted bumblebee and 16 other at-risk pollinators.

“Collecting milkweed seeds is a great opportunity for the public to help sustain Wisconsin’s grasslands and pollinators for generations to come,” Holme added.

According to MNR, seeds collected from volunteers will be replanted as natural habitats for monarch butterflies in several state natural areas in the Central Sands and Southern Kettle Moraine regions of Wisconsin as part of a regrowth initiative.

How to help:

  1. Collect: The DNR requires you to only harvest seeds in the counties listed above. Officials say milkweed pods that are ready to harvest will be brownish or gray-green and likely have leaves that die or drop off. Volunteers must leave behind one pod for every ten collected to help with regrowth.
  2. Contain: After collecting seeds, volunteers should put them in dry and breathable places like brown paper or feeding bag. Bags should include county, nearest address/road or latitude and longitude of collection site.
  3. Deliver: Seed bags can be stored in the side door of the kiosk or in the designated bin at the collection headquarters to protect them from the weather. Volunteers should contact designated MNR officials to inform them afterwards.

The collection points will be open from September 1 to 30:

  • Central Sands Region: Adams, Marathon, Marquette, Portage, Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara and Wood counties
    • Friendship Ranger Station, 532. N. Main St., Adams, WI
    • Necedah Ranger Station, 400 Birch Street, Necedah, WI
    • DNR Wisconsin Rapids Service Center, 473 Griffith Ave., Wisconsin Rapids, WI
    • Plover DNR Ranger Station 2510 Maple Drive, Plover, WI
    • Wisconsin Dells Ranger Station 1242 River Road, Wisconsin Dells, WI
    • For questions, contact Tim Holme at [email protected] or 608-403-6243
  • South Kettle Moraine: Milwaukee, Jefferson, Walworth and Waukesha Counties
    • Havenwoods State Forest, 6141 N. Hopkins St., Milwaukee, WI
    • Hausmann Nature Center at Lapham Peak, W328 W846 County Road C, Delafield, WI
    • Kettle Moraine State Forest Southern Unit Headquarters, S91W39091 WI-59, Eagle, WI
    • For questions, contact Emily Helm at [email protected] or 262-470-0267