Growing concern about declining pollinator populations, honeybee health issues, and honey and crop production has led Dane County and the State of Wisconsin to develop a pollinator protection plan. Pollinators include bees, butterflies, flies and other insects, hummingbirds, and in tropical regions, bats. Managed honeybees and wild, native bees are responsible for an estimated 35% of global crop production.
Pollinator declines may be due to a number of causes: pests, pathogens, habitat loss, nutritional deficiency, insecticide exposure, and extreme weather events (e.g., drought or winter cold). There are several Wisconsin pollinators known to be rare, threatened or in decline, including the monarch butterfly, the Karner blue butterfly, and the rusty-patched bumble bee. In 2014-15, Wisconsin suffered an annual honeybee colony loss greater than 60%.
A Dane County Pollinator Protection Task Force was formed over concerns about declining pollinator populations, honeybee health issues and the future of honey and crop production. The Task Force’s charge was to collect information on the local status of pollinators and develop recommendations for future pollinator protection efforts in the county. Specifically the group was asked to:
- Review current Dane County department practices that affect pollinator habitat and health;
- Communicate and collaborate with municipalities and other stakeholders in Dane County;
- Develop recommendations for departments to improve habitat for pollinators on county-owned land;
- Develop recommendations for citizens to plant pollinator-friendly habitats and guide pesticide use on private lands;
- Provide guidance for a long-term pollinator health strategy in Dane County.
This work was completed in September 2015 and the group’s final report provides details on the above items and also gives additional resources on pollinator protection. Pollinator Protection Final Report contains the detailed recommendations and resources.