Landowners asked to help in pollinator surveys

Pollinator on crocus

­­BISMARCK – Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring is asking North Dakota landowners for their help by allowing pollinator surveys to be conducted on their land. Surveys will provide data which may prevent future threatened and endangered species listings in North Dakota.

“Several species in North Dakota have been proposed to be protected under the Endangered Species Act, including several native pollinators,” Goehring said. “Complete data sets weren’t available when the Dakota skipper butterfly was listed, and survey work done following the listing indicates it may have been avoided had that information been available.”

Goehring indicated that without updated, high quality comprehensive data, the federal government is forced to make listing decisions based on outdated, incomplete and sometimes biased science. Listings may cause restrictions on management practices, including grazing restrictions, pesticide use restrictions, land conversion issues and more.

“The state needs a defensible position to push back when species are proposed to be listed under the Endangered Species Act,” Goehring said. “The best means to defend North Dakota is high quality comprehensive data.”

The North Dakota Department of Agriculture (NDDA), along with several partners, funded a statewide pollinator study in 2016. The study is a four-year project that aims to identify bee and butterfly species present in North Dakota and estimate abundance of these species.

The study is being performed by researchers from North Dakota State University (NDSU) and data collection began in 2017. The study consists of visiting three sites in every county, twice throughout the summer. At each site, researchers perform a variety of survey techniques.

Researchers are seeking private lands with the following characteristics on which to conduct pollinator surveys:

  • Native or restored prairie/pasture
  • Minimum size of 50 acres with a width of at least 200 yards
  • Less than a mile from an accessible and SUV-friendly road
  • Landowners willing to allow technicians access on their land two to four times during the summer (June, July and August)

Landowners willing to allow researchers to survey for bee and butterfly species should contact Jerry Sauter of the NDDA at jdsauter@nd.gov or Adrienne Antonsen from NDSU at adrienne.antonsen@ndsu.edu. Researchers will notify landowners of their intended visit before arriving, will be respectful of the property, opening and closing gates, and will remove all equipment after survey completion.

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MEDIA: For information, please contact Michelle Mielke at 701-328-2233 or mmielke@nd.gov.