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Wildlife officials seek protection for butterflies

SIOUX FALLS (AP) — Federal wildlife officials are proposing threatened or endangered species status for two Upper Midwest butterflies in the wake of rapid population declines.

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to publish its proposal to protect the Dakota skipper and the Poweshiek skipperling in Thursday’s edition of the Federal Register.

The service’s Georgia Parham says the species are threatened by degradation or changes to their tallgrass prairie habitat.

The Dakota skipper is disappearing from areas of South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota and Canada.

The Poweshiek skipperling was once found in eight states and Canada. It now occurs only in a few native prairie remnants in Wisconsin and Michigan, and in Manitoba, Canada.

The Fish and Wildlife Service has one year to decide whether to give the species protected status.