WV Wildlife: Pollinator Summit

Summit participants learned and observed new farm equipment in action. (WCHS/WVAH)

They may not draw as much attention as some of our other wildlife here in the Mountain State, but pollinators are very important.

From bees to birds and butterflies to name a few, these small animals--by spreading pollen from one spot to another--help keep plants reproducing , many of which we enjoy as fruits and vegetables.

Unfortunately, though, pollinators world-wide have been declining.

That's why knowledge was shared and practices shown at a pollinator summit recently at WVU Jackson's Mill near Weston.

Susan Olcott, a regional wildlife diversity biologist with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, says the hope of this summit is to create better habitat for pollinators all across the state.

"There's a broad diversity of people here today--from industry, agriculture, agencies, non-profit groups--to help teach them how to do pollinator habitat, how to install pollinator habitat, what are the problems associated with it, what do you use?", said Olcott.

One of the most well-known pollinators and West Virginia's state butterfly is the Monarch, which may be federally listed by the middle part of next year. If enough conservation effort is put forth, though, this listing can be deferred by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"We're hoping it doesn't get listed. Contrary to what some folks might think, most wildlife officials don't like to see species listed because it means they are endangered, and that's not good". Olcott also went on to say that if it becomes listed, federal regulations and oversight would increase on West Virginia businesses to make sure they are abiding with certain rules and actions to try to help monarch habitat.

Marc Crouse, an environmental specialist with Toyota at the Buffalo Plant in Putnam County, says they've already been trying to enhance habitat for the Monarch and other pollinators, and are eager to learn more.

"So, the biggest thing that we hope to get from this conference is the ability to plant pollinator gardens successfully. Toyota is a very green-minded company; they focus on sustainability, so environmental biodiversity is important", said Crouse.

You can also help improve the habitat for our pollinators at home.

"If people want to get involved with pollinator conservation in the Mountain State, we have just published a website--WWW.WVMONARCH.ORG. If you don't have pollinators and the plants and the habitats, you lose all sorts of wildlife. One out of every three bites of food that we eat is thanks to a pollinator", said Olcott.

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