There is good reason to be concerned about reports of worldwide pollinator decline. We owe gratitude to flower-loving birds, bats and bees every time we give a bouquet to a loved one, take a sip of orange juice, or put ketchup and mustard on our hamburgers. The plants that produce most of our favorite flowers, fruits, squashes, berries, seeds and nuts—including chocolate and coffee—need help from animal pollinators to set fruit and reproduce. Causes of pollinator decline include habitat loss and use of harmful pesticides on or near pollinator-attractive plants. Social insects like the European honeybee are also vulnerable to pests and pathogens that invade their colonies. To address these and other issues, the White House released a Presidential Memorandum in June 2014 that put pollinators on the agendas of all federal agencies.
Meanwhile, states, localities and industry are responding in myriad ways. In 2013 North Dakota became the first state to publish a statewide plan for pollinator protection that outlines voluntary guidelines for beekeepers, pesticide users, growers and land managers to minimize harm to pollinators. Other states are following suit. Wisconsin is currently developing a pollinator plan of its own. The project is a partnership between the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and the Gratton Lab at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. The goal of the pollinator plan is to provide educational materials for beekeepers, growers, pesticide users, homeowners and landowners who want to improve the health and habitat of managed and wild pollinators. We encourage input from Wisconsin stakeholders during the formulation of this plan, and will be holding stakeholder meetings in the summer of 2015. To receive email updates about this project, click here or contact Christina Locke at firstname.lastname@example.org.