The United States Federal government may add the Monarch Butterfly to the endangered species list. This is a response to a petition filed by Center of Biological Diversity. The agency will complete a one-year status review on the monarch species, which have declined in the last 20 years by ninety percent
Tierra Curry (senior scientist for Center of Biological Diversity) explained, “The Endangered Species Act is the most powerful tool available to save North America’s monarchs, so I’m really happy that these amazing butterflies are a step closer to the protection they so desperately need.”
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Protection for monarch butterflies
The petition was created a scientific and legal blueprint for launching a protection program for the monarch butterflies. Senior Attorney for Center for Food Safety George Kimbrel added that his group is grateful the agency took the initiative in a timely manner. The Xerces Society’s endangered species director Sarina Jepsen added, “We are extremely pleased that the federal agency in charge of protecting our nation’s wildlife has recognized the dire situation of the monarch. “Protection as a threatened species will enable extensive monarch habitat recovery on both public and private lands.”
Reasons for Monarch Butterfly decline
The overall decline of the butterfly can be attributed to the widespread planting of genetically engineered plants. A large portion of the crops were designed to resist Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. This herbicide was designed to kill milkweed which happens to be the monarch caterpillar’s only food. The surge in Roundup usage nearly killed all milkweed plants in the corn and soybean fields. The monarch butterfly’s decline can also be attributed to global climate change, urban sprawl, and other pesticides. Some scientists also predicted the monarch’s winter range in Mexico and large part of summer ranges may become unsuitable thanks to changing temperatures and drought risks.
Back in the mid-1990s, there was a recorded high of 1 billion butterflies, but just last winter there were only 35 million monarchs, the lowest number recorded.