Despite a 99% decline over the past 40 years, western butterflies have been denied the listing of endangered species.
Fewer than 2,000 western monarchs were counted in California this fall, but in a long-awaited decision, the United States government recommends not designating them as an endangered species. As an iconic and beloved pollinator, critically endangered, the monarch cannot wait.
Data from the Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count, led by The Xerces Society, shows the population has fallen below 10,000 for the first time, compared to millions in the 1980s and 300,000 just five years ago.
Dan Hoare, Director of Conservation at the UK charity Butterfly Conservation, said: “The western monarch’s population is collapsing and the numbers in California’s wintering areas are at record lows. Restoring this species requires habitat restoration efforts on a continental scale and reduces habitat loss, intensification of agriculture and the use of pesticides that are causing this species to become extinct. The monarch butterfly has seen enormous declines and guarantees protection under the Endangered Species Act. At a time when the world is waking up to the devastating decline in insects around the world, the weakening of the legislation protecting them is a disaster that undermines much-needed conservation efforts.
Monarch, Copyright Glyn Sellors, from the Surfbirds Galleries
“This is a species that roamed the western United States millions of times a few years ago. We know from the success of our conservation work on endangered butterfly and moth species in the UK that these declines are not inevitable – we can act now to save species before it’s too late. Let’s not let the monarch become the next passenger pigeon and follow it to extinction. “
The eastern monarchs, known for their 3,000-mile migration to central Mexico, are also in trouble. Their number has decreased by around 80 percent over the past 40 years.
It is not too late to reverse this devastating decline of the natural world, but everyone must do their part. Help us save species from extinction.