The colorful Monarch butterfly has long time been an icon throughout the United States, but the last twenty years have seen a severe drop in their numbers, prompting activists to petition for granting the species federal protection. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service revealed that it is starting a status review of the Monarch butterfly population following an appeal from conservation activist. The reevaluation will take-up a year and assess if the butterflies should list under the Endangered Species Act.
The popular colorful Monarchs are threatened by pesticides spreading and habitat decline. Milkweed plants which are the butterflies’ single sustenance source are decreasing in numbers with the use of herbicides for different crops.
Numerous Monarch butterflies travel 3,000 miles from Mexico to Canada during their seasonal migration period. They usually breed in in Western states like California, Oregon or Washington throughout all seasons except winter. Nevertheless they mostly reside in Midwest and Northeast.
As indicated by the insect preservation group The Xerces Society the number of Monarch butterflies dropped by 90% since the 1990s. The Society was one of the groups that requested Endangered Species ranking. According to the lobbyists Roundup herbicide might be one of the main causes of the population’s demise. The plant protection substance is frequently used on genetically engineered corn and soybean harvests.
Sarina Jepsen, representing The Xerces Society said research shows that the species lays four times more eggs on milkweed plants and for that reason the plants that usually develop on croplands are an essential part of the butterflies’ habitat. According to her the milkweed is vanishing at a phenomenal rate. Jepsen recommended farmers that want to help to plant milkweed on their lands is they have local species around their location
Fish and Wildlife Service representative Brett Lawrence announced that the status review will establish if the threats alleged by conservation groups are as serious as to rank the species as a protected one. During the flowing two months the federal agency will be gathering data from the general public regarding the issue.
Brett Lawrence said that the agency is in need of more recent data that can be provided by both researchers and regular citizens. The information will help the service reach a conclusion regarding threats and shifts in migration habits.
The organization requires data about species ‘variety and living space prerequisites, as well as figures regarding historical and present day population. Also, any suggestions regarding conservation activities are welcomed.
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