Monarch butterfly may land on endangered species list

A Monarch butterfly feeds on a Duranta flower Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, in Houston. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

There’s a little bit of good news for the Monarch butterfly. Initial estimates from their winter grounds suggest there are more arriving this year than last year.

That would appear to confirm evidence in these parts over the summer that there were more Monarchs around than in previous years.

But that’s not saying a lot. They’ve declined by 90 percent in the last 20 years, according to the Center for Biological Diversity, which today applauded a decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to consider adding the Monarch to the endangered species list. It will now conduct a one-year status review on Monarchs.

Twenty years ago, the Monarchs covered about 50 acres at their winter grounds in Mexico. Last year they occupied less than two.

At another winter grounds in Pacific Grove, California, a sanctuary spokeswoman says the number of Monarchs have increased this year.

They’re still arriving in Mexico, so an acreage number for comparison isn’t yet available.

Related: Efforts to Restore Monarch Butterflies’ Milkweed Habitats May Be Doing More Harm Than Good (KQED).

  • BJ

    Cool. But how would that work?

    • According to the Monarch Monitoring Project:

      Listing will make it illegal to intentionally kill monarchs or modify their habitat without a permit. Listing will also lead to designation and protection of “critical habitat” to help recover abundant monarch populations. Federal scientists will develop a recovery plan to guide efforts to restore long-term, healthy populations of monarchs. ESA protection will also bring much needed funding to monarch conservation efforts and will increase awareness of the monarch’s plight. It will make federal funding available to states to protect and restore monarch habitat.

      • Gary F

        Monarch “habitat” is almost every backyard in America. That’s giving the government a lot of unchecked power.

        • Veronica

          Hmm. What do you have planned that you’re worried about?

          I’m being very serious.

          • Gary F

            I’m not, but the government can declare any puddle in a farmer’s field as a ‘wetland”. It is very difficult to and expensive to fight the government over this. There are many stories of farmers going out of business over this.

            Government regulators wield great power, and are not elected and are generally not accountable. They can also use their power for political purposes, ask Lois Lerner.

            Monarch habitat could be defined and enforced even looser than a wetland.

          • Veronica

            They’ve gone out of business JUST over EPA regulations?

          • I’ll wait to see what the year-long study says.

          • Sam

            Yes, there are many stories of farmers going out of business over this. Granted, the only ones I can find are on non-journalistic, anti-government, pro-big-business websites, they don’t name names, and they don’t provide any actual support for their claims, but there are stories.
            If the government has declared any “puddles” as wetlands, please cite these cases.

            As far as the government gaining power over your lawns (more than it already has), yeah, it’s not going to happen just because a monarch butterfly stops in your flower garden. There are already a number of butterflies and insects that are endangered species. So far, I haven’t heard of the government disallowing people from mowing their lawns or anything like that. Now, if you buy a piece of prairie land and want to pave it for a skate park, that may be a different story.

  • Robert Moffitt

    Resolved for 2015: More bugs, less drugs.

    • Jack

      Love it!