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Monarch Butterfly May Gain Threatened Status

Jenna Iacurci - Nature World News
go to original
August 28, 2014

The number of monarch butterflies migrating annually to Mexico from US is depleting due to deforestation and herbicide. (Al Jazeera)

Monarch butterflies have declined by more than 90 percent since 1990, and conservationists fear that they could disappear from North America altogether if more isn't done to protect their habitats.

In a legal petition filed this week, conservation groups asked the Obama administration to deem the monarchs as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act.

"Monarchs are in a deadly free fall and the threats they face are now so large in scale that Endangered Species Act protection is needed sooner rather than later, while there is still time to reverse the severe decline in the heart of their range," Lincoln Brower, a conservationist who has studied monarchs since 1954 and who joined the petition, said in a press release.

These brilliant orange and black butterflies can be found throughout the United States, and make a spectacular migration each year from Canada to Mexico. But where they are getting hit hardest is in the Midwest.

Where there were once one billion of these butterflies in the mid-1990s, there are now only 35 million - the lowest their population has ever been.

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, who led the petition, widespread use of herbicides on genetically engineered crops is killing their only food supply - milkweed. Since the 1990s, American farmers have increasingly planted seeds that are genetically modified to resist herbicides like Monsanto's Roundup weed killer, a practice that in turn destroys milkweed.

Read the rest at Nature World News

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