'The Situation Is Desperate' for Monarch Butterflies
David Leveille - PRI's The World
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May 25, 2015

Monarch butterflies at the Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove in California (Sandy and Chuck Harris)

The United States, Canada and Mexico share borders and trade agreements, and now a new plan announced this week by the White House might have the three countries cooperating around butterflies and bees as well.


This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

The plan aims to reverse an alarming decline in the populations of butterflies, bees and other pollinators. American beekeepers lost 40 percent of their honeybee colonies last year, and the news is even worse for monarch butterflies. Over the past 20 years, the number of monarch butterflies that migrate south in winter to escape the cold, mainly to Mexico, has dropped by an estimated 90 percent.

“The situation is desperate,” says Karen Oberhauser, a conservation biologist with the department of wildlife and conservation biology at the University of Minnesota.

The stated goal of the bee and butterfly conservation plan is to restore and protect nearly seven million acres of habitat for these pollinating insects using a north-to-south corridor across the country. That will replace the land that's been lost to butterflies and pollinators due to pesticide use.

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