Jeer: FWS declines to protect Monarch butterflies


Despite the severe declines in the monarch butterfly population and a finding by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that the species does warrant protections, they will not be listed under the Endangered Species Act.

FWS announced in December that “adding the monarch butterfly to the list of threatened and endangered species is warranted but precluded by work on higher-priority listing actions.”

In other words, FWS sent the monarchs to wait in line behind more than 100 other species the agency said needs prioritizing.

Jeers to the agency for passing up a chance to protect this key pollinator. We hope the new administration will review the monarch’s plight with fresh eyes and see the priority in listing them quickly.

The Eastern population of monarchs has declined from 384 million in 1996 to 60 million in 2019. The Western population in California is even worse decline, with populations dropping from 1.2 million in 1997 to fewer than 30,000 in 2019.

Monarchs are pollinators who rely on milkweed in their caterpillar stage to thrive. But climate change, habitat loss and pesticide use have affected milkweed growth and the ability of the species to survive.

While FWS said it will review the monarchs status every year for a possible ESA listing, there is not time to waste.

“I really don’t think that monarchs can wait indefinitely for protection, “ Sarina Jepsen of the Xerces Center for Invertebrate Conservation to told NPR.

We don’t think so either.

But while the agency is declining to help, there are steps all of us can take to help the monarchs including planting milkweed in your backyard.