Recently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced that the
Endangered Species Act Listing for the monarch butterfly was “warranted, but precluded” by work on higher-priority listing actions.
With this decision, the monarch becomes a candidate for listing, and its status will be reviewed each year until it is no longer a candidate. In the case of the monarch butterfly, the USFWS states that they plan to propose the monarch for listing in fiscal year 2024 if the listing is still warranted (as prioritized by the National Listing Workplan).
ESA and Habitat
Trump’s administration finalizes the “new” Endangered Species Act before the end.
On December 20, 2020, USFWS defines habitat under ESA: “Habitat is the abiotic and biotic setting that currently or periodically contains the resources and conditions necessary to support one or more life processes of a species.” This definition prohibits the federal agencies from designating areas that are not currently occupied by the species as habitat and would further ecosystem restoration improvements to become suitable habitat. It would also prohibit federal agencies from protecting areas that could become important habitat for rare species under climate change.
Another finalized rule allows USFWS to exclude areas from critical habitat designations for endangered species if the critical habitat designation would cause negative economic impacts or harm national security or outdoor recreation opportunities.
We Can We Do?
“This scientific review of the population status clearly demonstrates that monarchs need our urgent support. Voluntary, proactive conservation is necessary, and this work goes beyond monarchs; by conserving monarchs, we benefit grassland habitats and countless organisms. This supports the delicate balance of biodiversity and helps mitigate the decline of many species, before they need ESA protections.” (Monarch Joint Venture)
Share knowledge to create habitat and educate the community about monarchs and pollinators. Help researchers better understand these trends. Report findings of citizen science to community science projects like Western Monarch Milkweed Mapper or Journey North. If you are able to document this behavior of monarch larva at the same site(s) on a weekly basis, we strongly encourage getting involved in the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project to keep a more detailed account of your observations.
Check out USFWS Questions and Answers: 12-month finding on a petition to list the monarch butterfly and watch for more updates on the USFWS monarch butterfly page. Find contact information for your House and Senate representatives to write them and express your opinion.
States have their Monarch Conservation Strategy
According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), the Natural Heritage Conservation “will continue to support the Wisconsin Monarch Collaborative to implement the twenty-year Wisconsin Monarch Conservation Strategy. That strategy seeks to enlist homeowners, farmers, utilities, and other groups in voluntarily adding native milkweed and wildflowers to their property, with a goal of adding around 120 million more native milkweed stems, along with nectar sources, to the Wisconsin landscape by 2038. Habitat loss is the primary driver for the 80 percent decline in the eastern U.S. population of monarchs that breeds in Wisconsin during the summer.” (WDNR)
Mid-American Monarch Conservation Strategy
(Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin)
Western States Monarch Conservation Plan
(California, Arizona, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Utah)