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Monarch Butterfly at Risk of Extinction

Monday, February 27, 2017 9:48
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(Before It's News)

Cornucopia’s Take: Monarch butterfly
populations are in decline, down 80% since the 1990s. Loss of
habitat and the increased use of pesticides, including Roundup,
have taken an enormous toll. Organic farmers do not use Roundup and
the spirit of organic agriculture encourages care of wildlife. You
can help by buying food from organic farmers and by planting
organic milkweed and other plants the butterflies depend on.

Monarch Butterfly Population Drops By Nearly

target="_blank">Center for Food Safety

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Source: ""
target="_blank">Peter Miller

Iconic Butterfly Has Declined by More Than 80 Percent in
Recent Decades

The annual overwintering count of monarch butterflies released
today confirms butterfly numbers fell by nearly one-third from last
year’s count, indicating ongoing risk of extinction for America’s
most well-known butterfly. Scientists report that this year’s
population is down by 27 percent from last year’s count, and down
by more than 80 percent from the mid-1990s. This year’s drastic
decline is attributed in part to more extreme winter storms that
killed millions of monarchs last March in Mexico’s mountain forests
where 99 percent of the world’s monarchs migrate for the

“The monarch butterfly is still in really big trouble and still
needs really big help if we are going to save this beloved orange
and black wonder for future generations,” said Tierra Curry, a
senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. "more-22814">

A recent study by the U.S. Geological Survey concluded that
there is a substantial probability that monarch butterflies east of
the Rockies could decline to such low levels that they face
extinction. Researchers estimate the probability that the monarch
migration could collapse within the next 20 years is between 11
percent and 57 percent.

“In addition to threats from more frequent and harsher weather
events, monarchs are still severely jeopardized by the
ever-increasing pesticides used with genetically-engineered crops
destroying their habitat,” said George Kimbrell, senior attorney
for Center for Food Safety. “We will continue to do everything we
can to ensure monarchs have a future.”

The butterfly’s dramatic decline has been driven in large part
by the widespread planting of genetically engineered crops. The
vast majority of U.S. corn and soybeans are genetically engineered
for resistance to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, a potent killer of
milkweed, the monarch caterpillar’s only food. The dramatic surge
in the use of Roundup and other herbicides with the same active
ingredient (glyphosate) on Roundup Ready crops has virtually wiped
out milkweed plants in Midwest corn and soybean fields.

In the past 20 years it is estimated that these once-common,
iconic orange-and-black butterflies may have lost more than 165
million acres of habitat — an area about the size of Texas —
including nearly a third of their summer breeding grounds. Logging
on the monarch’s Mexican wintering grounds is also an ongoing
concern. Scientists have also identified threats to the monarch
during the fall migration including lack of nectaring habitat and


Found throughout the United States during summer months, most
monarchs from east of the Rockies winter in the mountains of
central Mexico, where they form tight clusters on trees. Scientists
from World Wildlife Fund Mexico estimate the population size by
counting the number of hectares of trees covered by monarchs.
Monarchs need a very large population size to be resilient to
threats from severe weather events, pesticides, climate change,
disease and predation. A single winter storm in 2002 killed an
estimated 500 million monarchs, roughly five times the size of the
current population.

Concerns over the extinction risk of the monarch led the Center
for Biological Diversity, the Center for Food Safety, the Xerces
Society and renowned monarch scientist Dr. Lincoln Brower to
petition the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2014 to protect the
butterfly as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The
Service is now conducting a review of its status and must decide on
protection by 2019. In Canada, the Committee on the Status of
Endangered Wildlife has recommended that the Canadian government
list the monarch as an endangered species. Monarch butterfly
migration is now recognized as a “threatened process” by the
International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

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