Despite a rapidly declining population and an important ecological niche, the U.S Fish and Wildlife service voted against listing the Monarch Butterfly as “Threatened” under the Endangered Species Act on Tuesday. A change in its status may have led to increased protective measures for the species and its habitat.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service said it will propose listing the Monarch Butterfly as threatened again in 2024 if is still warranted.

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“In the monarch’s current condition, the probability that the Eastern North American population will reach the point that extinction is inevitable, is less than 10% in the next ten years,” USFWS Assistant Regional Director for Ecological Services Lori Nordstrom said. “The western North American population has a much higher probability of 60%-68% of reaching that point due to current threats over the next ten years.”

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“Forty-seven species have gone extinct waiting for their protection to be finalized. This decision continues the delay in implementing a national recovery plan which monarchs desperately need,” said Center for Biological Diversity’s Senior Scientist Tierra Curry.

During the 1980s, it is estimated that as many as 3-10 million Monarch Butterflies would overwinter in California in Mexico. A recent study by the Xerces Society has noted that the number was at less than 2000 individuals this year. Xerces Society Executive Director Scott Black is hopeful that the Monarch Butterfly being denied protection under the Endangered Species Act will help encourage people to step up their own efforts to help the species.

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“One thing I think [the] warranted and precluded [finding] will do is potentially get more people to step up to protect the monarch,” Black said.

One thing you can do to help butterfly populations is to plant milkweed in your garden or on your balcony.

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“Milkweed is the only plant that monarch butterflies lay their eggs on and is the primary source of food for monarch caterpillars,” said Jode Roberts from the David Suzuki Foundation. “Scientists have identified milkweed planting as the most important action people can take to help support threatened monarch populations.”

Sign this petition to help save the Monarch Butterflies

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