Monarch Butterflies in the News

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It's important to note the species has not been officially designated as endangered

On Thursday the International Union for Conservation of Nature announced they’d added the monarch butterfly to their list of endangered species.

It’s important to clarify that this is not an official U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service designation on the Endangered Species List. The story, however, is a perfect example of how critical grassland habitat is for sustaining iconic wildlife like quail, pheasants, prairie grouse, pollinators and monarch butterflies.
 
For the purpose of clarity, here’s the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services current position relative to monarch butterflies and Endangered Species Act listing:
 
“In December 2020, after an extensive status assessment of the monarch butterfly, we determined that listing the monarch under the Endangered Species Act is warranted but precluded at this time by higher priority listing actions. With this finding, the monarch butterfly becomes a candidate for listing; we will review its status each year until we are able to begin developing a proposal to list the monarch.”
 
Is the monarch federally protected now?

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife statement continues — “No. Our 12-month finding does not protect monarchs under the ESA at this time. We first must propose the monarch for listing as either an endangered or threatened species, gather and analyze public comments and any new information, and using the best available science, make a final decision and publish a final rule. That process is deferred while we work on higher-priority listing actions.”

The monarch population has decreased dramatically since the 1980s, largely due to a loss of breeding habitat — the same grassland cover upland birds also require as nesting and brood habitat. There’s a direct link between monarch butterfly populations and the health of grassland bird species, and this designation highlights how grassland habitat loss is influencing the plunge in all grassland-dependent wildlife populations.
 
Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever are helping restore this critical grassland habitat through our work with local farmers and ranchers, within our advocacy efforts in Washington, D.C., and via our pollinator programs like Milkweed in the Classroom.
 
In fact, milkweed plants (critical to every life stage of the monarch butterfly) are an integral part of the seed mixtures we plant — to date, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have improved 210,894 acres of pollinator habitat and planted over one billion milkweed seeds.  Yes, we’ve planted ONE BILLION MILKWEED SEEDS benefiting monarch butterflies. 
 
Through these grassroots efforts, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever hope to help preserve the monarch butterfly and keep them off the official U.S. Fish & Wildlife Endangered Species List, while simultaneously creating high quality upland bird habitat.
 
Learn more about our efforts to improve habitat for pollinators.