We’ve seen progress on behalf of promoting the conservation of monarch butterflies and expanding their habitat, but improvement still needs to be made, says the Monarch Collaborative. The 2016-2017 overwintering population estimates done by the World Wildlife Fund and the Mexican National Commission of Protected Natural Areas show a decline of nearly 27 percent in the number of eastern monarch butterflies migrating to Mexico compared to last year.
“Farmers and agricultural producers are stewards of the land across much of the eastern monarch butterfly’s habitat — placing them in a unique position to support sustainable monarch populations,” said Ethan Mathews, Director of Public Policy for the National Corn Growers Association. “These new population numbers underscore the challenges the eastern monarch butterfly population faces — as well as the unique role agricultural stakeholders can play.”
The population survey results follow on the heels of an agreement between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service to provide farmers and agricultural producers with regulatory predictability under the Endangered Species Act as they implement practices to improve monarch habitat under some 2014 Farm Bill programs. The Monarch Collaborative hailed this agreement and urged farmers, ranchers, and land owners across Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wisconsin to utilize this opportunity.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is conducting a review of monarch butterflies under the Endangered Species Act. The Service has until June 2019 to determine whether or not to list the species — which provides farmers and agricultural stakeholders and other private landowners with limited time to implement effective voluntary conservation efforts.
“Farmers and ranchers know from experience that responsible stewardship of the environment and sound business practices are not mutually exclusive,” said Ryan Yates, Director of Congressional Relations at the American Farm Bureau Federation. “Efforts to expand voluntary conservation programs supported through innovative public-private investments will help to accelerate establishment of monarch habitat.”