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Habitat Critically Needed as Eastern Monarch Butterfly Population Drops

Washington, D.C. — The 2019 eastern monarch overwintering population numbers recently announced by the Mexican government through the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve and the World Wildlife Fund present us with a grim reality: monarch populations remain critically low. The good news however, is that last year’s population was large enough to allow this drop without moving the species to even lower numbers — like the ones reported in 2014. This has been made possible by the continuing aggressive conservation efforts of hundreds of citizens, volunteers and conservationists in North America, which are imperative if we want to see an improvement in the numbers.

“The eastern monarch butterfly populations are in serious trouble,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “If we want our kids and future generations to witness and experience this iconic species, we must immediately create more habitat for monarch butterflies — and that starts at home by planting regionally-appropriate native milkweed and nectar plants where we live, work, play, and worship. We urge all elected officials to take the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge and commit to restoring monarch habitat in their community.”

Anyone can help the monarch butterfly by:

  • Gardening for wildlife and replacing lawns with native milkweed plants (excluding coastal areas in California) that are the sole food source for monarch caterpillars and blooming wildflowers and shrubs for adult butterflies. Helping monarchs and other pollinators through gardening is a great substitute for social interaction in these times of quarantine, and it will also help to boost your immune system. Remember to reduce the use of pesticides!
  • Encouraging local leaders to join the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge, which supports habitat restoration, citizen science, environmental education and local policy change to benefit monarch butterflies.
  • Supporting the Monarch and Pollinator Highway Act and other state transportation programs for roadside habitat.
  • Calling on Congress to promote grassland restoration and enact a national “Sodsaver” program in the next Farm Bill. This will prevent the conversion of our native grassland habitats to croplands by making such lands ineligible for federal subsidies.

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More than one-third of U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. We're on the ground in seven regions across the country, collaborating with 52 state and territory affiliates to reverse the crisis and ensure wildlife thrive.

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