Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, November 30, 2017

Contact:  Stephanie Kurose, (203) 524-0562,

100-plus Groups Urge Feds to Increase Funding to Save Monarch Butterflies

WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity and 101 other conservation organizations today urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Natural Resources Conservation Service to substantially increase funding for monarch butterfly conservation and habitat restoration.

In the past 20 years, the population of these once-common butterflies has plummeted by more than 80 percent. Scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey say there is nearly a 60 percent chance the monarch’s spectacular, multigenerational migration could completely collapse within the next two decades. Biologists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are so concerned that in 2014 they concluded the butterflies may need protection under the Endangered Species Act.

“It’s heartbreaking that these magnificent orange and black butterflies that were once such a familiar sight are now declining toward extinction,” said Stephanie Kurose, endangered species policy specialist at the Center. “We need strong leadership from the Natural Resources Conservation Service if we’re going to save this beloved creature for future generations.”

The monarch population has been declining due in large part to the ubiquitous spraying of herbicides that destroy milkweed — the monarch caterpillar’s sole host plant and only food source. Because of the widespread use of glyphosate, commonly called Roundup, on corn and soy, nearly 165 million acres of milkweed have been lost. Widely used neonicotinoid insecticides are also toxic to young monarch larvae.

Today’s letter notes that the cost of restoring 1 million acres of milkweed per year would be $100 million based on the government’s own assessment of milkweed restoration costs. Spending just $100 per acre on restoration could substantially reduce the likelihood of monarch extinction. The letter points out that this amount of funding is not unprecedented for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which spent nearly half a billion dollars on a similar initiative to restore and conserve the sage grouse, thereby alleviating the need to protect the grouse under the Endangered Species Act.

“The Natural Resources Conservation Service needs to take effective action to save the monarch before it’s too late,” said Kurose. “A significant boost in funding to help this beautiful butterfly survive could not come soon enough.”

Monarch butterfly

Population graph

Photo by John Buse, Center for Biological Diversity. Images are available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.5 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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