For Immediate Release, March 31, 2020

Contact:

Stephanie Kurose, (202) 849-8395, skurose@biologicaldiversity.org

100+ Groups Urge Congress to Invest $100 Million to Save Monarch Butterfly

Monarch Population Has Fallen Below Extinction Threshold

WASHINGTON—More than 100 organizations today urged Congress to significantly increase funding to $100 million per year to help conserve monarch butterflies and their habitat.

This level of funding would cover the cost of restoring 1 million acres of milkweed and pollinator habitat per year and provide increased resiliency to threats from habitat loss, pesticides, severe weather and climate change.

Today’s letter notes that the most recent annual count of monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico — about 99% of all North American monarchs — showed a decrease of 53% from last year’s count. The decline is attributable to poor weather conditions during the spring and fall migrations.

Monarchs, which once numbered in the billions, have also lost an estimated 165 million acres of breeding habitat in the United States to herbicide spraying and development.

“If these iconic orange-and-black butterflies were to disappear, the world would be a much lonelier place,” said Stephanie Kurose, endangered species policy specialist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Monarchs have captured the hearts of Americans for generations. Their collapse would be devastating.”

The current state of the smaller western population of monarchs that overwinter in California is more dire than their eastern counterparts. The western population crashed by 99% in the latest count, reaching a historic low of fewer than 30,000 butterflies for the second year in a row, down from 1.2 million two decades ago.

Both butterfly populations are below the threshold at which government scientists predict the migrations could collapse. Federal scientists estimate there is nearly a 60% chance the monarch’s spectacular, multigenerational migration in the eastern half of the country could completely collapse within the next 20 years.

“Addressing COVID-19 is understandably Congress’s top priority right now,” said Kurose. “But the world is also locked in an unprecedented wildlife extinction crisis. Congress must step up to the challenge and help save one of the world’s most iconic butterflies from further decline.”

Joining the Center for Biological Diversity on today’s letter are groups such as the Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and the Endangered Species Coalition.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.