Monarchs still urgently need Endangered Species Act protection in the United States and extraordinary conservation efforts throughout North America.
The World Wildlife Fund-Mexico and the Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas (CONANP) announced today that monarchs in central Mexico occupied an estimated 2.83 hectares of forest during the winter of 2019-2020—a reduction of approximately 53% compared to last year, when monarchs occupied 6.05 hectares. Read more in English here, and in Spanish here.
It is clear from this announcement that monarchs are not recovering and still urgently need Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection in the United States and extraordinary conservation efforts throughout their range. Climate change, pesticide use, and habitat loss in both Mexico and the US continue largely unabated, and threaten both the eastern monarch population (which overwinters in Mexico) and the western population (which primarily overwinters in California).
The western population, whose numbers were reported recently, remains critically imperiled. This season’s Xerces Society’s Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count and New Year’s Count have revealed that the migratory monarch population which breeds west of the Rocky mountains continues to hover at less than 1% of its historic population size for a second year in a row, whereas this year’s eastern population represents approximately one-third of its historic size.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service will make a decision about whether to list monarchs under the ESA in December 2020. The best science recommends the eastern population needs to sustain an overwintering size greater than 6 hectares over many years. Clearly, the work to recover monarchs is far from over.
To restore monarch populations across North America and ensure these butterflies’ incredible migration continues, everyone can help make a difference. We recommend creating and protecting habitat, reducing or eliminating pesticide use, contributing to community science projects, and supporting other monarch conservation efforts.
At Xerces, we work with farmers, roadside managers, and communities across the US to protect, restore and manage habitat for monarchs. We have restored over a million acres for pollinators, including monarchs, at sites across the US. We also focus on the protection and restoration of overwintering sites in California and their migratory and breeding areas across the West.
To support monarchs in the West (west of the Rocky Mountains), please see savewesternmonarchs.org.