The US government may add the Monarch butterfly to the Endangered Species list following a massive 90% drop of its population.
RT reports: US Fish and Wildlife Service announced on Monday it would conduct a one-year status review of the Monarch butterfly to determine if they are warranted protection under the Endangered Species Act.
The agency is requesting scientific and commercial data through a 60-day public information period and they’re looking for data on the insects’ biology, range and population trends, habitat requirements, genetics and taxonomy, distribution patterns, population levels, life history, thermos-tolerance, and conservation methods.
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The Center for Biological Diversity said the population has declined from a recorded high of approximately one billion Monarch butterflies in the mid-1990s to only 35 million butterflies last winter, the lowest number ever recorded.
The agency review comes in response to a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity, the Center for Food Safety, and the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation to list the subspecies of monarch (Danaus plexippus plexippus), who argue might be necessary.
The Center for Biological Diversity said the decline is driven in part to the widespread planting of genetically engineered crops in the Midwest, where most Monarchs are born. The vast majority of genetically engineered crops are made to be resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, a potent killer of milkweed, the monarch caterpillar’s only food.
In addition to herbicide use they say Monarchs are also threatened by global climate change, drought and heat waves, other pesticides, urban sprawl and logging on their Mexican wintering grounds. Scientists have predicted that the Monarch’s entire winter range in Mexico and large parts of its summer range in the states could become unsuitable due to these threats.