Western monarch butterfly totals in North America have been on the decline and have hit critically low levels, and now lawmakers are urging to protect them from going extinct.
Congressman Salud Carbajal and several other lawmakers recently wrote a letter to the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service urging the protection of monarch butterflies.
In the letter it is written in part:
"This essential pollinator faces growing threats from the loss of milkweed and habitat, global climate change, and disease. The most recent annual population counts show a decline of 85% for the eastern U.S. population that overwinters in Mexico and a decline of 99.9% for monarchs west of the Rocky Mountains, which overwinter in California."
In December, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced that although the monarch butterfly meets the endangered species criteria, it would not go on the endangered species list and instead would be put on a wait list.
The letter continues,"To ensure the monarch does not become the 48th species to go extinct while on the candidate list, we again urge the Service to make substantial investments in bold conservation actions that not only prevent the butterfly from further decline but also ensure long-term population stability."
A graph from the Xerces Society's Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count in 2020 shows that monarch numbers were at the lowest point recorded since the county started in 1997.
Locally, at the Pismo Beach Butterfly Grove, community members have also seen a decline in monarch numbers.
"From my first time here about four years ago, the branches were full of [butterflies] almost like grapes, now the branches are empty," Morro Bay resident Alex Marshall said.
Pismo Beach Butterfly Grove has also kept track of their monarch butterfly totals during peak season.
- 1990: 230,000 butterflies
- 2005: 23,000 butterflies
- 2019: 6,000 butterflies
- 2020: 188 butterflies
Whether you have balcony space or acres of land, wildlife experts say planting or growing milkweed can help the butterfly population grow and also help preserve the species.
Information on how to help preserve monarch butterflies can be found here.