Farmers, landowners, conservationists and citizen groups are making steady progress promoting the conservation of monarch butterflies and expanding habitat.

A report recently released by the World Wildlife Fund and the Mexican National Commission of Protected Natural Areas shows an urgent need for expanded implementation of conservation action to improve the monarch’s North American population, according to the Keystone Policy Center news release.

The survey showed overwintering monarch butterflies covered 2.91 hectares of forest in December 2016 compared to 4.01 hectares the previous year.

There was a decline of nearly 27 percent in the number of eastern monarch butterflies migrating to Mexican forests compared to the previous year.
Monarch butterflies face a wide array of challenges, including loss of habitat and lack of access to milkweed and nectar resources.

Monarchs also face threats from weather and climate, predators, pathogens and parasites and declining winter habitat in Mexico that collectively contribute to the overall population decline, according the news release.

Prolonged drought in Texas also made the migration difficult for the monarch. Since the rain has returned to Texas, however, there is more milkweed than butterflies.

Farmers, landowners and other citizens in the Monarch Flyway are making progress toward the current goal of creating or restoring significant acreage of monarch habitat in the U.S.

“Farmers and ranchers know from experience that responsible stewardship of the environment and sound business practices are not mutually exclusive,” Ryan Yates, director of Congressional Relations at the American Farm Bureau Federation, said. “Efforts to expand voluntary conservation programs supported through innovative public-private investments will help to accelerate establishment of monarch habitat.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is conducting a review of monarch butterflies under the Endangered Species Act.

The service has until June 2019 to determine whether or not to list the species, which provides farmers limited time to implement effective voluntary conservation efforts.