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Environment

Collaboration Aims To Save Monarch Butterflies

by Britt E. Erickson
February 16, 2015 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 93, ISSUE 7

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) has teamed up with the nonprofit wildlife conservation groups National Wildlife Federation and National Fish & Wildlife Foundation in an effort to save the declining monarch butterfly. The number of monarchs has dropped by about 90% over the past 20 years because of pesticide overuse, climate change, habitat loss, and other factors. The public-private collaboration aims to rebuild lost habitats by planting native milkweed and other nectar-producing plants, the primary food source for these butterflies. FWS will kick in a total of $3.2 million. Of that, $1.2 million will provide funding for monarch conservation research. Private and public donors are expected to match the $1.2 million. The remaining $2.0 million will be used immediately to fund habitat rebuilding projects. The Center for Food Safety, an advocacy group, says the amount invested is significantly less than what would be required if monarch butterflies were protected under the Endangered Species Act. The group is also disappointed that the campaign fails to address the overuse of herbicides in conjunction with genetically engineered crops as a major factor in the decline of monarch habitats.

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