Wings of Hope: Butterfly Center Director Says Monarch Not Endangered; highlights conservation efforts


A monarch butterfly is seen during the Texas Butterfly Festival at the National Butterfly Center Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017, in Mission. (Courtesy picture)

The news that the monarch butterfly is now an endangered species may have been slightly exaggerated, at least according to the director of the local butterfly center in the Rio Grande Valley.

On Thursday, news outlets across the country reported that the monarch was now an “endangered” or “threatened” species, citing a report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

The IUCN announced in a press release on Thursday that the migratory monarch butterfly has entered its Red List of Threatened Species as Endangered, reporting a steep population decline of between 22% and 72% over the past 10 years. .

He blamed the threat of habitat destruction and climate change. Deforestation as well as legal and illegal logging have also contributed to the destruction of “substantial areas of butterfly wintering ground in Mexico and California,” according to the IUCN.

Pesticides and herbicides also kill butterflies and milkweed, which the IUCN says are the host plant that monarch larvae feed on.

Marianna Treviño-Wright, however, says there’s more to the story.

The executive director of the National Butterfly Center, located in Mission, said the North American monarch butterfly is not endangered and has not been identified as such by federal agencies that track populations of ‘wild animals.

“The monarch butterfly has not been listed as endangered in the United States or by US Fish and Wildlife,” Treviño-Wright said, adding that she fielded calls all day Thursday, when news of the IUCN endangered classification broke.

“…This (IUCN report) has no bearing on monarch conservation efforts anywhere in the world. All of this means that the IUCN has chosen to add the monarch to its Red List.

“They are not in danger anywhere. It is a globally secure species at present,” she added.

To be clear, the IUCN explained in its report that it listed the migratory monarch butterfly, which is a subspecies of the monarch butterfly, as endangered and not the monarch species itself. IUCN also highlighted conservation efforts with optimism.

“It’s hard to watch monarch butterflies and their extraordinary migration on the brink of collapse, but there are signs of hope,” said Anna Walker, a member of an IUCN butterfly-specific specialist group. and moths, in the release. “So many people and (organizations) have come together to try to protect this butterfly and its habitats.

“From planting native milkweed and reducing pesticide use, to supporting the protection of overwintering sites and contributing to community science, we all have a role to play in ensuring May this iconic insect make a full recovery.”

Outlets such as the Associated Press have also stopped reporting that the species is definitely endangered and have acknowledged that US agencies have not listed the species, which disagrees with others. environmental groups.

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