Monarch Butterfly May Join Endangered Species List

By Patrick J. Kiger, Discovery News

Over the past 20 years, North America’s population of monarch butterflies has declined by a catastrophic 90 percent, a plight that may be caused by pesticides and loss of the once-vast acres of wild milkweed that are the creatures’ food source. But now with some fearing that the butterflies — many of which migrate 3,000 miles from Canada and the U.S. to Mexico — are in danger of vanishing completely, the federal government may finally intervene.

On Dec. 29, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it is launching a scientific review to determine whether the monarch butterfly should be protected by law under the Endangered Species Act, a 1973 law designed to protect species from becoming extinct.

The law not only bans the killing designated species or harming it in other ways, but it also requires federal officials to work with state and local agencies to come up with a recovery plan for restoring its numbers. Additionally, the federal government can protect habitat that’s critical to the species. Reuters reports that the review will take a year to complete.