Protection sought for plummeting monarch butterfly population

By Jean Bartlett, San Jose Mercury News

Recently two Ocean Shore Elementary School teachers, second grade teacher Fran Quartini and third grade teacher Sheila Gamble-Dorn, took their respective students on a field trip to the Monarch Butterfly Natural Preserve at Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz. This is an annual classroom visit for both teachers and each marveled at the sight of the beautiful orange, black and white-winged creatures who settled by the thousands in the Preserve’s grove of eucalyptus trees — a safe place for the monarchs to roost until spring. Each teacher also expressed strong concern over the protection of North America’s most well-known butterfly. Their concerns are warranted.

On August 26, 2014, The Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Food Safety as co-lead petitioners joined by the Xerces Society (a nonprofit organization that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat), and renowned monarch scientist Dr. Lincoln Brower, filed a legal petition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking Endangered Species Act protection for monarch butterflies. Their petition goes on to explain that the monarchs have declined by more than 90 percent in under 20 years. The petition additionally states that during that same 20 year period, these “once-common iconic orange and black butterflies may have lost more than 165 million acres of habitat.

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