Monarch butterfly count rises as conservationists warn of extinction

By Reuters

A tally of monarch butterflies wintering in Mexico rose to 56. 5 million this year from a record low of 34 million last year but conservationists said on Tuesday the increase was too slight to reduce the threat of extinction facing the insect.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said last month the popular orange-and-black butterfly may warrant federal Endangered Species Act protections tied to declines in cross-country migrations because of farm-related habitat loss.

Sarina Jepsen, endangered species director for the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, said scientists had predicted that favorable weather in the butterfly’s breeding grounds in the U.S. Midwest and elsewhere would result in more monarchs migrating to Mexico this year than the 56.5 million estimated this week by the Mexican government and that country’s chapter of the World Wildlife Fund.

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