The monarch butterfly will remain off the list of endangered species, but authorities will continue to monitor the populations. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) issued a “warranted but precluded” decision to leave the species off the list for federal protection. Acknowledging that populations are on the decline, USFWS indicated the monarch will remain a candidate for inclusion under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
“We conducted an intensive, thorough review using a rigorous, transparent science-based process and found that the monarch meets listing criteria under the Endangered Species Act. However, before we can propose listing, we must focus resources on our higher-priority listing actions,” USFWS Director Aurelia Skipwith said in a press release. “While this work goes on, we are committed to our ongoing efforts with partners to conserve the monarch and its habitat at the local, regional and national levels. Our conservation goal is to improve monarch populations, and we encourage everyone to join the effort.”
The petition to consider the monarch butterfly for the ESA was submitted by the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Protection and other conservation partners back in 2014. Monarch numbers in California have dropped from 1.2 million to less than 30,000 between 1997 and 2019. As a candidate species for protection under ESA, monarch populations will be reviewed annually. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall was supportive of the announcement, noting that the agricultural community will do what it can to help struggling monarch populations.
“Farm Bureaus across the country have been involved with state and regional planning efforts for the monarch – joining forces with the energy and utility sectors, those who manage natural areas, and our urban hubs across the country – to meet ambitious goals for the species,” said Duvall. “The warranted but precluded decision will give all stakeholders time to continue conservation and research efforts.”