The National Wildlife Federation has released a recent statistic the winter Monarch butterfly count has declined 14.8 percent.
The National Wildlife Federation, among other environmental groups, say this is a severe unintended consequence of green biofuels such as ethanol and a decline in the milkweed plant.
Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, said in a statement, “With monarch butterflies now down 90 percent in the last 20 years, we simply must do more if we are going to be successful in reversing monarch butterfly decline. The National Wildlife Federation will continue working with Americans and communities across our nation to plant native milkweed — the only plant that hosts monarch eggs and feeds their young — and other pollinator-friendly plants. We must continue working together to help save the monarch butterfly and reverse the overall trend of declining wildlife populations in the United States.”
The report details the 15 percent decline of butterflies is due to degradation of their Mexican forest habitat, the increased use of pesticides and other toxic chemicals, impacts from climate change, and — most importantly — the diminished amount of naturally growing milkweed in the U.S. Midwest, due to biofuel use as a result of the Renewable Fuel Standard. The Washington Post also reported in 2015 more than 1 billion butterflies have disappeared with an estimated 30 million remaining, citing concern from scientists the Monarch could be on the verge of extinction.
Former U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-California), coalition partner and one of the architects of the Renewable Fuel Standard in Congress, said in a new report, “These biofuels have no carbon emissions benefits, and are likely worsening our climate crisis.”
This issue hits hard at home, as Milkweed is a popular plant in the western Nevada region, as is the Monarch butterfly.
“Monarch butterflies are a very important flagship species,” said Julie Koop, director of the Nevada Monarch Society and biology teacher at Carson High. “Necessary conservation to help increase their numbers will help all pollinators. They are beautiful and with their migration behavior, very unique. I love teaching the high school students about wildlife and the importance of diversity in the ecosystems. We all need to share this world and take care of the environment, for our future.”
In an effort to aid the butterflies locally, the Nevada Monarch Society is urging the Carson community to plant native milkweed and register your habitat as a Monarch Butterfly Waystation at monarchwatch.org. The Monarch Society is also holding an event April 7 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., at the Greenhouse Project site at Carson High School. To learn more about NMS, visit www.nvmonarchs.org.
To learn more about the decline of Monarch butterflies, visit monarchwatch.org.