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Monarchs and Threatened and Endangered Species

September 14, 2016

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On September 9th, 2016, an Illinois Department of Natural Resources Monarch Summit was held in Springfield, IL with three goals in mind: 1) to build shared understanding of state-wide, existing and needed Monarch related activities, 2) to establish a mixed stakeholder-regulatory hub for state-wide Monarch conservation, and 3) to develop foundations for sector-specific action plans and establishment of an new Monarch Task Force. This new Illinois Monarch Summit was the first of many to come, including monthly Task Force meetings, following suit from other states that have adopted Monarch butterfly conservation strategies (e.g. Missouri and Iowa). Waterborne’s Lead Hydrologist, Dr. Daniel Perkins, attended the Illinois Monarch Summit and will participate in the Task Force.

As of August, 2014, the monarch butterfly has been petitioned to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a threatened and endangered species. Much of the survival and productivity of the Monarch is linked to over-wintering conditions in Mexico; however, the Monarch also migrates from Mexico to Canada during its life cycle, funneling through the Midwest. During its migration, it relies on very specific plants, including certain milkweed species for a food source (more commonly thought of as a weed). There is concern that habitat and food sources for the Monarch during migration are insufficient to ensure survival of the species. An ongoing assessment by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services will make a determination of listing status sometime in mid-2019, as it relates to U.S. efforts to maintain and secure habitat and food sources for the Monarch. Listing of the Monarch butterfly as a Threatened and Endangered Species would have widespread implications on Midwest agriculture, with possible restrictions on production agriculture management practices and land use that are linked to food security.

A few articles on the Summit can be found here: