Dec 292014
 

FWS agrees to conduct status review

The Fish and Wildlife will review the status of the monarch butterfly before deciding whether to propose listing it as threatened or endangered, the agency announced Dec. 29.

The 90-day finding, the first step the service takes in responding to listing petitions, will be published Dec. 31 in the Federal Register. (The notice was released for public inspection Dec. 30.)

In today's announcement, FWS said that threats to the butterfly "include habitat loss – particularly the loss of milkweed, the monarch caterpillar’s sole food source – and mortality resulting from pesticide use. Monarch populations have declined significantly in recent years."

Chrysalid and monarch (from monarch-power.com, a renewable energy company in Scottsdale, Ariz.)

The petition was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, Xerces Society and "renowned monarch scientist Dr. Lincoln Brower," the petitioners said in their own news release, which asserted:

The butterfly’s dramatic decline is being driven in large part by the widespread planting of genetically engineered crops in the Midwest, where most monarchs are born. The vast majority of genetically engineered crops are made to be resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, a potent killer of milkweed, the monarch caterpillar’s only food. The dramatic surge in Roundup use with Roundup Ready crops has virtually wiped out milkweed plants in Midwestern corn and soybean fields. In the past 20 years it is estimated that these once-common iconic orange and black butterflies may have lost more than 165 million acres of habitat — an area about the size of Texas — including nearly a third of their summer breeding grounds.

Monarch docket