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Deadline extended for endangered species determination of monarch butterflies

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The monarch butterfly has been the official State Insect of Texas since 1995. The U.S., Canada and Mexico are hosts to the monarchs’ multi-generational migrations that cover thousands of miles. There has been increasing concern as monarch numbers have shown a long-term downward trend.

In August 2014 the Center for Biological Diversity and the Center for Food Safety, the plaintiffs, filed a legal petition requesting Endangered Species Act, ESA, protection for the monarch and its habitat. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, FWS, fws.gov/savethemonarch, began a status review and in 2016 agreed to make a determination by June 30, 2019.

In a press release dated May 24, 2019, the FWS announced an extension to that deadline saying, “In an agreement approved by the court, the deadline to determine whether the species warrants federal protection has been extended to December 15, 2020.” They said the plaintiffs agreed to the extension and that it “allows the Service to focus additional effort on obtaining the best available science, including data from the latest overwintering surveys.”

Charlie Wooley, FWS acting Midwest Regional Director said, “Conservation of the monarch and other at-risk species is a Service priority. Properly assessing the status of the monarch butterfly is a vast and complex undertaking. It involves significant data collection and analysis across a huge swath of North America… Regardless of the decision, we are committed to conserving the monarch butterfly. Monarchs, bees and other pollinators perform a crucial function that sustains ecosystems and puts food on our tables.”