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Monarch butterflies classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature

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A MIGRATING MONARCH BUTTERFLY SITS ON THE BRANCH OF A TREE.
Reuters Photographer/REUTERS
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A migrating Monarch butterfly sits on the branch of a tree at the Rosario natural reserve in Michoacan state west of Mexico City in this November 29, 2001 file photo. The Mexican butterfly may hit future migrations after the cold killed about 250 million Monarch butterflies in central Mexico last month. REUTERS/Daniel Aguilar DA

In late July, monarch butterflies were classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The IUCN stated that climate change, droughts that limit the growth of milkweed, and wildfires are factors in the decrease in population. Some experts say that this classification is unnecessary.

In December of 2020, the monarch butterfly was threatened with extinction, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stated it did not meet the criteria for being listed under the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service assessed that listing the monarch under the Endangered Species Act was warranted, however with their findings and other priorities they declined to add it to the list. They have stated in their findings that they would continue to assess each year until they were able to develop a proposal to list the monarch butterfly as an endangered species.

Why were the monarch butterflies classified as endangered? Is a federal endangered listing of the monarch butterfly next? What type of milkweed is good to plant? Do the monarchs need saving? What can be done to improve monarch population growth? How can individuals help protect the monarch butterflies?

Guest: Andy Davis, assistant research scientist in the Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia, and author of the Monarch Science Blog

"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 833-877-8255, email thesource@tpr.org or tweet @TPRSource.

*This interview was recorded on Wednesday, August 17.

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