WWF Statement on the Delay of Legal Protections for the Monarch Butterfly

This week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced that the Endangered Species Act listing for the monarch butterfly was warranted but precluded by the agency’s work on higher-priority listing actions. In response, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) issued the following statement from Leigh Henry, director of wildlife policy:

“It’s disappointing that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has denied these protections to the monarch butterfly, and we urge the incoming Biden Administration to revisit the "warranted but precluded" finding. WWF, among many other organizations, has noted an alarming decline over the last 20 years on the monarch populations.

“The migratory phenomenon of the monarch butterfly in North America is vast and complex, covering three different countries. In Mexico, monarchs are considered “under special protection” by its equivalent of the Endangered Species Act, allowing social, political, technical, and financial support for conservation from multiple sectors.

“Currently, Mexico’s monarch flyway is receiving much needed attention and resources given the importance of maintaining native flowers and pollinator corridors essential for the butterfly´s survival throughout its journey. It is important to also strengthen this practice in Canada and the United States, where maintaining its breeding sites with plentiful milkweed is essential. Further protections under the U.S. Endangered Species Act would help ensure the necessary steps are being taken to conserve this migratory species and would benefit other pollinators as well, whose services we depend upon for 75% of our food production.”