Target: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Goal: Insist on the re-growth of grasslands that are a major feeding source for the monarch butterfly
Conservationists are concerned about the severe decline in the number of monarch butterflies that completed their annual southern migration to a Mexican forest. Wildlife officials are attributing the decrease in population size to extreme weather and altered farming practices in North America. Urge the U.S. Department of Agriculture to restore the grassland reserves that provided milkweed as a source of nutrients for the butterflies.
Due to the multitude of monarchs, individual butterflies cannot be counted, so officials use the total size of the colonies in the census. Reports indicate that this year’s migration numbers are the lowest they have been in two decades. Mexico’s National Commission of Natural Protected Areas performed a census in December 2012, which estimated a 59 percent decline compared to the 7.14 acres of butterflies measured the previous year.
Fluctuating weather patterns are among the reasons for this decline; however, an even more startling source is apparent. Chip Taylor, director of Monarch Watch, explains how the sudden increase of American farmland is eradicating a major feeding source for the butterflies by implementing genetically modified crops. By using herbicide-tolerant crops, farmers have developed a way to remove milkweed plants, thus destroying the monarch’s major food source.
The forest in Mexico that is used as a natural sanctuary for the butterflies has been significantly depleted from 50 acres down to 2.94 acres. Usually if monarchs encounter odd weather patterns, such as a cold snap or intense heat, they are able to recover fairly well. However, if the forest drops below 2.5 acres, recovery could prove to be quite difficult.
Omar Vidal, leader of a Mexican wildlife group, states that Mexico has already extinguished illegal logging practices and instructs that now is the time for the U.S. to do its part. Urge the U.S. Department of Agriculture to reinstate the milkweed plants that are a major feeding source for monarch butterflies.
Dear U.S. Department of Agriculture,
The most recent census conducted shows that populations of monarch butterflies are dwindling. The migration pattern of the butterflies extends from Canada all the way south to a forest in Mexico. Along the way, they are able to regain their strength by feasting on the milkweed plants, growing among the crops in the Midwest.
However, farmers are using new methods to grow their crops which has eliminated the milkweed plants in the process. Since 2007, more than 25 million acres of farmland in the U.S. has devoured the existing grassland and conservation reserve that provided the butterflies with sustenance. Therefore, I urge you to restore the grasslands that are a major feeding source for monarch butterflies so their phenomenal migration can continue to flourish.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Jane Kirkland via Flickr