The monarch butterfly population might still stand a chance with a new influx of grants amounting to 3.3 million dollars announced on Monday for conservation efforts.
The monarch butterflies, once a flourishing and abundant population of over 1 billion, have seen their numbers decrease to little over 60 million in just the past two decades. Trying to address this worrying decline, the 3.3 million dollars in grants are bound to be invested in restoring approximately 33,000 acres of monarch butterfly habitat. The bulk sum is divided in 22 grants, announced by the U.S. National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. However, the grantees announced that the sum will be matched by another 6.7 million dollars.
The funds span the efforts of 115 applicants from over a dozen states. These are Washington, Texas, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Nevada, North Dakota, Nebraska, Michigan, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Arizona and California.
The funds will cover efforts to push the monarch butterfly away from the brink of extinction. Surely, there are still 60 million monarch butterflies still migrating from Mexico to the U.S. Yet, as 90 percent of the population has disappeared only in the past two decades, if the trend is left unchecked, we might witness an irreversible extinction.
As such, the largest grants, amounting to 250,000 dollars will be invested in restoring critical habitat for the black and orange butterflies, particularly with view to the migration corridors. In South Dakota and North Dakota, 1,000 acres of habitat are planned to be restored. In Iowa, another 7,000 acres will be restored or newly created along the migration corridors of the monarch butterfly.
Restoring habitat includes efforts to boost vegetation crucial for the butterflies. Thus, in Hidalgo County and in the Valley, the grantees are looking to boost native nectar plant, as well as milkweed. These plants are of extreme importance for the monarch butterfly. Milkweed, a wild plant that grows unattended, is not only their main source of nourishment, but also their resting place and where they lay their eggs.
Perhaps ironically, Monsanto is financing the conservation efforts with 1.2 million dollars. The insecticide created by the company, Roundup, is held by environmentalists as one of the main factors that contributed to the destroying of the natural habitat of the monarch butterfly.
As the numbers have dropped drastically, federal authorities are considering the inclusion of the monarch butterfly on the federal protection list.
Photo Credits: Flickr