Last 2,000 western monarchs left without protections

Even though we’ve lost between 80 and 99 percent of the monarchs in our skies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) recently refused to give them endangered species protections. It’s past time to protect the dwindling species.

Mary Katherine Moore

In just 40 years, America has lost 80 percent of eastern monarch butterflies, and close to 99 percent of western monarchs.

With monarch populations hitting drastic lows, these butterflies more than qualify for endangered species protections — yet the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) recently announced its refusal to grant monarchs the protections they deserve.

It’s a decision that isn’t right, and beyond that, it could lead to us completely losing monarchs.

From 1.2 million to 2,000 in 20 years

Monarch butterflies are one of the most beautiful creatures that flutter through our backyards, parks, playgrounds and fields. With their distinctive orange, black and white wings, they’ve become the world’s most recognizable butterfly.

But the twin threats of climate change and habitat loss have taken a dire toll on the butterflies — and extinction doesn’t look too far off: Just 20 years ago, there were 1.2 million western monarchs. Though not finalized, the latest annual autumn count of the western monarchs shows only 2,000 monarchs compared to last year’s 30,000. 

There used to be millions of monarchs in American skies, but now sightings are growing rarer and rarer. So rare, in fact, that monarchs more than meet the standards to receive endangered species protections under the Endangered Species Act.

But still, the FWS won’t give monarchs the protections they deserve.

Environment America is working to give monarchs species-saving protections

Right now, we’re in the middle of an extinction crisis as we say goodbye to species at an unprecedented rate. In the past century, we’ve lost more than 540 species, and we won’t stand by as monarchs join that list.

Endangered species protections can make all the difference. The ESA has a proven track record of protecting and preserving endangered species — saving more than 200 species from the brink of extinction.

Now we need the act to protect monarch butterflies. With endangered species protections, conservationists could build a comprehensive recovery plan for the butterflies, one that would lead to the preservation of their habitat and the planting of food that monarch caterpillars need to survive.

Before any of this can happen though, the FWS has to give them endangered species protection.

That’s why Environment America is helping to gather thousands of petition signatures, urging the FWS to do the right thing. 

Add your name to stand up for monarchs today.


Mary Katherine Moore