Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Fish and Wildlife starts Monarch Conservation Fund; species has lost 90 percent of numbers

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has started a conservation fund to save monarch butterflies, Sarah Gonzalez reports for Agri-Pulse, a Washington newsletter. The federal agency announced on Monday $3.2 million in funding to increase habitat for the monarch butterfly, whose numbers are estimated to have fallen by 90 percent in recent years after reaching 1 billion in 1996.

Increased use of herbicides, which have decreased the availability of milkweed, the butterflies' main food source, are to blame for a decline in numbers, said Dan Ashe, Fish and Wild director, Gonzalez writes. "In an effort to reverse the situation, FWS is providing $1.2 million to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, which will start the Monarch Conservation Fund to be matched by private and public donors. The fund will provide the first dedicated source of funding for projects working to conserve monarchs."

The conservation fund will be "dedicated to habitat restoration that will involve planting native milkweed and nectar plants," Eric Johnson reports for Reuters. "The Fish and Wildlife Service is putting up $2 million in addition to funds it previously allocated to monarch conservation efforts, including improving more than 200,000 acres (81,000 hectares) of habitat while supporting over 750 schoolyard habitats and pollinator gardens."

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