On December 15th, 2020 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the monarch butterfly is warranted for listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). However, because of on-going work with higher-priority species, the Service precluded issuing an immediate proposed listing rule. With this decision the monarch is a candidate species for listing as a threatened or endangered species in 2024. Further, the USFWS will review the status of the monarch annually to determine if the proposed time line for listing needs to be modified.
The USFWS received a petition in 2014 from several organizations requesting the monarch butterfly be protected under the ESA. Following submission of the petition, the USFWS determined substantial information was available to determine whether or not the monarch should be listed as a threatened or endangered species. Since then, the USFWS evaluated the status of the monarch through a Species Status Assessment.
The purpose of the SSA is to identify the monarch’s current status; threats to the monarch; and current conservation efforts, including the proactive and voluntary efforts being undertaken through the Iowa Monarch Conservation Strategy. The USFWS uses the scientific information gathered from the SSA to determine if policy standards are met for an ESA listing. The SSA for the monarch butterfly can be found here and the listing assignment can found here.
The USFWS decision also recommends immediate conservation measures to support recovery of the species. These measures include intensifying breeding habitat restoration and enhancement efforts as outlined in existing conservation plan’s, including Iowa’s strategy; avoiding or limiting pesticide use; and following best management practices to avoid or limit exposure of all monarch life stages to insecticides.
To learn more about on-going conservation efforts in Iowa visit The Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium website. The Consortium, formed in 2015, is a partnership of agriculture and conservation organizations; companies; state agencies, including IDNR and IDALS; and ISU that is committed to enhancing monarch conservation through voluntary, proactive efforts.