Bobcat, Nevada - Photo Credit Tim Torell

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News

WAFWA Approves Western Monarch Butterfly Conservation Plan

The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) has adopted a conservation plan for monarch butterflies that range across seven western states. The plan was adopted on Jan. 5 at WAFWA’s mid-winter meeting, held this year in Tucson, Arizona. The newly adopted Western Monarch Butterfly Conservation Plan establishes population size and habitat conservation goals, strategies, and actions for the monarch butterflies that overwinter along the California coast and range primarily across California, Arizona, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Utah.

Along with the Mid-America Monarch Conservation Strategy adopted in June 2018 by the Midwest Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the Western Monarch Butterfly Conservation Plan is designed to secure the future of the species range-wide. The Western Monarch Population Initiative Council will oversee implementation of the plan. The Council will include the directors, or their designee, of the seven states within the western portion of the monarch range, a member of the WAFWA Executive Committee, and up to seven ex-officio members representing key sectors and agency partners.

The monarch butterfly is an iconic species in North America and its annual migration cycle is one of the most remarkable natural phenomena in the world. However, over the past 20 years, the monarch butterfly population has declined by more than 80 percent throughout much of its range. Several other pollinators have experienced similarly dramatic declines in recent decades. Habitat loss for breeding and foraging is a primary threat to many of these species. Since January 2018, WAFWA member states have been leading an effort to develop a strategy to enhance and conserve monarch populations west of the Rockies. University and non-governmental partners interested in monarch and pollinator conservation are also involved in the effort.

“This conservation plan is a great opportunity for WAFWA and the member states within the range of the western population of monarchs to work collaboratively with our conservation partners,” said Bill Van Pelt, WAFWA Grassland Coordinator.  “Developing a regional conservation plan will not only benefit monarchs and other pollinators, but all wildlife species that depend on healthy, diverse grassland habitats. Over the years, we have learned by working with industry and landowners we can identify solutions to keep working lands in production while conserving wildlife at the same time.”

The Western Monarch Butterfly Conservation Plan sets both population and habitat objectives. The population objective is to achieve a 5-year running average by 2029 of 500,000 monarch butterflies counted at 75 sites with the highest counts during the Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count. That would represent a near doubling of the 2017 population estimate. Habitat-related goals include creating an additional 50,000 acres of monarch-friendly habitat in California’s Central Valley and adjacent foothills, and by 2029 establishing protection and management for 50% of all currently known and active monarch overwintering sites, including 90% of the most important overwintering sites. It is envisioned that the plan will be updated every five years with additional goals based on progress and information available at the time.

Achieving these goals may be more attainable in the Western population range than the Mid-American population range because a large portion of habitat in the Western range is public land. Conservation elements include a system to track implementation efforts identified in the Western Monarch Butterfly Conservation Plan and transition milkweed data into WAFWA’s Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool. With this information accessible on-line, land managers will be able to identify and prioritize areas for monarch and other pollinator conservation efforts.

Link to:  Western Monarch Butterfly Conservation Plan

Media contact: Bill Van Pelt
602-717-5066
bill.vanpelt@wafwa.org

WAFWA news releases available at www.wafwa.org/news/         

Photo Credit - Oklahoma, Jena Donnell

Since 1922, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) has advanced conservation in western North America. Representing 24 western states and Canadian provinces, WAFWA’s reach encompasses more than 40 percent of North America, including two-thirds of the United States. Drawing on the knowledge of scientists across the West, WAFWA is recognized as the expert source for information and analysis about western wildlife. WAFWA supports sound resource management and building partnerships at all levels to conserve wildlife for the use and benefit of all citizens, now and in the future.

 

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Posted by WAFWA at 1/22/2019 10:04:00 PM
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