Commission Agenda Item No. 2
Presenter: Ben Hutchins

Monarch Butterfly Update
May 21, 2015

I.             Executive Summary:  Wildlife Division staff will provide the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission with a brief overview of the current status of the monarch butterfly and planned conservation efforts by state and federal governments as well as non-governmental organizations to avert the need for federal listing under the Endangered Species Act.

II.            Discussion:  Since monitoring of overwintering monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) populations began in 1993 in the Mexican states of Michoacán and México, the World Wildlife Fund has documented a significant decline in overwintering area (a surrogate for population size) that reached an all-time low in the winter of 2013. Monarch decline has been attributed to multiple factors including illegal logging of Oyamel forests in Mexico, extreme weather conditions in overwintering and breeding grounds, and widespread decline in milkweed abundance in the United States. Concern about this iconic species by citizens, scientists, and state and national governments has resulted in a series of recent high-profile monarch conservation actions, including a petition to list the species as federally threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Furthermore a high-level, inter-agency working group has been created to address monarch conservation following an agreement between President Obama and his Canadian and Mexican counterparts during the North American Leaders Summit. Because of Texas’ critical position along the monarch migration pathway, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, represented by Executive Director Carter Smith, has a unique role in this interagency working group, which has been tasked with identifying U.S. priorities and actions for monarch conservation.