Stakeholders gathered for the first-ever Monarch Butterfly Summit in Washington, D.C. last week to discuss the latest science and conservation actions being taken to address the long-term population decline of the western monarch butterfly. During the meeting, the Department of Interior announced that it will award $1 million to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Monarch Butterfly and Pollinators Conservation Fund and that FWS will create the Pollinator Conservation Center to amplify the conservation efforts. Staff will work across all agency programs and regions and also with other agencies and organizations as a hub for improving the state of science and the direct conservation actions that can reverse population trends. In the 1980s, more than 4.5 million monarchs overwintered along the California Coast. Currently, the western overwintering population has declined by more than 95%. In 2020, western monarch numbers dropped to all-time lows when only 1,900 overwintering monarchs were observed. In 2021, biologists and the public alike were greeted with the news that monarch numbers were heading in the right direction with approximately 250,000 monarchs estimated at overwintering groves along the coast of California. Officials who spoke at the Summit noted that there is “no single cause for the extreme multi-decade loss” and that conservation efforts should focus on an “all-hands-on-deck collaborative approach” to conserve the butterfly.
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