OTTAWA, Jan. 18, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Canadian Wildlife Federation (CWF) is hopeful that more Canadians will join Monarch Butterfly conservation efforts now that the species is formally listed as Endangered.
“Recovery is within reach, but it will take a united approach that includes all levels of government, Indigenous stewards of reserves, corporations, conservation organizations, schools, agricultural producers, faith and cultural communities, homeowners, gardeners, and citizen scientists in order to give the Monarch a bright future,” says Carolyn Callaghan, CWF senior conservation biologist, terrestrial wildlife.
The federal government formally listed the species as Endangered in December of 2023. The listing now provides the species with legal protection on federal lands. The government will also develop a strategy that will outline the steps required to recover the species. This is a significant action that CWF applauds. The recovery strategy will guide and encourage conservation action by thousands of Canadians.
Within Canada, Monarchs range from Prince Edward Island to British Columbia. Monarch caterpillars feed only on milkweed, so the Monarch breeding range is restricted to where the 14 species of milkweed grow.
Canada has partnered with Mexico and the US to recover Monarch and is responsible for improving the quantity and quality of breeding habitat within the Canadian range, which means supporting efforts to retain current habitat and restore additional meadow habitat.
To address the significant threat of habitat loss, CWF has established rights-of-way networks across eastern and southern Ontario and partnered with agricultural producers, roadside and energy transmission managers, municipalities, and conservation authorities to create meadow habitat for Monarch and all pollinators. The objective is to carry this initiative across the entire country to create the Canadian pollinator pathway. The public can help support Monarch by providing nectar-rich native wildflowers throughout the growing season– including milkweed species native to the area.
Monarchs Need the Right of Way:
- In the past four years, CWF and its partners have restored 1,760 hectares of pollinator habitat in Ontario with a special focus on rights-of-way.
- CWF developed a set of tools to guide best practices for roadside maintenance and hosts the Canadian chapter of the Rights of Way as Habitat Working Group.
- CWF is expanding its Monarch conservation efforts in southern Quebec and is reaching out to partners.
- CWF will be releasing a framework for a national native seed strategy this spring to help ensure the availability of native plants for habitat restoration. This work has engaged hundreds of people across the country and has implications for building a green economy for Canada.
- CWF has developed an Ontario Monarch ambassador program to uncover Monarch migratory routes and roosting areas. Important roosting sites occur along the shores of Lakes Huron, Erie, and Ontario.
- CWF encourages Canadians to add their Monarch and Milkweed observations to iNaturalist.ca.
- CWF has a wildlife-friendly gardening certification program and many educational resources.
- CWF advises the public not to rear Monarch caterpillars other than the occasional individual for education purposes, as this activity may spread disease and impact the ability of these butterflies to navigate to their wintering range.
For more information, visit HelptheMonarchs.ca
About the Canadian Wildlife Federation:
The Canadian Wildlife Federation is a national, not-for-profit charitable organization dedicated to conserving Canada’s wildlife and habitats for the use and enjoyment of all. By spreading knowledge of human impacts on wildlife and the environment, carrying out actions to conserve and restore species and habitats, developing and delivering conservation education programs, advocating for changes to government policy and programs, and co-operating with like-minded partners, CWF encourages a future in which Canadians can live in harmony with nature. For more information, visit CanadianWildlifeFederation.ca.
Media and Community Relations Officer
Did You Know?
- The Monarch Butterfly in North America is known for its long migration. Beginning in late summer, Monarchs west of the Rocky Mountains make their way to coastal California to overwinter, while Monarchs east of the Rockies head to central Mexico. The health of the eastern population is estimated each February in the overwintering grounds in central Mexico by measuring the number of hectares occupied by trees containing Monarchs. Stay tuned for the 2024 count results.
- In spring, eastern Monarchs make their way to Texas to lay their eggs, where the weather can impact survival rates and the number of Monarch that make it to breeding habitat in Canada.
- Climate change is impacting Monarchs. More frequent and severe storms during migration impact survival rates and in 2002, a severe storm in the overwintering grounds killed approximately 75 per cent of the eastern overwintering population.
- There are 1.4 million kilometres of rural roads in Canada. On either side of these roads is up to seven metres of width that could be restored as pollinator habitat.
- There are about 6.2 million lawns in Canada. Converting just one-quarter of each lawn would equal around 14,400 hectares of habitat for pollinators.
- Monarchs are often confused with other butterflies, such as Viceroy, Painted Lady and Red Admiral. That’s one of the reasons why posting to iNaturalist.ca and having observations verified is important.
For more information, visit CanadianWildlifeFederation.ca
Photos accompanying this announcement are available at: