The Missouri Department of Conservation is encouraging Missourians to share their comments on a conservation plan of the Midwest Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies to help save monarch butterflies.
MAFWA, of which MDC is a member, is taking public comments on its draft "Mid-America Monarch Conservation Strategy" through May 31, according to an MDC news release.
For more information, a copy of the draft conservation plan, and how to submit comments, visit bit.ly/2IC6weV.
According to MAFWA, eastern monarch numbers have declined by more than 80 percent over the past 20 years. This decline is primarily due to habitat loss, including reduced numbers of milkweed plants that monarch caterpillars feed on, and fewer nectar plants that migrating monarchs feed from. State wildlife agencies, including MDC, are planting milkweed to create more monarch habitat, but officials said more work is needed.
The draft plan builds on these and other existing efforts of state, federal, and local agencies, along with private organizations and individuals. It covers a 16-state region stretching from Texas to the Upper Midwest that encompasses the primary production and migratory habitat areas for eastern monarchs — including Missouri.
The draft plan identifies conservation goals and strategies for improving monarch habitat on natural areas, agricultural lands, urban lands and other areas. The plan focuses on habitat restoration and enhancement, but also includes education and outreach, research, and monitoring needs related to monarch conservation.
"In addition to their beauty, monarch butterflies are an important native species when it comes to much of the food we eat," MDC Private Land Services Division Chief Bill White said in the news release. "One out of every three mouthfuls of food and drink we consume depends upon pollinators such as butterflies, bees and other species."
He added the Mid-America Monarch Conservation Strategy is the first phase of a long-term strategy to help save these pollinators.