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article imageMonarch butterfly: Canadian towns to help endangered species

By Marcus Hondro     Jun 22, 2016 in Science
An American study released earlier this year said there is a possibility that the number of monarch butterflies could fall so low their migratory patterns will be disrupted. The study authors said that could lead to the Monarch becoming "quasi-extinct."
Save the monarch
However, individuals, organizations, communities and North American government agencies are working to prevent that. Just this week the Ontario community of Richmond Hill, near Toronto, has joined its neighbor, Markham, in developing initiatives to help the monarch.
As the York Region news publication reports, Richmond Hill, and Markham, have signed on to something called the Mayor's Monarch Pledge. It's been initiated by the U.S. National Wildlife Federation and its aim is to help the monarch proliferate.
What is hurtling the monarch toward "quasi-extinction" is the destruction of milkweed, the only plant the iconic, and beautiful, monarch, lays its eggs on and the main food source for Monarch larva. Milkweed has declined rapidly and dramatically, with as many as one billion milkweed plants wiped out.
One reason for all the destruction is Roundup Ready, a plant and weed-killing product from Monsanto Chemicals, used by farmers and homeowners for decades. Round-up Ready makes food crops invulnerable to chemicals but kills milkweed, without which monarchs can't survive.
Re-introducing milkweed
Municipalities across North America are encouraged to sign on and "commit to create habitat and educate citizens about how they can make a difference at home." All over North America milkweed is being reintroduced and with the numbers of monarchs dwindling by about 90 percent the past two decades, environmentalists argue it's a program long overdue.
The monarch's importance to our food chain can't be overstated. "Three quarters of the food that we eat depends on pollinators like monarch butterflies," the mayor of Markham, Frank Scarpitti, recently said.
"Markham has an important role to play in educating the public and supporting monarch habitats in our city parks, community gardens, natural spaces, municipal facilities and public lands." he added.
Richmond Hill's council voted unanimously to sign on to the pledge and the town will be putting effort and money into planting milkweed and educating the public about how individuals can take part in resurrecting the monarch butterfly.
The recent study on the monarch comes from researcher John Pleasants at Iowa State University. He says he found there is an "11 to 57 percent chance" the monarch population will fall lower enough that its migratory pattern will be disrupted.
Pleasants added that an "all-hands-on-deck" attitude is needed to save the species.
More about Milkweed, Monsanto, roundup ready, Monarch butterfly
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