MADISON – Monarch butterfly populations have dropped more than 80 percent over the last 20 years in the eastern U.S., and a new statewide consortium has formed to reverse the decline in Wisconsin.
The Wisconsin Monarch Collaborative includes more than 70 stakeholders representing agriculture, transportation, utilities, public and private land management, research, education and government, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
The state strategy will focus on increasing monarch habitat, namely through increasing native milkweed and nectar plants.
“This is an all hands-on-deck effort,” said Owen Boyle, the Department of Natural Resources species management section chief and DNR’s lead representative for the Wisconsin Monarch Collaborative.
Monarchs breed in Wisconsin and 15 other Midwestern states in the spring and summer and native milkweeds are the only plants on which monarchs will lay their eggs, according to the DNR. In Wisconsin, as elsewhere, habitat loss is considered the main threat to pollinators, including monarchs. Monarchs face special challenges as the distance increases between the remaining suitable habitat patches along their 2,000+ mile migration route between their breeding grounds in the Midwest and their wintering grounds in central Mexico.
Photo courtesy Jay Watson.