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California’s monarch butterfly population is “disturbingly low,” falling to 86 percent in 1 year: scientists

Researchers with an environmental group to label it as “disturbingly low” the number of western monarch butterflies, which migrate along the coast of California.
(AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

The population of western monarch butterflies in California coastal areas, is apparently taking a nose dive.

The researchers with the environmental group Xerces Society, together with volunteers, the state’s coastal areas each year, the number of wintering monarchs. The data offers scientists the best estimate of how well this beloved butterfly is doing,” the group said. This year, the society announced that at the beginning of the survey show the population is reduced to less than 0.5 [percent] of the historical size.”

The beginning of the count numbers, although not yet confirmed, are “disturbingly low,” the group said.

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The preliminary results are counted, are composed of 97 sites, including many of the most important wintering sites,” the group said. That sites good for 77 percent, or 148,000 of the royals in 2017. The following year, in 2018, the same areas had only 20,456 princes. This shows an 86 percent decrease since 2017, according to the society.

By comparison of the group in 1981 had more than 1 million western monarchs wintering in California, the San Francisco Chronicle.

“While wintering populations naturally fluctuate, even with double-digit percentages, but the size of this year’s decrease is of the greatest importance, because the frost of the population was already at a new low after the 97 [percent] decline, experienced since the 1980s, leading to a situation which may be catastrophic for the western population,” the Xerces Society said.

At this time, the researchers are not positive what the cause of the drastic decline, even though they “suspect occurred between the end of the winter season and the beginning of spring.” There is no substantial evidence of a delayed migration, and butterflies are not reported in other parts of the country.

That said, researchers said the state of the weather in the past year is a factor, citing severe drought and forest fires.

If long-term effects, the butterflies are threatened by pesticides, herbicides, and destruction along the migration route, scientists said, also noticing the consequences of climate change can be a factor.

A 2017 study of the Washington State University researchers found the species will probably become extinct in the coming decades if nothing is done to save it.

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“While western monarchs are faced with unprecedented challenges now, there is still hope that we can recover the population if we work quickly, strategically, and together,” the Xerces Society said in a statement, a list of different things individuals can do to help in the conservation of the species.

“What work we do to protect or restore the monarch-friendly habitat will also benefit many other pollinators such as bees and other butterflies, as well as many other wild and beautiful insects that are a cornerstone of ecosystems, and gives us a deep sense of connection with our natural world,” the group added.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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