February 15, 2014 in Nation/World

Monarch butterfly protection urged

Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

A Monarch butterfly sits on a tree at the Sierra Chincua Sanctuary in Mexico.
(Full-size photo)

MEXICO CITY – Dozens of scientists, artists, writers and environmentalists on Friday called on the leaders of Mexico, Canada and the United States to devote part of their meeting next week to discussing ways to protect the Monarch butterfly.

A letter to the three leaders signed by more than 150 intellectuals, including Nobel literature laureate Orham Pamuk, U.S. environmentalist Robert Kennedy Jr. and Canadian author Margaret Atwood , notes the Monarch population has dropped to the lowest level since record-keeping began in 1993.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, U.S. President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper are meeting in Toluca, near Mexico City, on Wednesday to discuss such matters as economic competitiveness, trade and investment, entrepreneurship and security.

The Monarch’s spectacular annual migration to spend the winter in Mexico is little understood. Experts blame the drop in numbers on several things: extreme weather trends, a dramatic reduction of the butterflies’ habitat in Mexico from illegal logging, and genetically modified crops in the U.S. displacing milkweed, which the species feeds on.

After steep and steady declines in the previous three years, the black-and-orange butterflies now cover only 1.65 acres in the pine and fir forests west of Mexico City, according to a report last month by the World Wildlife Fund, Mexico’s Environment Department and the Natural Protected Areas Commission. Monarchs covered more than 44.5 acres at their recorded peak in 1996.

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