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Peak Time for Monarch Migration

PHOTO: The monarch butterfly is one of the species seen in Arkansas this time of year listed in a new report about plants and animals experiencing dramatic population declines. Photo credit: National Park Service
PHOTO: The monarch butterfly is one of the species seen in Arkansas this time of year listed in a new report about plants and animals experiencing dramatic population declines. Photo credit: National Park Service
September 26, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Arkansas is a popular stopover for monarch butterflies migrating south. Two monarch flyways converge on the state, and this is the time of year you're most likely to see monarchs roosting in yards and gardens. But the monarch isn't doing so well, according to a new report from the Endangered Species Coalition. The group's executive director Leda Huta says monarch populations have declined by more than 90 percent.

"The experiences we had and we may connect our memories to that's just not going to be, necessarily, part of what our children are going to remember about nature," Huta says.

Reasons for the decline of the monarch aren't entirely clear, although loss of habitat because of development and climate change are suspected. Researchers estimate there are about 33 million monarch butterflies this year, compared with more than a billion a few years ago.

The report features recommendations for everyone who cares, from making a call to Congress about reducing climate change pollution, or planting more native flowers, trees and shrubs in a yard, or even in a balcony planter. Huta says everyone can help.

"We still have hope," Huta says. "This is a call to action. We have opportunity right now to turn things around to ensure our children do get to see these species."

The report lists 10 species in decline: Monarch butterfly, mountain yellow-legged frog, North Pacific right whale, great white shark, little brown bat, whitebark pine, rusty-patched bumblebee, greater sage-grouse, polar bear and the Snake River sockeye salmon

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - AR