Monarchs are a beloved creature, beautiful in their appearance and incredible in their ecology (did you know a monarch migrating from Wisconsin to Mexico will fly over 1,500 miles to do so?). Despite their popularity among the public, the eastern North American monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) population has declined by a stunning 90% in just the last twenty years (Xerces Society)! Let that soak in: only one in ten monarchs remain on the landscape.
Due to this massive decline, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was petitioned to list the monarch as a Threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act and will make a listing decision in December of 2020. This means every state in the U.S. that is graced with monarchs is working hard to collect data on this butterfly and improve its habitat proactively.
And we’ve been busy! The 16 states along the eastern monarch population’s migration path from southern Canada to central Mexico have developed a Mid-America Monarch Conservation Strategy, which outlines regional goals for species recovery. As one of the states along the monarch's migration route, Wisconsin is taking proactive measures to design and implement conservation strategies to protect and increase monarch populations.
In 2017, organizations came together for a Wisconsin Monarch Summit to discuss priority actions for monarch recovery efforts in Wisconsin. At the Summit, the participants decided that there was a need for a coalition to work together to prevent the decline of monarchs. The name of the coalition created is the Wisconsin Monarch Collaborative, and its primary purpose is to create and implement a statewide monarch conservation strategy which encompasses habitat creation and enhancement, education and outreach, and research and monitoring.
The Collaborative is comprised of five Working Groups and overarching Coordination and Communication Teams. The Working Groups are coordinated by the following co-leads: