WMU Professor Warns of Declining Monarch Butterfly Population

Feb 24, 2014

Monarch Butterfly
Credit Ekabhishek, Wikimedia Commons

Western Michigan University Professor of Biological Sciences Stephen Malcolm is among the scientists warning that monarchs are becoming rare east of the Rocky Mountains in North America. 

Malcolm was among the scientists, and others, who signed a letter calling on the U.S., Canada and Mexico to take action to preserve the butterfly. The letter was delivered to leaders of the United States, Canada and Mexico when they met February 19th and 20th. Malcolm says the monarch butterfly is not in danger of going extinct, but may not be seen along its traditional migratory path in this part of North America. 

Malcolm told WMUK's Gordon Evans that the current state of the monarch butterfly can only be described as "catastrophic." He says there has been a large drop in population over the last 20 years. But Malcolm says there was an even larger drop after the last winter. 

President Obama, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper have agreed to appoint a task force to come up with a plan for saving the monarch butterfly in North America (Christian Science Monitor story). Malcolm says the task force is good news because scientists have trouble getting their message across. And he says lobbyists usually have influence that scientists don't have. 

Malcolm says the monarch butterfly is a "wonderful indicator or environmental change." He says the drop in population show the needs to address issues such as chemicals used in agriculture and climate change. Malcolm says the decline of the Monarch Butterfly population in North America is an issue of economics and the environment. 

More from Stephen Malcolm can be heard Wednesday morning at 9:20 on WestSouthwest.