by E&E Legal Senior Legal Fellow
As Appearing in The Daily Sentinel
Observing a monarch butterfly in the 1850s, Emily Dickinson wrote about its apparently aimless flitting, “Repairing everywhere, without design that I could trace, except to stray abroad on miscellaneous enterprise, the clovers understood.” She knew butterflies were somewhat mysterious. They still are.
Someone monitoring populations decided that monarch butterflies are in grave danger, requiring immediate action to save them. That warning gave rise to the “Monarch Joint Venture,” a massive partnership of 90 federal and state agencies, environmental industry groups, and universities “working together to protect monarchs and their migration.” They are the country’s foremost experts in monarch conservation and education, their effort primarily funded, of course, by taxpayers.
A 50-page North American Monarch Conservation Plan was drafted a decade ago, though it remained informal. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service maintains a website called “Save the Monarch Butterfly,” with a headline announcing that the monarch “is in trouble.” A coalition called “Save Our Monarchs” has distributed more than a million milkweed seed packets annually for several years, hoping to restore the most preferred habitat.