Nature

Texas Ranches and Conservationists Partner for the Sake of the Monarch

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The monarch migration through Texas is something that we’re privileged to enjoy, as they make their way both north and south throughout the state, either on their way to Mexico for the winter or headed north to Canada for the summer. However, the species has been under tremendous strain as of late, owing to changes to their habitat and the environment. According to the Monarch Butterfly Habitat Exchange, their populations have dissipated by 95 percent over the past three decades.

Recently, the Monarch Butterfly Habitat Exchange has partnered with ranches, five of which can be found in Texas, to rehabilitate the milkweed – a plant these butterflies rely on for breeding. “It concerns me deeply that monarch butterflies as a species are declining at such an incredibly accelerated rate. When you started seeing massive declines in numbers of populations, it’s something we should all be paying attention to and something we should all worry about and be actively trying to solve those problems,” noted Amy Greer, a Texas rancher who is registered with the exchange. “One of the things that’s important to us is serving the land before we serve ourselves,” said George Greer. “That’s what this program is helping us do.”

Texas Ranches and Conservationists Partner for the Sake of the Monarch

Photo: Public Domain Pictures

Winters-Wall Ranch in Brady is the Greers’ property, and one of the five ranches from the Lone Star State that are involved with the Monarch Butterfly Habitat Exchange. Three of the ranches in the program can be found in the vicinity of Austin, and the other (Wagley Ranch) is situated near Mineral Wells. According to an Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) official, at this time, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reviewing the possibility of putting the monarch on the endangered species list – something that many might find surprising. “It’s not like some rare species that you never see. The monarch is something everyone knows and generally loves and it has this amazing migratory phenomenon, which is unique within the animal world,” explained David Wolfe, the Director of Conservation Strategies for the EDF. With last year’s migration being particularly difficult for them, it’s a grim indication of the direction in which their species is headed, and partnerships such as this are hoping to head that off at the pass.