So why the drastic cut in population? This cutback started occurring as farmers and homeowners began using pesticides on milkweed plants, which essentially the butterflies rely on for food, nursery and shelter. This is devastating, but the fact that we know the cause of this decline makes it a little easier to assess.
The Fish and Wildlife Service is partnering with National Wildlife Federation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to begin growing milkweed plants in the hopes that this will save these monarchs. Along with the partnership, they are providing $2 million for conservation projects, helping raise public awareness about the need for more milkweed plants, as well as providing seeds for anyone interested in helping to plant.
In addition to these agencies and organizations working to save the monarchs, the U.S. government is considering listing the monarch butterflies on the Endangered Species Act to help protect them.