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Monarch Butterfly efforts get a $3.2 million boost

U.S. government pledges $3.2 million to save monarch butterflies

Wednesday, February 11, 2015, 8:51 AM - Monarch butterflies fly between Canada and Mexico every year, but if something doesn't change soon they could be approaching their final flight.

According to data provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife organization the population of the orange insect has been in a sharp decline since the 90s. In 1996, the population was estimated to be around 1 billion butterflies, but today only 30 million remain. That means that about 970 million have disappeared—an average of about 54 million every year. That's about the same as the amount of people living in South Africa today.

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As for why? The reason lies in the milkweed plants. Farmers in the U.S. have been replacing the plant with more in-demand crops such as corn. And that has made it hard for the butterflies to find the plant that serves as their nursery, food source and home.

But in an attempt to stop the butterflies from being wiped out the U.S. government is funding a new program that they hope will be able to counteract the damage. About $2 million of the money will go to ground conservation projects. From providing information and seeds to the public, as well as planting milkweed in open areas. The rest of the money will be used as 'seed money' to obtain bigger investments from the private sector.

Here at home?

As for the Canadian efforts, the solution might start at home. Experts hope that people will add some milkweed to their gardens. In Toronto, the plant was available from the David Suzuki foundation for $5 as part of their #gotmilkweed campaign. The effort launched in 2014 and sold out their entire supply in just a matter of weeks. Now schools, alleys, parks all across the city are ready to welcome future generations of the insect.

The organizers are asking those that are interested to be ready for another campaign in the spring.

According to Parks Canada, the Point Pelee National Park is actively restoring savannah habitat—the preferred ground of the butterfly.

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