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Director's Corner

Meet Service Director Dan Ashe.

More Help for Monarchs

Director Dan Ashe watches Hallie tag a monarch. Photo by Joanna Gilkeson/USFWS

I spent much of this morning at beautiful Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge with Senator Amy Klobuchar working on monarch butterfly conservation.  Life is good!

Senator Klobuchar is an exceptional advocate for monarchs in Congress, and it is stirring to hear the passion she has for them.

And as a bonus: We had plenty of kids with us, ready to become monarch scientists and add to our data on the butterfly.

From our Midwest Region: U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, Service Director Dan Ashe Boost Monarch Conservation

We’ve been making a lot of noise about it, so by now, I think a lot of people know that time is running out to secure the future of the monarch butterfly, one of North America’s most recognizable wildlife species.

As recently as 1996, the estimated population of monarchs wintering in Mexico topped 1 billion.  This year, the Mexican overwintering population numbered only about 56.5 million butterflies.

Some of the problem has been blamed on timber harvesting in Mexico, climate change and disease – and we must address those factors –  but the accelerating conversion of native prairie habitat in Midwestern states to crop production and livestock grazing has hurt the monarch and other pollinators.


ā€˜Eā€™ is for Elephant, Not Extinction

dog team
Dog Ruger and some of the team. Photo by Michelle Gadd/USFWS

As our children learn to read, we teach them that “E is for elephant.”

It’s hard to believe that one of the world’s most well-known and beloved animals, a staple of children’s alphabet books and stories, is fighting for its very existence. But these magnificent creatures are, and there is no better time than today – World Elephant Day – to remember African and Asian elephants and continue our hard work to help both of these species that are threatened with extinction. 

In Africa, poaching for ivory poses the biggest threat to elephants. We lost 95 percent of elephants there during the 20th century, and now we risk losing the remaining 5 percent.  The thriving illegal trade in ivory makes every elephant a target for ruthless, well-armed criminal organizations that are driven by greed. 

We have raised awareness here at home about the plight of the elephants with our two Ivory Crushes. We also support on-the-ground conservation in countries across Africa through our African Elephant Conservation Fund, including efforts with the South Luangwa Conservation Society to launch a wildlife detector dog program in Zambia. 

Three teams of dogs and handlers are at work and Zambia is already seeing results! (Related: We have detector dogs in the United States |  Read about detection dogs in Kenya.) 


Working to Protect African Lions

The African lion is one of the world’s most beloved species – as the celebration of World Lion Day today attests. Unfortunately, ensuring that healthy, wild lion populations continue to roam Africa’s savannas has become increasingly challenging.

Lions in Maasai Mara, Kenya. Photo by Heidi Ruffler | See more photos

The death of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe has drawn international attention to the species’ plight. But while poaching, illegal and poorly managed hunting are a concern, the most common causes of wild lion mortality – conflicts with local communities and habitat loss – are vitally important to address.


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