Save the Monarch Butterfly Conserving the Nature of America

Questions and Answers:
Extension of deadline for 12-month finding on petition to list the monarch butterfly under the Endangered Species Act

1. What action is the Service taking?
The Service is extending the deadline for making a finding on a petition to list the monarch butterfly under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). With this extension, the Service now expects to make its determination by December 15, 2020. The Service was petitioned to list the butterfly as endangered in 2014. In 2014, we determined the information in the petition was substantial and began a review of the species’ status to determine whether proposing to list it as endangered or threatened is warranted. Through an agreement with the plaintiffs, Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Food Safety, we were due to make a decision on June 30, 2019. The plaintiffs have agreed to extend the decision date to December 15, 2020.

2. Why is the Service extending the deadline?
Assessing the status of the monarch is a vast and complex undertaking. It involves significant data collection and analysis across a huge swath of North America, including the species’ wintering grounds in Mexico. Since 2014, we have devoted extensive staff time and resources to this assessment, launching the monarch conservation database, and working with partners on a wide range of voluntary conservation initiatives, including the rights-of-way candidate conservation agreement with assurances. The extension to December 15, 2020, allows the Service to focus additional effort on determining whether the monarch should be proposed for ESA listing.

We will be able to study data from the most recent census of overwintering monarchs, as well as the next survey to be conducted in late 2019. The additional time will provide the Service with the data to produce a scientifically sound determination on the monarch, a species with a global range and complex life history.

3. Are the plaintiffs in agreement with the extension?
The plaintiffs agreed to extend the deadline until December 15, 2020 and the extension was approved by the court. In the interim, the Service will provide the petitioners with progress reports on the decision process.

4. What are the possible outcomes of the Service’s evaluation of the petition?

5. What happens once the Service makes its finding?

Regardless of the determination, conserving monarch butterflies is a high priority for the Service, and we will continue working with partners to ensure monarchs and other pollinators are there for our future generations.

6. Where can I find more information about the listing decision process and the Service’s efforts to conserve the monarch?
For more information about the monarch butterfly, go to the Service's Save the Monarch website.