Over the past two decades, monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) populations have declined significantly due to a variety of factors including habitat loss and a lack of milkweed plants, the sole host plant used by the monarch during its egg and larval stages. Subsequently, the presidents of the United States and Mexico and the Prime Minister of Canada have called for cooperative action. This decline has also prompted several national groups to petition the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to protect monarch butterflies under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In June 2014, a Presidential Memorandum was issued from The White House directing federal actions to address the issue of pollinator conservation, resulting in the creation of a Pollinator Health Task Force and the National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators.
Recognizing the importance of this issue and the need to be part of the solution, representatives from the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), Arkansas Wildlife Federation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Arkansas Game and Fish Commission began discussing Arkansas’s role in monarch conservation. Staff from these agencies along with staff from Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission and Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts formed the core team that planned a summit for discussing the options for future collaboration.
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