The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR) hosted the first monarch butterfly summit ever held in the northeast or mid-Atlantic region on March 5 and 6, at WVU Jackson’s Mill.
The summit was held to give information to, and receive information from a broad group of stakeholders about monarch butterfly conservation in West Virginia.
Approximately 80 people attended the event representing various groups including agriculture, conservation groups, education, and the oil and gas industries.
Conservation groups have petitioned for monarch butterflies to be listed under the Endangered Species Act after studies have shown that the population of monarchs have declined 90 percent in the last two decades. Part of that process includes a species status assessment, and part of that assessment includes determining the current level of conservation currently being done or planned for in order to aid the species. If there is already an adequate amount of conservation work being done the listing of the species can be deferred, an outcome that most of the groups want according to a press release by the West Virginia DNR. The decision on the petition is slated for June 2019.
“The ultimate goal of this is to form some working groups and continue on with planning to eventually come up with a West Virginia Monarch Conservation Plan,” said Susan Olcott a diversity biologist with the West Virginia DNR.
Olcott also noted the importance of pollinator species like Monarch Butterflies to our food supply and agricultural production saying, “If you like anything from apples to plums to blueberries those are pollinated by insects.”