The number of monarchs wintering in California has dropped to a five-year low, despite more volunteers counting more sites in search of the orange-and-black insect that is arguably the most admired of North American butterflies, a report said on Friday.
The latest tally of 200,000 monarchs in forested groves in California’s central coast has dropped from the 1.2 million counted two decades ago, indicating the number of butterflies found west of the Rocky Mountains, or the so-called western population, continues to sharply decline, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation said in a report.
“It’s certainly concerning,” said Sarina Jepsen, endangered species program director for the Xerces Society.
Western monarchs are born on milkweed plants in such states as Arizona, Idaho, Utah and Washington before embarking on a seasonal migration to California.
The annual count in California, done at the end of autumn by dozens of volunteers and scientists, last saw a severe low in 2012, with 144,812 butterflies across 136 sites, she said.
In another troubling trend, the 200,000 butterflies found in the 2017 survey stemmed from monitoring of 262 sites, which were even more sites than were tracked the previous year when 300,000 monarchs were counted, Jepsen said.
Factors that may have compounded monarchs’ plight in California in recent months include unseasonably warm temperatures, wildfires, smoke from wildfires and mudslides, all of which may have played roles in reports of monarchs migrating and breeding later than usual, she said.
While much is known about the decades-long population decline of monarchs in the eastern and central United States, which number in the tens of millions and which winter in Mexico before winging north in a famed mass migration, scientists have only recently been able to track the western variety due to new statistical models.
Scientists believe declines in both U.S. monarch populations are linked to human development that has seen the destruction of roosting trees in California and Mexico, climate change and farmers’ increasing use of pesticides that kill the milkweed plants butterflies depend on for reproduction and food.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering adding monarchs to the federal list of endangered and threatened species.
A 2017 study funded by the agency found that the western population has a 63 percent chance of extinction in 20 years and an 84 percent chance in 50 years if current trends continue.
(Reporting by Laura Zuckerman in Wyoming; Editing by Himani Sarkar)
‘There is no managing Donald Trump’: White House Republicans blasted for their myth of ‘adults in the room’
Republicans who thought they could manage Donald Trump were taken down in The New Yorker on Tuesday.
The Susan Glasser article was titled, "The spectacular failure of the Trump wranglers."
"On Tuesday, nearly seven hours into the marathon third day of public impeachment hearings, Kurt Volker tried to explain to the House Intelligence Committee what it was like to carry out the nearly impossible task of wrangling U.S. policy toward Ukraine during the Presidency of Donald Trump," Glasser wrote. "Volker, a veteran Republican diplomat who had been serving, since 2017, as Trump’s Special Representative to Ukraine, said that he realized last spring that he had a 'problem,' and that it was Trump himself.
BUSTED: Trump’s White House sent out anti-Vindman talking points — trashing their own staffer
President Donald Trump's war on his own employees escalated on Tuesday when the White House spread talking points designed to result in a coordinated attack on a decorated active-duty Army officer.
"The Trump White House has taken the extraordinary step of distributing talking points to allies of the president trashing one of its employees," The Daily Beast reported after obtaining a copy of the document.
"On Tuesday morning, White House aide Julia Hahn emailed Trump surrogates under the subject line, “Vindman’s Complaints Are Nothing More Than Policy Disagreements,” according to messages reviewed by The Daily Beast. Hahn, a Steve Bannon protege and one of his former allies in the White House, works on outreach and communications involving pro-Trump talking heads and other players in conservative media," The Beast reported.
Don Lemon notes the GOP panic after their own witnesses gave testimony harming Trump: ‘Worried much?’
CNN anchor Don Lemon explained how witnesses called by Republicans in the impeachment inquiry destoryed the defenses employed by President Donald Trump and his allies.
"Now, let's just be honest, the shakedown -- that's exactly what it is -- the shakedown is exposed, people," Lemon said.
"And the evidence comes from the Republican's own witnesses," he noted. "The former envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker -- who resigned just one day after the release of the whistleblower's report -- telling the president's defenders exactly what they did not want to hear."
"They called him apparently expecting him to say what he said in his closed-door testimony, that he saw no evidence of a quid pro quo, or let's call it for what it is again -- a shakedown," he continued. "Well, now he says he was wrong."