UIC playing key role in monarch butterfly conservation efforts

CHICAGO — The University of Illinois at Chicago is taking a lead role in a nationwide effort to conserve monarch butterflies.

The number of the the orange-and-black insects has declined by 80% in the last two decades with a loss of habitats with native plants as a leading cause, according to federal officials.

The university’s Energy Resources Center will administer a recently-approved agreement between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and dozens of energy and transportation-related organizations. Through the agreement they’ll adopt conservation measures, like efforts to increase milkweed which monarchs need to survive.

The agreement with the groups, including departments of transportation, could cover 26 million acres of land.

“This unprecedented agreement encourages land managers to take immediate, proactive steps to support the monarch butterfly so that we can turn its decline around, while simultaneously providing regulatory certainty and operational flexibility to our nation’s energy companies and transportation agencies,” Iris Caldwell, program manager at the Energy Resources Center, said in a statement.

Monarchs are being considered for federal listing under the Endangered Species Act.

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