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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Monarchs flutter through our state twice a year on their migratory path. However, their dwindling numbers are causing some concern. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that in four years time, the butterflies could be added to the Endangered Species Act listing.

“Unfortunately the monarch populations have been drastically declining over the last decade,” said Katie Hawk, with The Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma and Okies for Monarchs. “Just this last year we unfortunately received some sad news that the monarch populations that travel here through Oklahoma did decrease again by another 53 percent as compared to last year’s numbers.” 

For years, Oklahomans have been putting in the work to increase those numbers.

In 2016, Okies for Monarchs, along with over 40 organizations, developed a statewide action plan to build awareness and help install more pollinator habitats throughout Oklahoma.

“We had a shortage of seeds and plants available throughout the state, so we worked with nurseries to increase their inventory, as well,” said Hawk. “Other entities such as the Oklahoma City Zoo and The Nature Conservancy have done a number of outreach activities with the public, such as gardening, planting activities for families, for kids, making seed balls together.”

Hawk recommends posting a sign stating what the wildflowers are for to avoid complaints from neighbors.

Signage can help explain what plants you’re growing to bring in pollinators, such as monarchs. (Photo: KFOR)

“Signage helps to educate others as to what your intent is and what it is that you’re doing,” said Hawk. “Without the signage it’s very easy for us to think that this is just an unkept area.”

The planting of milkweed and other wildflowers will bring in the monarchs, as well as other pollinators, such as bees and birds.

“Native pollinator habitats also help to increase water filtration as well as reduce erosion and increase water quality,” said Hawk. “So when you’re helping to save the monarchs, you’re actually helping a number of our native species, as well as our water quality.”

Hawk said there is still a lot of work to be done to help build up the monarch population.

“We’re calling on all Oklahomans, all businesses, all agencies, all organizations,” said Hawk. “There’s something we can all do, doesn’t matter how small of a garden you have or if it’s just in containers on your front porch. If you plant it, they will come.”

In 2024, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service intends to propose listing the monarch if it is still warranted at that time.

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