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Monarch butterflies now on the endangered list

Environmentalists say the population of monarch butterflies in North America has declined between 22% and 72% over 10 years, depending on the measurement method.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The monarch is one of the most recognized butterflies you'll see, but did you know it's fluttering toward extinction?

Scientists on Thursday put the orange and black butterfly on the endangered list because of how quickly it's decreasing in numbers.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature says the population of monarch butterfly has declined between 22 to 72 percent over the past 10 years.

2 On Your Side talked to a local conservationist Thursday. He said putting the monarch on the endangered list has a lot of repercussions.

"If you do put monarchs on the endangered list, I could see a detrimental effect where, let's say you're a farmer, and you've got a field of milkweed, so now that's going to be habitat for an endangered species," conservationist David O'Donnell said. "And you're not going to be able to touch it.

"So if I was a farmer, I would say get rid of that milkweed patch before someone sees it, or else otherwise we won't be able to use this land, it's going to be designated habitat for a monarch butterfly."

O'Donnell worried about the impact of the monarch butterfly's drop in numbers.

"If the monarchs disappear, that's just psychologically damaging, I believe," he said. "You've probably read 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar.' Everybody has. It's a cool book. You would hate to see something like that disappear in our lifetime.

"My main thing is, yes, there's other pollinators, there's other butterflies, but this is like America's butterfly. If you can't save or conserve the things you love, soon you're going to lose the things you need to survive as a human species."

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