Action timeline

July 2014 – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it would phase out use of toxic bee-killing pesticides in national wildlife refuges in Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon and Washington by January 2016. The agency's decision this month to ban the pesticides comes in response to a legal petition filed by the Center for Food Safety and joined by the Center for Biological Diversity, demanding the Service ban the use of neonicotinoids in wildlife refuge farming operations across the country. 

August 26, 2014 – The Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Food Safety as co-lead petitioners, joined by the Xerces Society and renowned monarch scientist Dr. Lincoln Brower, filed a legal petition to the Service seeking Endangered Species Act protection for monarch butterflies.

December 29, 2014 – In response to our petition, the Service said that Endangered Species Act protection may be warranted for monarch butterflies and began a one-year status review on the species.

March 2, 2015 – More than half a million people called on the government to protect the monarch butterfly, as the public comment period on protecting monarchs under the Endangered Species Act closed. The Fish and Wildlife Service from that moment was given nine months to determine whether to propose protections for the iconic orange-and-black butterfly.

February 26, 2016 – The annual overwintering count of monarch butterflies was released, showing that — with 150 million butterflies — monarchs had experienced an encouraging population rebound from last year's second lowest-ever count of 42 million butterflies, though it had still been one of the lowest populations since surveys began in 1993.

March 10, 2016 – The Service missed its deadline to issue a final decision on protections for monarchs, so the Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Food Safety filed a lawsuit for protection for monarch butterflies.

July 5, 2016 – A legal settlement agreement required the Fish and Wildlife Service to decide on monarch protection by June 2019.

February 9, 2017 – The annual overwintering count of monarch butterflies was released confirming that butterfly numbers fell by nearly one-third from the 2016 count.

Monarch butterfly photo courtesy Flickr/Debbie Long.