Count finds sharp drop in monarch butterflies in California

Monarch butterfly photograph by Jim Hudgins/USFWS.
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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Researchers with an environmental group are labeling as "disturbingly low" the number of western monarch butterflies that migrate along the California coast.

A recent count by the Xerces Society recorded fewer than 30,000 butterflies, which it says is an 86 percent decline since 2017.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports the group in 1981 counted more than 1 million western monarchs wintering in California.

A 2017 study by Washington State University researchers found the species likely will go extinct in the next few decades if nothing is done to save them.

Scientists say the butterfly is threatened by pesticides, herbicides and destruction along their migratory route of milkweed habitat. They also have noted impacts from climate change.

Western monarch butterflies are typically seen from November to March along the California coast.

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