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With a decade of drastic decline, Minnesota monarchs now rare

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The monarch, the official butterfly of the state of Minnesota, once a common colorful sight across the state, has all but vanished.

No one is saying "extinct," but as Minnesota Public Radio reports, the peak season for the monarch is right now, and good luck going out and finding one.

A generation of Monarchs may have been lost, one expert tells MPR.

The Minnesota monarch has a history of migration between here and Mexico, and the Associated Press reports – by noting that the Minnesota monarch "is in trouble" – the number of monarchs wintering in Mexico City was the lowest number recorded since records began 20 years ago.

Shocking statistic: Researchers estimate the Mexico winter population was 60 million, down from 350 million the year before, MPR reports. That's 290 million monarchs vanished.

Six of the last seven years have shown drops, and there are now only one-fifteenth as many butterflies as there were in 1997, the AP reports: "The decline now marks a statistical long-term trend and can no longer be seen as a combination of yearly or seasonal events."

What gives?

Well, logging, agricultural changes and pesticides are seen as culprits, says the AP, but that alone doesn't necessarily explain the long-term shift.

MPR notes further extreme weather in southern states this year might have contributed to the kill-off, and also suggests suburban sprawl may contribute.

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