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MONTREAL — As North American monarch butterfly populations decline, the David Suzuki Foundation is launching a Monarchs in Mexico contest. Citizens throughout Canada will have the chance to win a one-of-a-kind trip to discover a magnificent refuge for this species. The monarch was designated as endangered in November.

Winners will have 10 days to discover Mexico's beauty and observe monarch butterflies in their natural habitat. After visiting the historical heart of Mexico City, winners will enjoy an awe-inspiring spectacle of millions of butterflies in flight at the El Rosario and Sierra Chincua sanctuaries, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008.

The endangered monarch is a Canadian icon

The contest is part of the Butterflyway Project launched by the Foundation last spring to raise awareness among Canadians of the threats facing the monarch, including climate change, habitat reduction and pesticide use. In agriculture, widespread herbicide use reduces the number of plants monarchs rely on, including flowering plants adult butterflies need for nectar and milkweed their caterpillars depend on for food. Milkweed used to be common in North America, but has now been eradicated from many fields, declining by as much as 58 per cent in some regions. Experts on the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada say every generation of migrating monarchs depend on milkweed. Planting milkweed helps the monarch population, which hit a historical low of barely 33.5 million in 2013, compared to the annual average of 350 million a year over the past 15 years. Thanks to the efforts of citizens, more than 5,000 plants and 20,000 seed packs have been planted in Canada in 2016, as part of the Butterflyway Project.

"This steep decline in monarch populations over the past few years has raised concerns about the impact humans have on biodiversity, on which we all depend," says David Suzuki Foundation Quebec science projects manager Louise Hénault-Ethier. "A 2016 study published in Scientific Reports estimates that the monarch population in North America has a probability of declining up to 57 per cent over 20 years. Fortunately, there are solutions, but they require cooperation between North American governments, scientists, non-governmental organizations and citizens everywhere, including in Quebec. The first step could simply be discovering the wonder of the monarch. We hope this contest will encourage people to learn more about this butterfly and the importance of protecting it."

Butterflyway Project: Second edition will take off in 2017

The second edition of the Butterflyway Project will be announced in early March with a range of suggested actions that will enable people to help save an iconic Quebec species — including buying milkweed, spearheading political advocacy and taking part in an ambassador program to create a butterfly effect to protect the monarch locally.

Contest information

The contest will run from January 18 to 29, 2017, and is open to all Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada. The prize includes a 10-day trip for two to Mexico, including return flight to Mexico City* from the winner's city of residence, and accommodations.

The winner will be drawn at random and contacted on January 30, 2017, between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. EST, through the contact information indicated on the entry ballot. The winner will have two hours to confirm whether he or she accepts the prize.

For more details, go to http://action2.davidsuzuki.org/mexico

The Monarchs in Mexico contest is presented by Nature's Way and Cascades, in partnership with Espace pour la vie, Aeroplan and G Adventures.

_*The Foundation would like to point out that GHG emissions from the return flight to Mexico will be offset by the purchase of carbon credits. _

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Information and interview requests:

Manon Dubois, Communications Director (Quebec)
David Suzuki Foundation
514-679-0821, mdubois@davidsuzuki.org

National program partners:
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Contest partners:
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January 20, 2017
http://www.davidsuzuki.org/media/news/2017/01/david-suzuki-foundation-offers-opportunity-to-discover-mexican-monarch-butterfly/