Feds look to reverse bee, butterfly decline

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(NBC NEWS) The federal government hopes to reverse America’s declining honeybee and monarch butterfly populations by making more federal land bee-friendly, spending more money on research and considering the use of less pesticides.

Scientists say bees — crucial to pollinate many crops — have been hurt by a combination of declining nutrition, mites, disease, and pesticides. The federal plan is an “all hands on deck” strategy that calls on everyone from federal bureaucrats to citizens to do what they can to save bees, which provide more than $ 15 billion in value to the U.S. economy, according to White House science adviser John Holdren.

“Pollinators are struggling,” Holdren said in a blog post, citing a new federal survey that found beekeepers lost more than 40 percent of their colonies last year, although they later recovered by dividing surviving hives. He also said the number of monarch butterflies that spend the winter in Mexico’s forests is down by 90 percent or more over the past two decades, so the U.S. government is working with Mexico to expand monarch habitat in the southern part of that country.

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