For longer than anyone can remember, Monarch Butterflies have been migrating from Canada and the Northern United States to an area in the mountains of central Mexico, wintering over until spring and then flying north again to breed in Texas. After mating, the butterflies die but succeeding generations keep moving north. After the fourth generation of butterflies arrive in Canada and the Northern United States, their offspring begin the great migration south again.
Today, this phenomenal butterfly migration is threatened by criminals who are illegally cutting down the trees that provide shelter and sanctuary for the butterflies. In 1980, the Mexican Government established a butterfly preserve in the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt pine-oak forest ecoregion.
Illegal logging is continuing in the butterfly preserve, and the authorities are not doing enough to stop it. The end result of all this pilfering could be when the criminals run out of trees and Mexico runs out of butterflies! Many people who live in the vicinity of the preserve say that illegal loggers come at night and cut the trees down. A lot of the native people say that they are afraid of the criminals and do nothing to stop them.
To show their defiance and disrespect for the law, many of these criminals burn the stumps after they cut the trees down. Apparently, certain farmers in the area are responsible for the illegal logging. Being poor is no excuse for their actions; these criminals are stealing from everybody.
It is up to the Mexican Government to take positive action to stop the illegal loggers. Cutting down trees makes a lot of noise, and if patrols were used, the criminals could be easily spotted and stopped day or night. How long will the authorities allow criminals to cut down age-old trees that are the lifeblood of the preserve?
Who will fight for the butterflies? Will the people who celebrate the arrival of the butterflies take a stand against the criminals? Will the police take decisive action? Will the Mexican Government take steps to protect the butterfly sanctuary? What good is a sanctuary if criminals are allowed to pilfer and destroy the trees that make it a sanctuary?
--Marlin O. Wallace