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November 21, 2022

Protecting the Monarch Butterfly

With colder weather promised and winter approaching, sightings of the beautiful monarch butterfly are often missed at this time of year. Frequently spotted at PHAI work sites, CNL staff and contractors remain vigilant in protecting the habitat of these and other species at risk as we carry out construction activities.

This past summer, they Monarchs were spotted at the Port Hope Harbour and Centre Pier work sites. Monarch butterflies are common throughout southern Ontario and are often found in open fields or meadows with an abundance of wildflowers. They only breed in habitats with milkweed such as meadows, marshes, roadsides and gardens which are similar to various PHAI cleanup sites like the Port Hope Harbour. They may also be encountered in flower gardens around town.

Environmental technicians surveying PHAI work sites routinely for any potential impacts to the natural environment spotted the milkweed and the butterflies. The team is always on the lookout for flora or fauna that may be affected by cleanup and or restoration tasks. In this case, the area was carefully isolated to avoid disturbances during work.

The monarch butterfly was designated as endangered by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada in 2016 and recently the International Union for the Conservation of Nature added the butterfly to a “red list” categorized as endangered, due to its rapidly declining population threatened by habitat destruction and climate change.

Long included in the Port Hope Area Initiative species-at-risk database, the monarch butterfly and its habitat is protected during remediation activities. The database identifies plants and animals protected under federal or provincial legislation and helps CNL protect these species and their habitats by avoiding or managing interaction where project construction and remediation activities are planned. For example, consideration is given to avoiding an established “butterfly sanctuary” during cleanup work at the viaducts site in Port Hope.

Environmental monitoring is a key part of PHAI activities and provides assurance that human health as well as the environment is being protected.

See here for more information on our environmental protection plan.

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