The iconic monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) meets the criteria to be listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act — but will not be listed just yet because priority will be given to other species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced Dec. 15. This leaves the monarch as “a candidate species” for possible listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the future. As a candidate, its status will be reviewed each year until it is either added to the ESA or the populations recover. “We in the Fish and Wildlife Service just concluded one of the most rigorous species status assessments ever conducted by our agency,” Charles Wooley, regional director for the USFWS in the Department of the Interior’s Great Lakes region, said in a press briefing. The species assessment, Wooley said, informed the USFWS decision that “listing the monarch is warranted but precluded at this time by higher priority listing actions.” The “warranted-but-precluded” status is used by the USFWS when the service does not have enough resources, financial and/or human, to complete the process of listing a species because it must focus on other more vulnerable species or species involved in settlements due to litigation or court orders. Currently, 161 other species are considered a higher priority than the monarch butterfly, including several freshwater snails and mussels, salamanders, frogs, snakes, crayfish, turtles, beetles, plants, birds, and the little brown bat. Monarch butterflies on a branch in Michoacan Mexico. Photo by JHVEPhoto via Shutterstock. There are two populations…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer