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Meet a man running for the monarch butterfly. It could make your heart flutter |


A Montreal ultra-marathoner is going to great lengths — literally — to draw attention to the plight of the monarch butterfly.

On Saturday, Anthony Battah is setting out on a 4,500-kilometre run from Montreal to Mexico.

He’ll first head west across Canada, then across the United States, from north to south.

Battah expects to cover anywhere from 50 to 70 kilometres a day, to arrive at the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Mexico’s Michoacán region in three months.

Battah said he’s up to the challenge both physically and mentally, having spent the last year running and training with health professionals.

“It may sound cheesy, but it’s just one day at a time, one step at a time,” he said of his mindset ahead of his departure.

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Anthony Battah appeared on Global News Morning in Montreal on Wednesday, July 26, 2023 to talk about his 4,500-km journey to save the monarch.

But the gruelling trek isn’t just about running. Battah will be following along the butterfly’s migratory routes, planting milkweed and nectar-rich plants along the way, to create monarch habitats.

“The monarch butterfly is the ultimate ultra-marathoner and it really needs our help,” Battah said, explaining what inspired him to embark on the journey.

In 2022, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) added the migrating monarch butterfly for the first time to its “red list” of threatened species and categorized it as “endangered” — only two steps away from extinction.

Click to play video: 'Monarch butterflies now listed as an endangered species'

Monarch butterflies now listed as an endangered species

In a devastating report, the IUCN said North American populations of the pollinator subspecies have shrunk anywhere from 22 to 72 per cent over the past decade, depending on the measurements used, and climate change, drought, wildfires and the use of pesticides and herbicides are to blame for dwindling populations.

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In Canada, the monarch is listed as Special Concern under the Species at Risk Act but was recommended for listing as Endangered in 2016.

“What’s happening to that species is maybe just an indication of what’s coming up for us,” Battah told Global News.

“I don’t want to seem too dramatic, but what’s causing the problems with the monarch is completely linked to climate change and use of pesticides and so on …  so I think this is all a wake-up call.”

As a pollinator, the beautiful monarch provides an invaluable service along its migratory route, thus allowing various ecosystems to thrive.

“Pollinators as a whole are responsible for as many as one in three bites of food that we eat, and for sustaining our natural plant ecosystems,” according to Monarch Joint Venture — an American non-profit.

Battah is hoping his journey will inspire others to also take action.

The goal, according to Battah’s Ultra-Trail Monarch website, is to raise $1 for every metre travelled.

Battah says the money collected through his non-profit will go to organizations that are known for their conservation efforts to protect the monarch.

One such organization is the Space for Life Foundation for the Montreal Insectarium Mission Monarch project.

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Battah and his core support crew– consisting of his wife and 10-year-old daughter — were set to depart from Montreal’s Insectarium on July 29, with free activities marking the sendoff.

“We’re leaving and everyone is invited,” Battah said.There’s going to be lots of little activities and a fun run.”

A first stop was planned for Vaudreuil just off the western tip of the island.

People can join Battah’s adventure on social media or even lace up and maybe run a few miles of their own for the monarchs.

— with files from Global News’ Michelle Butterfield

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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