Butterfly activist Homero Gonzales was found dead in a holding pond near the Rosario Monarch Sanctuary, the same sanctuary where he worked as head of managing console. Before he was found, more than 200 volunteers searched for him. They were hopeful but feared the worst. According to Common Dreams, Gomez may have been targeted by members of the local illegal logging industry because of his activism. Family told the media he received threats from a criminal organization.
Gonzales was passionate about protecting the millions of monarch butterflies that migrate every winter to the hilltops of the Mexican State of Michoacan. The work he does is well needed as the intense deforestation in Mexico could lead to the end of the monarch migration. According to Chip Taylor, a KU professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, the deforestation is largely due to the illegal logging that takes place in the area. “It’s a remote area and it’s difficult to police…[T]hey sneak in at night, sometimes with 100 trucks and clear out 2 or 3 hectares…[N]ow that they’ve taken out most of areas where the butterflies don’t occur, they are going to be starting work on areas that they do occur”.
Although the circumstances surrounding his death are unknown, there is little doubt for the community and the authorities that his death has to do with getting in the way of the illegal logging organizations. At the activit’s funeral, Amando Gomez, Gonzales brother, pleaded with authorities to prevent further tragedies. “I would like to ask the authorities to do their job and do more to protect activists like my brother, because lately in Mexico a lot of activists have died..[W]ith his death, not only my family lost a loved one; but the whole world, and the monarch butterfly and the forests lost, too.”