[SoWestLep] Mexico expands monarch butterfly habitat

Patrick Foley patfoley at csus.edu
Sun Nov 12 17:53:55 EST 2000

Dear Leppers,

    I believe that the majority of population biologists interested in the
problem tend to agree with Opler, Glassberg, Pyle and others that there are
serious potential dangers to butterfly release. That these dangers are not
confirmed yet in the case of monarch should be a source of anxious relief by
butterfly enthusiasts, not gloating by the pro-release, pro-pesticide,
anti-scientists on this list.
    Most ecologists are environmentalists from bitter experience and careful
analysis. It is simply not true that ecologists are fudging their data, lying
about their conclusions or intentionally misleading the public. Certainly,
ecologists are biased and fallible. Rarely are they the malicious liars that Paul
Chrubini suggests. If you get your science from Rush Limbaugh and junkscience.com
you get a distorted view of science.

Patrick Foley
patfoley at csus.edu

Paul Cherubini wrote:

> Mark Walker wrote:
> > I suspect that it was in response to environmentalist pressure that the
> > Mexican government made this decision.  This pressure was only effective
> > after it secured widespread public support.  To get widespread public
> > support, environmentalists (to which I consider myself counted) do not
> > restrict themselves to science or fact.  The question is this:  is it wrong
> > to propagate bad science and false information to secure goals which are
> > ecologically high-minded and soundly altruistic?  I say YES.
> What I am wondering is whether or not the 60,000 people living
> in the monarch overwintering area in Mexico are even aware of how
> "propagating bad science and false information to secure goals which are
> ecologically high-minded and soundly altruistic" is a commonplace
> phenomenon in our American scientific culture?
> An example is the butterfly release controversy.  NABA butterfly scientists
> Jeffrey Glassberg, Paul Opler, Robert M. Pyle  Robert Robbins &
> James Tuttle http://www.naba.org/weddings.html claimed that released
> monarchs "may not be able to orient properly"  "may be unable to find the
> way to their overwintering grounds" may spread diseases and parasites
> to wild populations, with devastating results"
> These fanciful imaginings ended up being presented
> as facts by the ENCARTA Encyclopedia, "Butterflies and Moths"
>  -- Section VIII.  Encarta states: "this practice threatens native
> populations of Monarchs" and "released Monarchs, which may have
> been collected from elsewhere, can spread disease, disrupt the
> gene pool of the native Monarch population, and confuse
> scientific understanding of the Monarch's natural distribution."
> Terry Fluke and other butterfly breeders contacted ENCARTA
> Editorial Staff to point out the mistaken presentation of opinions
> as facts.
> ENCARTA's research staff  queried the U.S. Department of
> Agriculture and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
> (APHIS).
> APHIS staff informed ENCARTA's research team that the opinions
> against butterfly releases are insufficiently supported by
> scientific evidence, therefore lacking in evidence to prove
> releases are harmful.
> After completing their research, ENCARTA's Editorial
> Research Team stated that ENCARTA will no longer present
> this information as fact.
> Do Glassberg, Opler,  Pyle, Robbins & Tuttle feel any sense
> of shame or guilt that their fanciful imaginings were presented
> as facts by an encyclopedia? Would they have taken the initiative
> to contact and correct the misinformation in the encyclopedia if
> they had discovered it for themselves?
> Paul Cherubini, Placerville, California
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