Dr. Sears, Monarchs, Bt corn

Ron Gatrelle gatrelle at tils-ttr.org
Tue Oct 10 01:03:23 EDT 2000

    Yes, my scenario is indeed dramatic. I confess I do like hyperbole as a
thought instigator. Your response is, in a sense, just the opposite. It is
calm, well reasoned and REASSURING. Thus, I suspect the truth is between my
red light and your green light.
    Unfortunately, In the real world we live in there are many unreasonable
and unscrupulous persons. If this were not so we would not have to worry
about poachers of Ivory, hides, horn, bear bladders, and yes butterflies.
People who commit crimes do so out of greed not reason. I know enough about
Mexico to know that $5 US is a whole lot money to a lot of people there.
    The greedy do not know how "rare" tagged specimens are. They only
envision $5 bills hanging in a tree. The also don't reason out how they are
going to explain how the got so many ("so many" not being reality based, but
their greed-vision).
    Next, It is very easy to find a needle in a hay stack. You simply burn
the hay stack. You present the over-wintering tagged monarchs as basically
needles in a haystack. Which is exactly why someone would decimate the hay
stack (whole trees full of specimens) to find the tags. Your statistic of
there only being 1 tagged specimen per every 2000 to 5000 monarchs is not
reassuring at all. Why? Because the monarchs are there in the MILLIONS not
thousands. For example, @ 1 tagged individual per 3,000 specimens; IF there
are just 30,000,000 specimens there then there would be 10,000 tagged
individuals. At $5. each that is a total of $50,000 !!!!!! OF COURSE there
are not 10,000 tagged specimens there (or are there?). BUT the greedy,
unreasonable, and unscrupulous don't know that. Sorry, I think it is a huge
mistake to offer money for monarch tags. It is not worth the potential risk
to the over-wintering populations.

Ron Gatrelle, president
The International Lepidoptera Survey

----- Original Message -----
From: "Chip Taylor" <chip at ukans.edu>
To: <leps-l at lists.yale.edu>
Sent: Monday, October 09, 2000 5:11 PM
Subject: Re: Dr. Sears, Monarchs, Bt corn

> Ron Gatrelle provides and interesting and dramatic scenario of the
> potential impact of offering a small incentive (50 pesos about $5) to
> the guides at the monarch overwintering sites in Mexico for each tag
> they recover. We've thought about the issue raised by Mr. Gatrelle
> and many more.
> Most of the tags are recovered from dead butterflies. About half of
> the monarchs die, many killed by birds, at the overwintering sites
> during the course of the winter. The guides scan the dead butterflies
> as they lead tourists through the colonies. They also collect tags
> from living butterflies as the butterflies visit water sources. The
> butterflies at the seeps are often cold and easily collected. The
> tags are removed from these butterflies and they are released. We
> only need the tags and it is only the tags that are saved by the
> guides. I worried about the possibility of inciting attacks on
> clustered butterflies but as far as I can tell this has not happened
> and I don't think it's likely for several reasons. First, tagged
> butterflies are rare relative to untagged butterflies - 1/2000-5000
> and are extremely hard to spot in dense clusters. In fact, I've never
> seen one in a cluster in Mexico nor has anyone reported such an
> event. Second, if hundreds of butterflies were knocked to the ground
> to find one that was tagged, it would certainly vanish in the
> resulting chaos as all the butterflies tried to escape. In other
> words, disturbing clusters to collect tags is not a viable strategy.
> Third, most of the butterflies are clustered in trees well beyond the
> reach of even the longest net (none of the guides have nets as far as
> I know). Fourth, the guides show a great deal of respect for the
> butterflies and are constantly moving them from the footfalls of
> uncaring tourists. Fifth, it is illegal to disturb the clustered
> butterflies unless one has a permit and only a few people have
> permits. My sense is that guides who violated this restriction would
> be in trouble with their peers.
> The guides who search consistently report that they find 1-2 tags per
> search day (about 4-5 hours). This search effort is too intensive for
> many of the guides and they don't even bother searching. Although the
> guides make far too little (about $10 per day) neither they nor their
> families are destitute. The 50 pesos for each tag is a small
> compensation for their efforts. No one is going to be able to provide
> for their family by collecting tagged monarchs - there are too few
> tagged monarchs and our budget for recoveries is too limited.
> If it became clear that if clustered butterflies were being disturbed
> to collect the tags, I would stop the incentive program. There is no
> evidence of such disturbances at this time.
> >For information on our tagging program and the many things we are
> >learning from tagging, please visit our web site
> >www.monarchwatch.org. The PDF files of the last two Season Summaries
> >contain discussions about the recovery program. Estimates of
> >population size and mortality during the migration are now possible
> >(see the SS's) because the incentive we provide has increased the
> >number of tags recovered from 15-20 per yr to 689 last year.
> >Typically, 60-100 million monarchs overwinter in Mexico each year.
> Chip Taylor
> Director of Monarch Watch.
> >      How about this for a REAL threat to monarchs. At the recent
> >Lepidopterists' Society international meeting in North Carolina this
> >it was stated (by the monarch specialist in charge of the program) that
> >Mexican people in the monarch over-wintering area were being PAID FOR
> >believe this when I heard it! Are these researchers so absolutely dumb
> >they think the only monarchs from which the tags are being taken are
> >which "died of natural causes." Don't they know that poor people, who can
> >barely feed their own children, are going to SHAKE EVERY MONARCH OUT OF
> >TRADE THEM IN FOR CASH AND THE CASH FOR FOOD! If you're a hungry family
> >Mexico your kids are worth a whole lot more then BUGS!  North American
> >scientists have now made the monarch over-wintering trees into MONEY
> --
> Monarch Watch
> Email:  monarch at ukans.edu
> WWW:  http://www.MonarchWatch.org/
> Dplex-L:  send message "info Dplex-L" to Listproc at ukans.edu
> Phone:  1 (888) TAGGING (toll-free!) -or- 1 (785) 864 4441
> Fax:  1 (785) 864 4441 -or- 1 (785) 864 5321
> Snail:  c/o O.R. Taylor, Dept. of Entomology, Univ. of KS, Lawrence KS

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