Government views Monarch Butterfly Releases as a threat to We stern Milkweeds

Kenn Kaufman kennk at
Sat Dec 8 00:13:15 EST 2001

Paul,  Thank you for passing along this very well reasoned opinion
from Dr. Karen Oberhauser.  Her points are certainly persuasive,
and provide more strong reasons to avoid shipping Monarchs any
distance for release.  I'm glad to see you providing something
useful to the discussion this time.

Kenn Kaufman
Tucson, AZ

> See post below:
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Date:  Fri, 07 Dec 2001 15:46:16 -0600
> Reply-to: dplex-l at
> From: "Karen Oberhauser" <Karen.S.Oberhauser-1 at>
> To: MonEd at, dplex-l at
> CC: Wayne.F.Wehling at
> Subject: Re: [MonEd] CNN report 6 Dec 01
> An outcome of the new regulations would be to prevent the release of
> monarchs where they [their genotype] do not naturally occur.  This
> seems to me to be a good outcome, even though it is not the purpose
> of the regulation.
> Despite widespread claims to the contrary, there is evidence that
> monarchs become genetically differentiated by the end of the summer,
> suggesting either local adaptation or non-adaptive genetic drift (see
Eanes and
> Koehn 1978, Evolution 32:784-797. An analysis of the genetic structure
in the
> monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus L).  Widespread releases of
> non-local stock could make further studies of this structure difficult,
and there
> is a slight, although admittedly small, chance that it would have a
> negative impact on monarchs.  For the above reasons, we do not ship
> monarchs out of Minnesota and Wisconsin.
> While the general thrust of most arguments I've seen on the list is
> that the rules are bad because harm from movement of monarchs has
> not been proven, it seems to me that it makes most sense to put the
burden of
> proof on the other side, and say that we should not move them long
> until it's been shown that it won't have negative impacts.
> If releasing monarchs near endangered plants has even the slightest
chance of
> hurting those plants, we shouldn't do it.
> If shipping monarchs from Minnesota to Maine has even the slightest
> chance of disupting genetic structure, or  of making it difficult to
study that
> structure, I don't think we should do it.
> Dr. Karen Oberhauser
> University of Minnesota
> Department of Ecology
> 1987 Upper Buford Circle
> St. Paul MN  55108
> 612 624-8706  fax: 612 624-6777


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