Paul Cherubini monarch at
Sun Mar 10 14:46:57 EST 2002

Do monarchs need help to rebound?

In Dec. 2000 the overwintering population in Mexico was
measured at at 28 million . This is way below the long term average
of 76 million. Even worse, in early March 2001 a severe storm hit
the overwintering area, killing even more monarchs. Media stories
circulated around the world last winter of the devastating plight of
the monarchs. Dr. Orley (Chip) Taylor estimated only 10 million
monarchs survived to remigrate back to Texas in March/April 2001.

Nine months later, in Dec. 2001, the overwintering population in Mexico
was at 110 million  = 46% above the long term average of 76 million.
Did any articles appear in the national media reporting this great
recovery? Nope, so the public was not made aware their had been
a recovery.

Likewise in the winter of 1991-92 there was a big scare that turned
out to be nothing.   A very severe freeze and snow storm hit the Mexico
overwintering area in Jan. 1992 and a second storm hit in Feb. 1992.
In a Science magazine article titled "The Case of the Missing Monarchs"
Lincoln Brower stated that "4 out of 5 colonies I visited were practically
wiped out". Media stories reporting an 80% monarch kill were widely
circulated around the world.  In the same Science article, Dr. Orley
(Chip) Taylor reported only a handful of spring migrants were sighted
in northern Mexico in April in areas where millions had been seen
in prior years. A very worrisome situation indeed.

So what happened just 9 months later after the devastating mass
monarch kill in Jan / Feb. 1992? Well, in Dec. 1992 the overwintering
population in Mexico was measured at 85-93 million butterflies - slightly
above normal!  Once again, no articles appeared in the world press
reporting this great recovery, so the public was not made aware of it.

So this begs the question: Why would conservationists go out of their
way to make the world press aware of monarch population declines,
but not also want the world know about the monarch population

Seems obvious to me that keeping the public frightened and worried
about the monarch maximizes the grant / donation income monarch
convservation organizations receive.

Two years ago, Prof. Bruce Walsh expressed a similar view:
"Remember, just like big corn gets their money by being able
to produce their product as cheaply as possible, many
environmental groups get their money by convincing the public
that there is some dire threat that they need to fight
(read support [= send money] to groups claiming the threat)."
Practical example: Dozens of people on this list serve recently received 
the following email from Pat Durkin of the Washington Area Butterfly 


As result of the big freeze in Mexico this past January, which you
may have seen reported in the New York Times and other newspapers,
it is exceedingly important to keep up our East Coast monitoring
projects at Cape May, NJ and Chincoteague, VA. Donations of any
size would be most appreciated. Please make checks payable to 
"Sweet Briar College, Monarch Fund" and send c/o Lincoln Brower 
to the address below.

Many thanks,
Pat Durkin, WABC

Lincoln Brower, Research Professor of Biology
Sweet Briar College
Sweet Briar VA 24595


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