Monarch butterfly tracking event, August 14, in Dinosaur National Monument

VERNAL, Utah – The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) has partnered with Utah State University to research the distribution and migration of monarch butterflies, and they invite the public to watch them work up close. The event will take place in Dinosaur National Monument outside Vernal on Saturday, August 14 from 8 – 11 am at the historic Josie Morris Cabin. The event is free, but there is a $25 entrance fee per vehicle to enter Dinosaur National Monument.

Visitors will watch as biologists net the adult butterflies, attach a sticker with tracking information to their wing, followed by their safe release. This routine tracking activity helps to gather information about the butterflies’ migration patterns and population numbers. Participants will have the opportunity to learn more about monarch butterfly lifecycles and enjoy a beautiful walk through a field to see them.

A Utah biologist places a tracking sticker on the wing of a monarch butterfly. Photo: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

Monarch numbers are in steep decline due largely to pesticide use in the midwestern Corn Belt. This has reduced the number of milkweed plants growing in agricultural fields where most of the world’s monarchs are born. They are also affected by climate change, which impacts the predictable flowering season and stable weather conditions they need to complete successful migrations.

In fact, monarch numbers have dropped so low that many government scientists predict their numbers have fallen below the extinction threshold. If their populations do not recover soon, their migration could collapse.

While the event is free, the DWR requires participants to register in advance and reserve a time slot since space is limited.

For more information about how to help monarch butterflies in Utah, visit the Utah Pollinator Project website.

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