GSMNP (press release)—Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont held an event on Friday, July 17 in Cades Cove to mark the return of a 14 year-old Smokies monarch butterfly tag recovered on a forest floor in Mexico. Park and Tremont staff will be joined by outdoor educator, Wanda DeWaard, to receive the tag from Jaimie Maussan, a journalist from Mexico, who will return the tag to the Smokies at 10:00 a.m. at the beginning of the Cades Cove Loop Road near the orientation shelter.
Through the Great Smoky Mountains Monarch Watch Project led by Tremont staff and partners, hundreds of volunteers have participated in tagging monarch butterflies throughout the park since 1997. Monarch butterflies migrate up to 3,000 miles through the Smokies each fall on their journey to Mexico. On December 29, 2014, a tag from a butterfly tagged in the Smokies was discovered on the forest floor in Mexico at Santuario de la Mariposa Monarca el Rosario. The tag was placed on a female monarch butterfly in the park on October 4, 2001. The discovery of the tag allows scientists to better understand migration patterns, population status and habitat conservation needs.
“It’s really very exciting,” said reporter Jaimie Maussan. “The tag was found in the high part of the sanctuary known as El Rosario by one of the local guides just 3 or 4 minutes after we asked them to be on the lookout for the possibility of finding a tag. It was found on the forest floor covered by grass and leaves, but he saw it. It tells us an extraordinary story.”