Event on March 13-14 Invites Community Members to Help Monarch Butterflies and More
March 2, 2021 - The National Wildlife Federation is hosting the first Mariposa County Wildlife Challenge, a region-wide bioblitz where community members can help scientists by taking photos of wildlife and plants in their neighborhoods. Operating for over 80 years, the Federation is one of the United States' oldest and largest non-profit wildlife conservation organizations with more than 6 million members and supporters across the country.
Mariposa County is home to an incredible diversity of wildlife, and its borders stretch from the western Sierra Nevada foothills into Yosemite National Park. The County even possesses an animal namesake, as mariposa is the Spanish word for butterfly. And it’s one threatened butterfly, the monarch, which helped inspire Beth Pratt, the National Wildlife Federation’s California Regional Executive Director, and a longtime resident of the county, to launch the first Mariposa County Wildlife Challenge.
Sonoran Blue Butterfly
“Monarch butterflies are on the verge of extinction here in California. Last year only 2,000 were counted in the annual western monarch survey, this is down from millions. I have been doing butterfly surveys along the Merced River for years now, and last year saw only one monarch. It looks dire for this butterfly, but what I want everyone to know is you can help scientists learn more about the monarch, which then helps us protect them better. We need more data on its habits, and we don’t have a lot of records about monarchs in their breeding grounds like Mariposa County.”
Although there is a special focus on monarch butterflies for this bioblitz to support the efforts of the National Wildlife Federation, Xerces Society, Western Monarch Mystery Challenge, and many more organizations to save the butterfly, the Mariposa County Wildlife Challenge is asking community members to records observations of all species of wildlife and plants in their communities.
“We are interested in all area plants and wildlife—newts, squirrels, birds, butterflies, bees, deer—all sightings make a difference. All you need is a camera, and you can do this from your own backyard,” says Pratt. “My co-organizer and I, Ryan Kelly, another county resident, are concerned about the challenges wildlife face like climate change, fire, drought, and increased development and recreation. It’s not just the monarch butterfly that is threatened or stressed. We both thought, we need more eyes on this, and we know people across Mariposa County will help. The observations people provide will help scientists better protect wildlife. “
“Let’s do this, Mariposa! Our county is named for the butterfly,” observes Pratt. “Especially here, we can’t let monarchs disappear.”
Information about the Mariposa County Challenge
The Mariposa County Wildlife Challenge runs from March 13-14. All people need to do to participate is take photos of wildlife and plants they observe in Mariposa County between March 13-14, share it on iNaturalist (preferred) or email to it to email@example.com with date/time and location. Organizers ask that people be respectful of wildlife and safe when taking photos—please don’t approach animals and give them space when observing. The participant with the top verifiable (photo/audio) wildlife (Kingdom Animalia) observations during the challenge wins a wildlife trail camera, and
additional prizes will be given to top five observers of plants and wildlife, monarch and milkweed sightings, and many more categories.
Join the iNaturalist Project: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/mariposa-county-wildlife-challenge
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/747320035976837
Source & photo credit: Beth Pratt, Regional Executive Director, California, National Wildlife Federation