Concerns About Captive-Breeding and Releasing Monarchs
Are we helping or hurting monarchs by releasing large numbers of captive-reared individuals?
Across the country, people purchase monarchs for release at weddings, funerals, and other celebrations; and to raise in classrooms and other educational settings. Following news of the dramatic decline in monarch numbers, some people are rearing large numbers of monarchs in backyard operations or obtaining them from commercial breeders or other organizations and releasing them with the goal of supplementing local populations. While raising and releasing small numbers of monarchs can offer important scientific and educational opportunities and foster a connection to nature, we believe that releasing commercially produced and continuously mass-reared individuals is unlikely to benefit monarchs, and could actually hurt them, as a result of mass rearing conditions that promote crowding and disease spread, or cause the loss of genetic diversity or adaptation to captive rearing conditions. Large-scale captive rearing and subsequent release can also limit the ability of monitoring programs to understand natural population dynamics.
For these reasons, we recommend against large-scale captive rearing of monarchs for release into the wild, and we summarize the potential impacts here...