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Sisters-tagged Monarch made epic journey

Journey with his tag. photo provided

Susie Werts and her reading class at Sisters Middle School couldn't believe it when one of two butterflies they had tagged in September made it 700 miles to north of Ventura, California, last week (see related column by Jim Anderson).

Werts and her class learned all about the struggle of monarch butterflies last spring. They focused their energy into building and planting a monarch waystation at the middle school. The group received five caterpillars, of which only two became butterflies.

Both "Hope," the female monarch, and "Journey," the male, hatched on September 16. Werts, with help from Chris Jensen, tagged both butterflies, a process involving taking a small sticker with a coded number and placing it on the butterflies wings, and released them the next day.

"We took the male, Journey, to the garden around 12:30," said Werts. "We were hoping he would pause and fuel-up at the garden we planted. In reality, he just flew off. Over the baseball field and he was gone."

Werts' son Kellen was there at the release and commented about "all that work for nothing."

Well, it wasn't for nothing.

Journey made it farther than any other monarch has made it in his travels from the Pacific Northwest, and the longest trip any tagged butterfly has made from Bend.

"He is the Ashton Eaton of monarchs," said Werts.

The students were thrilled. Werts played the band Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" when they came into class to hear the news for the first time.

There is still no news of the female monarch from SMS, Hope, but both students, staff and local butterfly experts are thrilled with the results from the students' hard work.

Many have tagged thousands of monarchs over their careers and never had a result like this.

"It's like winning the lottery," said Werts.


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