Conservation Park Works with Kids to Preserve Endangered Species

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PANAMA CITY BEACH-- Conservation Park officials partnered with kids and community members for a project designed to preserve an endangered species.

The kids tagged 22 monarch butterflies Saturday morning to track their migration patterns.

"So we're way down we're about 95% down on this migration and we're really worried we're going to lose this migration," said Park Resource Officer Dale Colby.

Parks Resource Officer Dale Colby educated members of Girls Inc, on Saturday about the declining monarch butterfly. He said the reason we are losing monarchs is the loss of milkweed a host plant where monarchs lay their eggs.

"So today we're going to be handing out milkweed seeds and some flower seeds and if everyone would plant a little milkweed we can bring back these monarchs," said Colby.

Along with handing out milkweed seeds to kids 22 monarch butterflies were tagged to track their migration. Each monarch has an identification number on their wing and a 1-800 number so people can track them back to Panama City Beach.

The migratory patterns of monarchs start in Canada and make their way down to Mexico, some traveling more than three thousand miles.
"And we hope they'll come back or their offspring will come," said Panama City Beach Mayor Gayle Oberst.

Not only is this important for park officials and community members, but also kids involved in the tagging. "I think it's really great that we can help them because I think that future generations should be able to see them too because they're really pretty," said Girls Inc. member Daela Weber.

Tagging and releasing these butterflies was not only a fun activity for those involved, but also an educational one.

"It lets them understand the life cycle of a butterfly and explain how we can destroy that cycle, so its just great to teach them about what's going on," said Mayor Oberst.

Mayor Oberst said the milkweed seeds given out today will be planted at home and then brought to the park in the spring for next year.

And park officials said they hope to continue to have more and more people come each year to help our monarchs.