Wildlife Department to Host Monarch Watch at Hackberry Flat WMA

Migrating monarch butterflies are annually tagged through a national citizen science effort known as Monarch Watch. (Rhonda Hurst/ODWC)

Migrating monarch butterflies are annually tagged through a national citizen science effort known as Monarch Watch. (Rhonda Hurst/ODWC)

Monarchs will soon be southbound and you can help biologists tag these migrating butterflies during the weeklong monarch watch Oct. 3-10 at Hackberry Flat Wildlife Management Area in southwestern Oklahoma.

Activities begin at 8 a.m., Oct. 3 with an educational monarch program. Melynda Hickman, wildlife diversity biologist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will discuss this celebrated insect’s complex life cycle and ways people can help monarchs and other pollinators. Later, participants, based on age and ability, can help tag monarchs as part of the national citizen science effort, Monarch Watch.

“Hackberry Flat WMA serves as a stopover for migrating monarchs,” Hickman said. “So we’ll be tagging butterflies that have spent the previous night on the area and releasing them on site so that they can continue their migration to Mexico.”

Each evening, participants can watch as migrating monarchs come to roost at a traditional stopover site on the Hackberry Flat WMA. Attendees will meet at the Hackberry Flat Center at 6:30 p.m. and travel to the roost site by covered trailer or in their personal vehicle. Those participating in the evening activities are encouraged to bring a comfortable chair, camera and a light jacket.

This weeklong watch will be held regardless of the weather, but tagging activities will depend on the number of monarchs collected each morning.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2015, Hackberry Flat Wildlife Management Area, located near Frederick in southwestern Oklahoma, offers 7,120 acres of wildlife recreational opportunities. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, along with many conservation-minded partners, restored this legendary wetland, creating a vast mosaic of wetland habitats for prairie waterfowl, shorebirds and other wetland-dependent birds. Upland areas of native sunflowers and cultivated fields interspersed with mesquite have become one of the state’s premier dove-hunting destinations. Open for scheduled events, the modern Hackberry Flat Center offers interpretive guidance for wildlife enthusiasts, students and educators. Participants of these educational programs are exempt from needing a Wildlife Conservation Passport or valid hunting or fishing license while on Hackberry Flat WMA. Fore more information, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.

To get to the Hackberry Flat Center, from the south side of Frederick, take U.S. 183 south for one mile, then go east on Airport Road for three miles. Follow the blacktop road south, and continue six miles. Watch for signs to the center.

For more information about this free event, or other educational programs held at Hackberry Flat Center, contact Melynda Hickman at melynda.hickman@odwc.ok.gov or by calling (405) 990-4977.

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