Publisher retracts statements
ENCARTA Encyclopedia, "Butterflies and Moths" -- Section VIII included information about people releasing Monarchs for weddings and other festive occasions, and stated that "this practice threatens native populations of Monarchs." The article went on to state that "released Monarchs, which may have been collected from elsewhere, can spread disease, disrupt the gene pool of the native Monarch population, and confuse scientific understanding of the Monarch's natural distribution."
Terry Fluke, IBBA member, discovered this mistaken information and called it to the attention of the membership. Kathleen Ziemer and other IBBA members then contacted ENCARTA Editorial Staff to point out the mistaken presentation of opinions as facts.
Kathleen requested that the ENCARTA staff research this topic, informing them that their information about butterfly releases (above) was based on opinion, and not facts resulting from scientific research.
Much to their credit, ENCARTA has an Editorial Research Team that is dedicated to keeping the content of Encarta accurate, current, and informative. In the pursuit of those goals, ENCARTA research staff contacted Kathleen and then queried the U.S. Department of Agriculture. (The USDA is the agency responsible for issuing permits for interstate shipments of butterflies for release to the environment. It is this agency's expert Lepidopterists and Entomologists that previously performed assessments and determined which butterflies could be safely released in specific geographic regions, posing no risk to local butterfly populations nor the environment.)
ENCARTA's Editorial Research Team completed their investigation, including speaking with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) at the United States Department of Agriculture.
APHIS staff informed the research team that the opinions against butterfly releases are insufficiently supported by scientific evidence, therefore lacking in evidence to prove releases are harmful.
After completing their research, ENCARTA's Editorial Research Team stated that ENCARTA will no longer present this information as fact. As a result of their findings, the Team advised that the relevant passage in the ENCARTA Butterflies and Moths article be amended. Text in future publications will be revised according to their findings.