For Immediate Release, July 21, 2014
Bee-killing Pesticides Banned in Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon and Washington
Wildlife Refuges by Fish and Wildlife Service
PORTLAND, Ore.— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will phase out use of toxic bee-killing pesticides in national wildlife refuges in Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon and Washington by January 2016. The agency’s decision this month to ban the pesticides comes in response to a legal petition filed by the Center for Food Safety and joined by the Center for Biological Diversity, demanding the Service ban the use of neonicotinoids in wildlife refuge farming operations across the country. The Fish and Wildlife Service is the first U.S. agency to restrict use of neonicotinoids — a class of pesticides implicated in pollinator losses around the world and banned by the European Union.
“We commend the Service for taking its first step to ban neonicotinoids in the Pacific region, and now we call on the agency to permanently institute this policy on wildlife refuges nationwide,” said Paige Tomaselli, senior attorney with Center for Food Safety. “Federal wildlife refuges were established to protect natural diversity. Allowing chemical companies to profit by poisoning these important ecosystems violates their fundamental purpose and mission.”
The Fish and Wildlife Service has allowed farming on refuge lands for decades, but the widespread use of neonicotinoid pesticides is a relatively recent problem. The ban will affect nearly 9,000 acres of farmed wildlife refuge lands, limiting the toxic effects of neonicotinoids on pollinators, birds and ecosystems. The Fish and Wildlife Service has also announced that prior to the ban going into effect in 2016, refuge managers must exhaust all alternatives before allowing neonicotinoids to be used on refuges and also must analyze whether neonicotinoid use would harm species protected under the Endangered Species Act.
“This is a wake-up call for all federal agencies to recognize that neonicotinoids are deadly to wildlife and the environment and should be banned entirely,” said Lori Ann Burd, endangered species campaign director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “They must now move quickly to eliminate these dangerous chemicals from the American landscape.”
Neonicotinoids have quickly become the most broadly used class of insecticides in America and are used as seed coating on most commercial corn and soy seeds. Clothianidin, thiamethoxam and imidacloprid are the most commonly used neonicotinoid seed coatings, and all are highly persistent in the environment. In making the recent decision the Fish and Wildlife Service recognized that neonicotinoids are “likely to be impacting a broad range of non-target taxa including pollinators and soil and aquatic invertebrates” and that consumption of neonicotinoid-treated seeds “offers a route of direct mortality in birds and mammals” A recent study found that some bird populations are declining by more than 3 percent each year in areas with high concentrations of neonicotinoid use.