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Bee Killing Pesticides Phased Out of Federal Refuges

Jul 22, 2014 04:31 PM EDT
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Wildlife refuges in  the Northwest and Hawaii will be "phasing out" a class of pesticides suspected to be causing severe damage to pollinator populations, planning to have the pesticides completely out of these protected areas by the start of 2016.

"We made the decision because we are concerned over the global decline in all pollinators, bees and butterflies," US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) spokeswoman Miel Corbet explained to press on Monday, as reported by the Associated Press.

According to Corbet, the FWS made the decision to start phasing out the pesticides called neonicotinoids after a great deal of scientific evidence suggested that they may be one of the main causes of honeybee population declines.

Nature World News has previously reported how neonicotinoids can encourage Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) - a condition that causes wintering bees to suddenly wake up and abandon their hives, only to die in frigid temperatures. A more recent report has found that even if gardens are not treated with the pesticide directly, plants purchased at chain gardening stores may have been pre-treated with this toxin that can last for years.

A FWS memorandum dated July 9 details how these pesticides are often coated on the outsides of seeds, and can be taken up by an entire plant.

According to the document, the FWS doesn't know exactly how much of its 8,710 acres of National Wildlife Refuge System Land could be contaminated, but efforts and investigations for the remainder of this year and into the next will be dedicated to finding out.

The Centers for Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Center for Food Safety (CFS) expressed their pleasure with this FWS decision, but say that it is only the first step towards a more permanent solution.

"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," Paige Tomaselli, senior attorney with CFS, said in a CBD release. "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 phase-out of these pesticides will start with parts of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Hawaii and will reportedly be completed by January 2016.

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