Bumble Bee Kills: Negligence Proven, Fines Inadequate

December 19, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Scott Hoffman Black, Executive Director; (503) 449-3793, sblack@xerces.org

Bumble Bee Kills: Negligence Proven, Fines Inadequate

Loophole-filled labeling forces Oregon Department of Agriculture to levy minimal fines, leaving bees and other pollinators at continued risk.

SALEM, Ore. — The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) today released a report outlining their findings that several bumble bee kills in 2013 were caused by two neonicotinoid insecticides, dinotefuran and imidacloprid. ODA has levied fines because of negligence on the part of applicators totaling $2,886 for bee kills in Wilsonville, downtown Portland and West Linn. No fines were levied in an incident in Hillsboro.

“Unfortunately, these small fines will do little to keep applicators from continuing to apply these pesticides in ways that harm bees,” said Aimee Code, Pesticide Program Coordinator for the Portland-based Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. “Labels need to clearly prohibit uses known to be harmful, and violations need to be punished with larger fines.”

One incident, in a Wilsonville parking lot, caused the largest bumble bee kill ever documented. Over 50,000 bees were killed, destroying as many as 300 colonies. Despite the damage caused, there was no label violation and the company responsible and its two applicators each face a fine of only $555 for negligence.

ODA announced in November a statewide ban on the use of dinotefuran and the closely related pesticide imidacloprid on trees in the genus Tilia, which includes linden and basswood.

“We commend the Oregon Department of Agriculture for taking immediate action to help wrap trees in Wilsonville in the aftermath of the massive bee kill, and for following up with use restrictions on linden and basswood trees,” said Scott Hoffman Black, Executive Director of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. “But these minimal fines and loophole-filled labels show that stronger restrictions are needed if we are to help protect pollinators and other beneficial insects.”

The Xerces Society is also supporting the Saving America’s Pollinators Act, which was sponsored by Congressman Blumenauer (D-OR). This Act calls for the Environmental Protection Agency to suspend the use of imidacloprid, clothianidin, dinotefuran and thiamethoxam (four of the most toxic neonicotinoids) for uses that could impact pollinators until the EPA determines what uses are safe.

“This neonicotinoid ’time out’ is needed so we don’t continue to poison our pollinators while we decide where and when these insecticides may be safe to use,” said Black.

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For More Information
Download a copy of “Are Neonicotinoids Killing Bees? A Review of Research into the Effects of Neonicotinoid Insecticides on Bees, with Recommendations for Action” here

Download a copy of “Beyond the Birds and the Bees. The Effects of Neonicotinoid Insecticides on Agriculturally Important Beneficial Invertebrates” here

Xerces Society pesticide program: http://www.xerces.org/pesticides/

About the Xerces Society
Protecting the Life that Sustains Us
The Xerces Society is a nonprofit organization that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat. Since 1971, the Society has been at the forefront of invertebrate protection, harnessing the knowledge of scientists and the enthusiasm of citizens to implement conservation programs worldwide. To learn more about our work, please visit www.xerces.org.


The Xerces Society • 628 NE Broadway Ste 200, Portland OR 97232 USA • tel 855.232.6639 • fax 503.233.6794 • info@xerces.org
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