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FWS Bans Controversial Pesticides in Refuge System


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Red-winged blackbirds take off en-masse at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. The ban on neonicotinoids is geared towards protecting wildlife like these birds. (Credit: Michael Rosenbaum)

Red-winged blackbirds take off en-masse at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. The ban on neonicotinoids is geared towards protecting wildlife like these birds. (Credit: Michael Rosenbaum)

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced last month that the use of neonicotinoid pesticides will be phased out throughout the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS) by 2016. In a memorandum to regional refuge chiefs, NWRS Chief James Kurth reasoned that the pesticides can “distribute systematically in a plant and can potentially affect a broad spectrum of non-target species.”

Controversy over the neonicotinoids stems from studies that link the pesticide family to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a phenomenon that is taking a heavy toll on bee populations throughout the world. Last year, the European Commission enacted a two-year moratorium on the pesticides and calls for a U.S. ban are growing.

Many environmental and sportsmen groups support the move given rising concern over the pesticide’s effect on wildlife and their habitat.

The National Wildlife Refuge System consists of 560 separate refuges that manage almost 150 million acres of land for wildlife and recreation. Nearly 47.5 million people visited refuges last year to see the natural habitat and take advantage of recreational opportunities.

The memo also informs the regional chiefs about the FWS’s goal of transitioning from agricultural land to more natural ecosystems in refuges in order to reduce their carbon footprint and improve wildlife conditions.

Sources: USFWS (July 17, 2014), Greenwire (August 1, 2014), New York Times (March 29, 2012), NWRS website (Accessed August 6, 2014), CARE (June 24, 2014)



This article was automatically imported from The Wildlife Society's policy news feed.

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