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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)' Category


13
Jun

Bird Conservation Needs Help from Policy Makers

(Beyond Pesticides, June 13, 2022) Birds are beautiful. They fill our world with color, song, and acrobatics. Most songbirds eat insects during the nesting season, thus contributing to management of insects in crops and gardens. It is no wonder that Rachel Carson chose their absence as an indicator of ecosystem collapse in Silent Spring. Tell your U.S. Senators to cosponsor S. 4187, the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Enhancements Act. Tell your U.S. Senators and Representative to ensure that EPA does not allow pesticides that threaten birds or their insect food supply.  It’s not always easy to be a bird. About half of the world’s bird species migrate up to tens of thousands of miles each year. Whether at home or on the way to warmer climates for the winter, birds face harsh weather conditions, barriers like windows and radio towers, and the problem of storing enough energy for the flight in a tiny body. About 72 million birds are killed by pesticides and other toxic chemicals every year. In addition, pesticide use has contributed to the collapse of insect populations—the source of protein and fat that birds need to raise their young. Congress has passed laws to help prevent a […]

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29
Apr

Texas AG Tells Fed Endangered Habitat Should Not Stand in Way of Border Wall

(Beyond Pesticides, April 29, 2022) The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS’s) plan to list a rare milkweed species, and the areas in which it grows in south Texas, as critical and endangered has garnered political pushback from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. In February, FWS announced its intention to list 691 acres of prostrate milkweed habitat in order to protect it, given its critical role in supporting monarch butterfly populations. But Attorney General (AG) Paxton sent a letter to FWS saying that the critical and endangered determination “would further destabilize Texas’s border, hindering the construction of the border wall,” and that it would risk security on the border with Mexico. FWS countered with a press release stating that, “This listing and critical habitat proposal is based on the best available science, including a species status assessment that included input and review from academia and state agencies.” The 1973 Endangered Species Act (ESA) mandates that federal agencies, in consultation with FWS and/or the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Service, ensure that any actions in which they engage (whether authorizing, implementing, or funding) are unlikely to jeopardize the existence of a listed species, or have negative impacts on […]

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15
Apr

Beyond Pesticides Makes Science-based Case that It Is Imperative to Phase Out Pesticides in a Decade

The organic solutions to problems highlighted in the latest issue of Pesticides and You—based on the importance of healthy ecosystems and public health protection—are within reach, and the data creates an imperative for action now that phases out pesticides within a decade, while ensuring food productivity, resilient land management, and safe food, air, and water. (Beyond Pesticides, April 15, 2022) The current issue of Pesticides and You, RETROSPECTIVE 2021: A Call to Urgent Action, is a look at a year of science, policy, and advocacy that informs both the existential problems that the U.S. and the world are facing due to toxic pesticide dependency, and solutions that can be adopted now. The information in this issue captures the body of science that empowers action at the local, state, and federal level, and provides a framework for challenging toxic pesticide use and putting alternatives in place. The issue finds that 2021 was a pivotal year in both defining the problem and advancing the solution. This year in review is divided into nine sections that provide an accounting of scientific findings documenting serious pesticide-induced health and environmental effects, disproportionate risk to people of color and those with preexisting conditions, regulatory failures, at the same time […]

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30
Mar

Animals in Wildlife Sanctuaries at Greater Risk of Pesticide Exposure from Internal Agricultural Practices

(Beyond Pesticides, March 30, 2022) An article by the Audubon Society covers ongoing advocacy to end pesticide spraying in wildlife refuges. Wildlife refuges act as a sanctuary, providing habitat and protection essential for the survival and recovery of species nationwide. However, portions of the wildlife sanctuary can have agricultural uses, allowing farmers to cultivate crops on various acres, subsequently applying pesticides. Pesticide spraying in or around wildlife refuges threatens the survivability and recovery of species that inhabit the area. Moreover, many of these pesticides are highly toxic to human and animal health. Analyses like these are significant, especially since the globe is currently going through the Holocene Extinction, Earth’s 6th mass extinction, with one million species of plants and animals at risk. With the increasing rate of biodiversity loss, advocates say it is essential for government agencies to enforce policies that eliminate pesticide use in wildlife refuges. Ending pesticide applications in sanctuaries can protect the well-being of animals, humans, and the ecosystem. Hannah Connor, senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), notes, “It’s not a huge economic driver of the refuge system, and it is truly problematic in terms of fulfilling its mission and goals[…]. That just means it should be […]

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21
Mar

Government Inaction Threatens Endangered Species, Calls for Action

(Beyond Pesticides, March 21, 2022) With a history of unenforceable and impractical pesticide label restrictions resulting in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) findings of ludicrously small or no risk, the agency is at it again with its latest announcement that spins its approval of the continued use of the deadly organophosphate insecticide malathion as “protecting threatened and endangered species.” This just the latest example of an irresponsible federal agency falling far short, as the nation and world sit on the brink of biodiversity collapse and deadly pesticide-induced diseases. Tell EPA to protect endangered species. Tell Congress to make sure the Biden administration protects endangered species.  The announcement follows the release of a final biological opinion by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), which, according to the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), “relies on scientifically unfounded assessment methods imposed during the Trump administration [and] stands in sharp contrast to the agency’s 2017 conclusion that 1,284 species would likely be jeopardized by malathion.” Meanwhile, the National Marine Fisheries Service, a sister agency to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, released an updated biological opinion that determined malathion and two other toxic organophosphate pesticides are causing jeopardy to virtually every endangered U.S. salmon, sturgeon, […]

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31
Jan

Take Action to Protect Manatees: Toxic Runoff Is Killing Them

(Beyond Pesticides, January 31, 2022) Public concern is now heightened as Florida manatees are facing extremely severe threats—so severe that wildlife officials have resorted to feeding them cabbage and lettuce in an attempt to keep their rapidly dwindling populations alive. Protecting manatees will require a multi-faceted approach, including upgrading their status to endangered and protecting their watery habitat from toxic threats. Tell the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to upgrade the Florida manatee to endangered and require protection from chemical pollution. Tell your Congressional Representative and Senators to support H.R. 4946. Tell Florida’s Governor DeSantis to protect manatees. Florida manatees, a subspecies of the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus), can live as long as 60 years old, weigh up to 1,200 lbs, and have no natural predators. The biggest threat to these peaceful marine mammals is human activity. Humans harm manatees directly through boat strikes and encounters with fishing equipment, canal locks, and other flood control structures, but the largest threat comes from chemical pollutants. In 2017, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service downgraded Florida manatees from fully endangered to threatened status under the Endangered Species Act. However, with recent reports indicating that over 1,000 manatees died in just the […]

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27
Jan

Manatees in Florida Seriously Threatened from Pollution, Pesticides, and Other Human-Induced Stressors

(Beyond Pesticides, January 27, 2022) Wildlife officials in Florida have resorted to supplementing starving manatees with cabbage and lettuce in an attempt to keep their rapidly dwindling populations alive. Massive Red Tides exacerbated by runoff from urban and agricultural pollution have directly killed off dozens of manatees over the last several years, but the indirect effects of these harmful algae blooms have been most catastrophic, resulting in significant loss of the seagrass beds upon which manatees rely. While Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has announced plans to spend $481 million on water quality improvement projects, conservationists note that the funds are primarily directed toward point source wastewater treatment, and more is needed to address nonpoint source herbicide and fertilizer runoff from agricultural, and urban and suburban yards. Florida manatees, a subspecies of the West Indian manatee, can live as long as 60 years old, weigh up to 1,200 lbs, and have no natural predators within their range. The biggest threat to these peaceful marine mammals is human activity and environmental stressors. Unfortunately, the former is well-known to exacerbate the latter. Humans harm manatees primarily through boat strikes, but the animals can also die from eating or becoming entangled in fishing equipment, […]

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29
Nov

Aerial Drop of Rodenticides on Farallon Islands in California Threatens Ecosystem, Comments Due

(Beyond Pesticides, November 29, 2021) The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is reviving its proposal to aerially apply (by helicopter) the toxic rodenticide brodifacoum to kill house mice on the Farallon Islands National Wildlife Refuge off the Northern California coast. Globally significant wildlife populations inhabit the Farallones, including hundreds of thousands of seabirds and thousands of seals and sea lions. According to FWS, these include: thirteen species seabird species that nest on the islands including Leach’s Storm-petrel, Ashy Storm-petrel, Fork-tailed Storm-petrel, Double-crested Cormorant, Brandt’s Cormorant, Pelagic Cormorant, Black Oystercatcher, Western Gull, Common Murre, Pigeon Guillemot, Cassin’s Auklet, Rhinocerous Auklet, and Tufted Puffin; pinnipeds including Northern fur seals, Steller sea lions, California sea lions, harbor seals, and northern elephant seals that breed or haul-out onto Farallon Refuge; and endemic species including white sharks, hoary bats, and arboreal salamanders. Tell the California Coastal Commission to deny the proposed aerial dispersal of the highly toxic rodenticide brodifacoum on the Farallon Islands. Brodifacoum is a “second generation anticoagulant rodenticide” (SGAR) that is highly toxic to birds, mammals, and fish. It also poses a secondary poisoning risk to predators. The California Department of Pesticide Regulation quotes the FWS: “Secondary exposure to SGARs is particularly […]

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25
Oct

Protect Endangered Species: Comment by End of Today—Monday, October 25

(Beyond Pesticides, October 25, 2021) The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is requesting public comments on its draft Biological Evaluations (BEs) for neonicotinoid insecticides imidacloprid, clothianidin, and thiamethoxam by 11:59 pm (EDT) on Monday, October 25, 2021. The BEs will factor into EPA’s registration review decisions on the three bee-toxic insecticides. Written comments must be submitted through Regulations.gov. Please feel free to cut and paste parts of  Beyond Pesticides’ comments (linked here) or cut and paste into Regulations.gov the suggested comment language at the very bottom of this alert.  Tell EPA to protect endangered species from pesticides. EPA’s Biological Evaluations for these highly toxic chemicals make no agency conclusion or recommendation that would trigger a request to initiate formal Endangered Species Act (ESA) §7(a)(2) consultations with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to determine a possible jeopardy finding for the listed species and requisite mandatory use restrictions of the relevant pesticide. This, despite the fact that for imidacloprid the agency’s draft Biological Evaluation made a May Affect determination for 89% of the 1821 species considered and 90% of the 791 critical habitats considered. Strikingly, a May Affect determination was made for 100% of amphibian and avian listed species and their […]

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05
Oct

American Bumblebee Considered for Endangered Status, But Will “Critical Habitat” Be Defined?

(Beyond Pesticides, October 5, 2021) The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) will consider listing the American bumblebee (Bombus pensylvanicus) under the Endangered Species Act, according to a notice published in the Federal Register late last month. Earlier this year, the Bombus Pollinator Association of Law Students at Albany Law School and the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the agency to list the species. USFWS review of the petition indicates that it found “substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned actions may be warranted,” and will determine over the next year whether final listing and further protective actions are warranted.  With the American bumblebee experiencing an 89% decline in its population over the last 20 years, scientists and advocates  believe it is critical for USFWS to take steps to protect what remains of this iconic species. At one time, the American bumblebee’s range extended from eastern Canada south through the United States into Florida, and as far west as California. Oregon is the only state in the continental US where the species has never been spotted. Declines are particularly pronounced in the northern part of its range, where recent sightings are nil, and assessments for states like New […]

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22
Feb

Help Get Congress to Support National Biodiversity Strategy Legislation

(Beyond Pesticides, February 22, 2021) Congressional Rep. Joe Neguse, Rep. Alan Lowenthal and Chair of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife Rep. Jared Huffman have reintroduced their resolution (H.Res. 69: Expressing the need for the Federal Government to establish a national biodiversity strategy for protecting biodiversity for current and future) to create a national biodiversity strategy. Everywhere we turn, we see signs of ecological collapse—wildfires, the insect apocalypse, crashing populations of marine organisms, more and more species at risk, rising global temperatures, unusual weather patterns, horrific storms, and pandemics. Never was a holistic strategy on biodiversity more urgent. Tell your U.S. Representative to cosponsor Rep. Neguse’s National Biodiversity Strategy Resolution, H.Res. 69. The resolution calls for a natio. 69.nal commitment to addressing the biodiversity crisis by establishing a strategy to be developed through an interagency process announced by the president in an Executive Order. The strategy process will encourage agencies to identify and pursue a full range of actions within existing laws and policies and encourage consideration of new ones. It would also promote accountability and progress in addressing the biodiversity crisis through a new quadrennial assessment. “The decline of biodiversity presents a direct threat to the security, […]

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10
Feb

Groups Urge Endangered Species Listing for American Bumblebee after 89% Population Decline

(Beyond Pesticides, February 10, 2021) Pollinator advocates are petitioning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to list the American bumblebee (Bombus pensylvanicus) under the Endangered Species Act. The petitioners are the Bombus Pollinator Association of Law Students at Albany Law School and the Center for Biological Diversity. Like many other wild pollinators, the American bumblebee has undergone dramatic reductions in recent decades. According to petitioners, the last 20 years saw an 89% decline in the pollinator’s population. Declines of the American bumblebee have occurred throughout its range, which encompasses 47 of the lower 48 states. However, there are also particularly hard hit regions. In New York, for instance, the pollinators have experienced a stunning 99% decline in relative abundance. Midwestern populations are also severely affected. Losses have followed in lock step with declines in the rusty patched bumblebee, which was listed as endangered in 2017. While the rusty patched has lost 90% of its midwestern range, the American bumblebee has experienced 83% declines. The petitioners note that the American bumblebee declined across a larger land area, and in several states where it was once the most populous pollinator. The causes behind these catastrophic declines are familiar to many pollinator […]

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08
Feb

Tell Agencies—New Executive Order Requires Bold Regulatory Action to Confront Environmental Crises

(Beyond Pesticides, February 8, 2021) Immediately following his inauguration, President Biden issued an Executive Order (EO) directing the heads of all executive departments and agencies to produce recommendations for improving and modernizing regulatory review, with a goal of promoting public health and safety, economic growth, social welfare, racial justice, environmental stewardship, human dignity, equity, and the interests of future generations. This Executive Order, if effective, will  reverse the historical trend of status-quo regulatory reviews required by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that typically support vested economic interests of polluters (e.g., petroleum-based pesticide and fertilizer manufacturers). Instead, the President’s EO, Modernizing Regulatory Review, sets the stage for the adoption of agency policy across government to seriously and with urgency confront the climate crisis, biodiversity collapse, and disproportionate harm to people of color communities (environmental racism). Key agencies that can have a systemic effect in meeting these existential challenges are the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Interior (DOI), Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Department of Labor/Occupational Safety and Health Administration (DOL/OSHA). But the EO will remain words on a page unless we all across the country exercise our voice and advocate for the changes necessary to end […]

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05
Feb

Biden Executive Orders Set the Stage for Systemic Change, If Words Turn to Action

(Beyond Pesticides, February 5, 2021) The American public has witnessed, in the barely launched tenure of President Joe Biden, a surge of Executive Orders (EOs). Based on the first flurry of orders, much of the Biden “reset” appears gauged to beat back Trump policies that worsened an already inadequate regulatory system, and to reconfigure federal operations and regulations so as to address and solve the biggest threats (beyond COVID) the country faces. Among the high-profile EOs already issued are three that stand out. One recalibrates the operations of the OMB (Office of Management and Budget) to forward health, racial equity, and environmental stewardship. A second and third seek, respectively, to restore scientific integrity and elevate the role of science across the federal government, and to tackle comprehensively the climate crisis with a “whole of government” approach. Beyond Pesticides welcomes these early efforts, and maintains that vigilance and robust advocacy will be necessary to achieve needed paradigmatic change across federal agencies, which exist to protect and support the American people. EOs are tools the President can wield to manage directly some operations of the federal government. They are seen as muscular and immediate means through which to change course, particularly in […]

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02
Feb

Court Settlement Requires EPA to Review How Bee-Killing Pesticide Harms Endangered Species

(Beyond Pesticides, February 2, 2021) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will evaluate the effect of the neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid on endangered species, after an agreement was reached between the agency and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Imidacloprid is one of the most commonly used insecticides in the world today and, like other neonicotinoids in its chemical class, has been linked to a range of adverse impacts on wildlife and their habitat. While the agreement to the assess effects on endangered species is important, advocates note that EPA should already have conducted this review, and further, that imidacloprid and other neonicotinoids should already be banned. NRDC’s successful lawsuit follows a separate legal challenge by the Center for Food Safety, Beyond Pesticides, beekeepers, and other environmental organizations which was settled in 2019. The judge in that case, focused on the neonicotinoids clothianidin and thiamethoxam, did not order EPA to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) (which is required when registering a pesticide in order to mitigate risks to endangered species). Instead, she directed the parties, including the plaintiffs, defendant EPA, and intervenor Bayer CropScience (the manufacturer of neonicotinoids), to move forward […]

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01
Feb

TAKE ACTION: Save Monarch Butterflies from Extinction!  

(Beyond Pesticides, February 1, 2021) The yearly winter monarch count along the California coast, overseen each year by the conservation group Xerces Society, was the lowest ever. In 2020, citizen scientists counted only 2,000 butterflies. The findings indicate that many on the planet today are, within their lifetimes, likely to experience a world where western monarchs are extinct. Tell the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list monarch butterflies on the list of threatened and endangered species. Tell the Environmental Protection Agency to eliminate pollinator poisons. Western monarchs migrate from the Pacific Northwest to overwintering grounds along the California coast, where they remain in relatively stationary clusters that are easy to count. In the 1980s, roughly 10 million monarchs overwintered along the coast. By the 1990s, that number fell to 1.2 million. Five years ago, counts were at roughly 300,000. By 2019, numbers crashed below 30,000. This year’s count saw no monarchs at well-known overwintering sites like Pacific Grove. Other locations, like Pismo State Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove and National Bridges State Park, saw only a few hundred. “These sites normally host thousands of butterflies, and their absence this year was heartbreaking for volunteers and visitors flocking to these locales hoping […]

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27
Jan

Monarch Butterfly Near Extinction—Calls for Urgent Federal Action

(Beyond Pesticides, January 27, 2021) Lowest ever recorded! That’s the result of a yearly winter monarch count along the California coast, overseen each year by the conservation group Xerces Society. In 2020, citizen scientists counted only 2,000 butterflies. The findings indicate that many on the planet today are likely to experience, within their lifetimes, a world where western monarchs are extinct—unless the federal government acts now. Western monarchs migrate from the Pacific Northwest to overwintering grounds along the California coast, where they remain in relatively stationary clusters that are easy to count.  In the 1980s, roughly 10 million monarchs overwintered along the coast. By the 1990s, that number fell into the low single digits, roughly 1.2 million. Five years ago counts were at roughly 300,000. By 2019, numbers crashed below 30,000. This year’s count saw no monarchs at iconic overwintering sites like Pacific Grove. Other locations, like Pismo State Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove and National Bridges State Park saw only a few hundred. “These sites normally host thousands of butterflies, and their absence this year was heartbreaking for volunteers and visitors flocking to these locales hoping to catch a glimpse of the awe-inspiring clusters of monarch butterflies,” said Sarina Jepsen, […]

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01
Oct

Court Rejects Case to Reinstate Environmental Protections on U.S. Wildlife Refuges, as Report Shows Increasing Pesticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, October 1, 2020) A federal judge on September 24, 2020 dismissed an  environmental lawsuit seeking to reinstate a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) rule, killed by the Trump Administration, which banned the use of neonicotinoid insecticides, genetically engineered (GE) crops, and adopted a precautionary approach to pest management. The decision comes on the heels of a Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) analysis that reports a 34% increase in the pesticide use on U.S. national wildlife refuge acres over a two year period from 2016-2018. This analysis is an update to CBD’s 2018 report, No Refuge, which is the first of its kind to offer comprehensive details of agricultural pesticide spraying in national wildlife refuges. Wildlife refuges act as a sanctuary, providing habitat and protection essential for the survival and recovery of species nationwide. However, pesticide spraying in or around wildlife refuges threatens the survivability and recovery of species that reside there as many of these pesticides are highly toxic to human and animal health. Analyses like these are significant, especially since the globe is currently going through the Holocene Extinction, Earth’s 6th mass extinction, with one million species of plants and animals at risk of extinction. In 2012, […]

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15
Jun

Take Action: Tell Congress to Save Our Oceans from Trump’s Executive Order

(Beyond Pesticides, June 15, 2020)  On May 7, President Trump issued an executive order (EO) purporting to “promote American seafood competitiveness and economic growth,” while, in fact, permitting offshore aquaculture in federal waters with reduced environmental safeguards. Instead, we need stronger federal regulation in order to protect the environment and public health. This EO adds to the Trump Administration’s shameful record of dismantling environmental protections, failing to enforce those that do exist, undermining science, and weighing agrochemical and other industry interests over those of the public and the environment. The EO will further erode regulations that have governed the operation of so-called “fish farms” and open enormous marine areas to exploitation by this industry. Tell Congress to save our oceans. U.S. aquaculture is a $1.5 billion industry, with almost 3,000 operations. Regulation of aquaculture is shared by a number of federal, state, and local agencies. Much of the regulation is at the state and local level because each state and locality may regulate permitting based on zoning, water use, waste discharge, wildlife management, processing, and other aspects of aquaculture operations.  Trump’s EO reduces federal regulation by designating the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as the lead agency in the […]

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12
Jun

Milkweed in Western Monarch Habitat Found to be Completely Contaminated with Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, June 12, 2020) New research finds that western monarch milkweed habitat contains a “ubiquity of pesticides” that are likely contributing to the decline of the iconic species. The research, published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, provides a grim snapshot of a world awash in pesticides, and raises new questions about the U.S. regulatory process that continues to allow these toxic chemicals on to the market without adequate review and oversight. “We expected to find some pesticides in these plants, but we were rather surprised by the depth and extent of the contamination,” said Matt Forister, PhD, a butterfly expert, biology professor at the University of Nevada, Reno and co-author of the paper in a press release. “From roadsides, from yards, from wildlife refuges, even from plants bought at stores—doesn’t matter from where—it’s all loaded with chemicals. We have previously suggested that pesticides are involved in the decline of low elevation butterflies in California, but the ubiquity and diversity of pesticides we found in these milkweeds was a surprise,” Dr. Forister said. The researchers collected over 200 milkweed samples from nearly 20 different sites across the Central Valley of California, as well as from retailers that sell milkweed […]

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06
Apr

Stop Dangerous Proposal to Allow Genetically Engineered Crops on National Wildlife Refuges in Southeast U.S.

(Beyond Pesticides, April 6, 2020) The Trump administration’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is moving forward with a proposal to grow genetically engineered crops (GECs) on National Wildlife Refuges in the Southeast United States, including 131 refuges in 10 states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Ask Congress to help stop the dangerous proposal to allow genetically engineered crops on National Wildlife Refuges in the southeast United States. The proposal is the subject of a draft environmental assessment and opens the door to escalating uses of GE crops and harmful pesticides in wildlife refuges. In 2014, public pressure and lawsuits by environmental groups led to the Obama administration’s decision to phase out GE crops and ban neonicotinoid insecticide use on national wildlife refuges. On August 2, 2018, the Trump administration’s USFWS issued a memorandum that reversed the prohibition. The reversal allows the refuge system to make decisions on the use of GECs and neonics on a case-by-case basis in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which is also under attack by the Trump administration. The Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, and others quickly challenged the 2018 reversal memorandum with a lawsuit. National Wildlife Refuges are federal public lands specifically designated to […]

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25
Mar

Trump Administration’s Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Planting of Genetically Engineered Crops in Southeast National Wildlife Refuges

(Beyond Pesticides, March 25, 2020) The Trump administration’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is moving forward with a proposal to grow genetically engineered crops (GECs) on national wildlife refuges in the Southeast United States. The draft environmental assessment allows wildlife to consume pesticide-laden produce, considers chemical-intensive genetically engineered crops no less damaging to the environment than “non-use of GECs,” and permits and escalation of climate change with toxic pesticide use increases. USFW’s proposal fails to mention the success of organic agriculture and consider it as one of the alternative management strategies. The proposal is up for public comment until April 10, 2020. In 2014, public pressure and lawsuits by environmental groups led to the Obama administration’s decision to phase out GE crops and ban neonicotinoid insecticide use on national wildlife refuges. On August 2, 2018, the Trump administration’s USFWS issued a memorandum that reversed the prohibition. The reversal allows the refuge system to make decisions on the use of GECs and neonics on a case-by-case basis in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which is also under attack by the Trump administration. The Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, and others quickly challenged the 2018 […]

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17
Mar

Monarch Population, Under Threat from Pesticide Use and Habitat Loss, Declines by Half in One Year

(Beyond Pesticides, March 17, 2020) The number of monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico is down 53% from last year, according to a count conducted by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Mexico. While WWF indicates the decline was expected due to unfavorable weather conditions during the species southward migration, other environmental groups are raising red flags. “Scientists were expecting the count to be down slightly, but this level of decrease is heartbreaking,” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Monarchs unite us, and more protections are clearly needed for these migratory wonders and their habitat.” WWF’s count found that monarchs occupied seven acres this winter, down from 15 acres last year. Reports indicate that 15 acres is a minimum threshold needed to prevent a collapse of the butterfly’s migration and possible extinction. This was the goal stated by the 2015 White House Pollinator Task Force, which the current administration is failing to see through. While weather conditions play an important role in monarch migration from the U.S. and Canada south to Mexico, the species is under threat from a range of environmental factors. Monarchs depend on milkweed plants to lay eggs, and monarch caterpillars feed solely on […]

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