Eugene Non-Profit Works to Ban Pesticide Responsible for Major Bee Die-off

By Rachael McDonald

An estimated 25-thousand bumblebees were found dead in a parking lot in Wilsonville (Oregon) this week. The Oregon Department of Agriculture has confirmed the killer is an insecticide recently sprayed on nearby Linden trees. in Eugene, an effort is underway to stop the use of the chemical in city parks.

Lisa Arkin with the Eugene non-profit Beyond Toxics has been working to eliminate the use of neonicotinoids in Eugene parks. The popular pesticide is known to kill bees. Public Works confirms the chemical is no longer being sprayed. Arkin has asked the Eugene City Council to pass an ordinance to prohibit the insecticide on public property.

Arkin: “And that’s one of the best things a local government can do is set a model that can then be adopted by other local governments, eventually state governments, and national governments. And it can be done because we know that in the European Union, this class of insecticides has been banned.”

Scott Black with the Xerces Society of Portland is heartened by the changes taking place in Eugene. He believes the die off of Wilsonville bees is the biggest of its kind in history. The Linden Trees in the lot have been covered in nets to prevent more bees from dying.

Oregon Department of Agriculture is still investigating the incident to determine if the pesticide application was in violation of state and federal pesticide regulations.

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