California bees and birds to receive increased protections from toxic insecticide

The California Fish and Game Commission has finalized a regulation prohibiting the larger Department of Fish and Wildlife from using certain toxic insecticides on lands under its jurisdiction.

Specifically, the action will forbid the application of neonicotinoid pesticides — often called “neonics” — which pose a threat to birds, bees and other critical pollinators. The ban will pertain to “Department lands,” some of which include state wildlife refuges.

The regulation is the result of a 2017 petition filed by Earthjustice on behalf of the American Bird Conservancy, which detailed the devastating impacts of neonics on native bird populations.

When the new rules take effect on July 1, they will impact more than 1 million acres of fish and wildlife habitat, ecological reserves and other lands, according to Earthjustice.

“Systemic insecticides like neonicotinoids have no place on public lands. They are harmful to a wide variety of species and the biodiversity throughout ecosystems,” Greg Loarie, an attorney for Earthjustice, said in a statement.

The regulation, Loarie continued, will serve to “protect California’s birds, bees, and beyond,”

Hardy Kern, director of government relations for the American Bird Conservancy, stressed that California hosts “dozens of state and federally listed bird species,” as well as millions of individual birds that migrate through the area every year.

“By prohibiting neonics on state lands, the Fish and Game Commission have made California a leader in habitat protection for all wildlife, and serve as a model to the rest of the country,” Kern added.

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