Saturday, February 4th, 2023
Saturday, February 4th, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Neonics hurting non-target species

Photo by Steve Oehlenschlager

So neonicotinoids are manufactured and used to kill pests, period.

The truth is that “neonics” also kill and harm much more than pests. They kill many living things that we desire, enjoy, and need, including butterflies and bees and other pollinators, but neonics also have adverse and fatal effects on pheasants and deer and likely other animals.

How can this be allowed?

State Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul, recently said studies about neonics’ impacts on pheasants “echoes the historical impacts of DDT.” (Star Tribune, Sept. 10, 2022.)

Hansen, chair of the House Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy
Committee, can make it his task to address this significant problem,
which in many ways is like other environmental problems caused by
agricultural interests including powerful chemical manufactures and
lobbying groups.

Neonics are used in other non-ag areas, and that’s a concern, but ag areas are
much more vast than are the backyards where they are used.

A summary of some of the known problems is in order. I will start with Minnesota studies.

The Minnesota DNR reports there is widespread use of neonicotinoids. “In
North America, of the 133 million acres of corn, soybean, wheat, cotton,
and sorghum treated with pesticides, 98% were treaded with
neonicotinoids.”

The DNR found that 61% of deer spleens tested had neonics present. What was concerning was it was found in all areas of the state, including areas with low agricultural
land use. So what is the problem with neonics and deer? They affect fawn
development.

In South Dakota, the effects of neonics on deer has been studied, and similar
results were found. Additionally, South Dakota studied neonics levels in
pheasants and the effects on reproductivity. The studies concluded,
“While these chemicals can be lethal, sub-lethal doses may also directly
affect the breeding effectiveness of non-target animals.”

Over the years, we have had discussions about how agriculturally used
pesticides and herbicides adversely affect pheasants and other wildlife.
At some point, don’t we stop and outlaw these chemicals?

The threats to animals by neonics are nothing new. But, so is that there’s nothing new being done to address the problems.

In 2016, Gov. Mark Dayton issued an executive order requiring farmers to report neonics use. However, it has produced little results and, according to the DNR, the state
Department of Agriculture says it doesn’t have the authority to regulate
treated seeds.

The thing is, we know neonics are a problem, and the Department of
Agriculture has to know it, but other business concerns prevail. Given
that agricultural use of neonics is a problem, does it not seem the
Department of Agriculture could see to it that something is done to stop
the use of this pesticide?

Maybe there is a different state agency that should address the problem.
These chemicals should be banned simply due to their killing of
pollinators.

It’s good to continue to study the effects of neonics, but it’s time to conclude
that it’s time to act. In 2013, the European Union banned the use of
neonics. But now we know there are adverse effects and maybe unknown
risks to other animals. Should we not simply expect our state’s
officials and legislators to act for the good of all?

I hope Rep. Hansen is thinking the same thing.

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