Rangeland Pesticide Spraying
May 31, 2022 — Advocates for the West filed a lawsuit challenging the federal U.S. Department of Agriculture’s highly secretive Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) over its program allowing insecticide spraying on millions of acres in 17 western states. The lawsuit focuses on the harm from the insecticide spray program in Montana, Wyoming, Oregon, and Idaho — states that have experienced heavy spraying under the program.
In 2021, APHIS released bids for contracts to aerially spray areas measuring more than 2.6 million acres just in Montana, with one spray block measuring nearly a million acres. In recent years, pesticide spraying has occurred within national wildlife refuges, popular public recreation areas, endangered species habitats, and adjacent to wilderness areas.
More than 230 species protected by the Endangered Species Act may inhabit the areas where spraying is authorized under the APHIS program, including yellow-billed cuckoos, black-footed ferrets, bull trout, Ute ladies’-tresses orchids, Oregon spotted frogs, and Spalding’s catchflies.
May 24, 2022 — Advocates for the West filed a notice of intent to sue APHIS for failing to properly consider harms to endangered species caused by insecticide spraying across millions of acres of western grasslands.
Grassland ecosystems are home to many endangered and threatened species, including flowering plants, mollusks, and many different mammals. Several once-common species on rangelands — including greater sage-grouse, monarch butterflies, and western bumblebees — are in steep decline and are the focus of conservation efforts, including possible listing under the Endangered Species Act. Many protected species depend directly on insects for their food or for pollination.