The Oregon Department of Agriculture has fined pesticide company Collier Arbor Care and four of its employees for the deaths of thousands of bumblebees. The department issued civil penalties and notices of violations to the company for four separate incidents this year.
The most notable incident killed 50,000 bumblebees at a Target parking lot in Wilsonville, Ore. Collier employees incorrectly applied a pesticide to blooming linden trees. The company and two employees will each pay $555 for the incident.
The fine includes a smaller incident in downtown Portland, for which the company and two other employees will pay $407 each.
The department also investigated bee kills in Hillsboro and West Linn, Ore. Collier received notices of violation for the bee kill in Wilsonville and West Linn. Those notices were for incomplete pesticide application records and employing a pesticide applicator who did not have the correct license. Investigators did not find any wrongdoing in the Hillsboro incident.
Collier Arbor Care said the company is appealing the penalties.
Bruce Pokarney, a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Agriculture, said he did not know of any previous pesticide violations by Collier. He said the state is working to better educate commercial pesticide companies.
For companies to get recertified, “There’ll be some test questions that they’ll have to answer that are very directly related to their knowledge of pollinator protection,” Pokarney said.
In general, commercial pesticide companies must be recertified every five years, Pokarney said.
To prevent future bee kills, the Oregon Department of Agriculture has prohibited the use of pesticides containing the ingredients dinotefuran and imidicloprid on Tilia tree species, like linden trees. Officials believe when these two ingredients can be fatal to bees, when they are applied on trees that have their own natural toxicity.
The products can still be used in other applications but must have a state-wide label to be sold in Oregon. Pokarney said Oregon is the first state to take these precautions.