The West Virginia Highlands Conservancy has joined with the American Bird Conservancy and numerous other groups in a formal request to the United States Department of the Interior and the Fish and Wildlife Service to ban the use of agricultural pesticides on all National Wildlife Refuges.
The request is based on two facts. First, the entire purpose of the National Wildlife Refuge system is wildlife conservation. Unlike on other public lands, where there may be multiple considerations, the purpose of a Wildlife Refuge is, quite literally, to give wildlife areas of respite, safety, and dependability. The website of the Fish and Wildlife Service’s makes the point that “wildlife conservation drives everything, from the purposes for which each refuge was established, to the recreational activities offered, to the resource management tools used.”
Second, pesticide use can be deadly to wildlife. A 2013 report concluded that a single seed coated with neonicotinoid insecticide is enough to kill a songbird.
If responded to favorably, the request would begin a long process. It asks that the Department of the Interior and the Fish and Wildlife Service establish a rule prohibiting the use of pesticides. A rule must be developed, published as a draft rule, public comments received, etc. before it became final rule.