Letter to the editor: Pesticides hurting our fish populations?

Pesticides hurting our fish populations?

Received May 12

I suspect that I’ve stumbled upon another reason why the “catching” part of our overall fishing experiences here in the Intermountain West has become less rewarding recently: The fish we’re seeking simply aren’t there anymore.

One reason why “neonicotinoids” has become the world’s most popular class of agricultural pesticides during the last 2-3 decades is that they are easy to use: they’re very “durable” (don’t degrade quickly) meaning that simply applying them to a seed will kill any “bad” bug that eats the plant that eventually grows from it.

Unfortunately that also means that they can kill useful bugs such as honeybees and (more importantly?) the aquatic invertebrates (midges, stoneflies, caddis flies, etc.) that feed most of our more popular game fish during at least one stage of their lives.

Since many of the USA’s streams, lakes and ponds are immediately surrounded by agricultural land that has repeatedly been planted with so-treated seeds, those pesticides have probably found their way into those fisheries which probably renders them far less productive than they were not too long ago - an uncomfortable fact that some fishery managers and their citizen stakeholders/customers seemingly don’t want to “study” or even admit.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has already banned the use of that class of pesticides in its formal refuges (~17,000 acres altogether) in Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon and Washington and the EU has apparently just decided to ban them entirely. We should encourage Idaho’s agricultural/environmental decision makers to follow suit ASAP.

DARRYL SIEMER

Idaho Falls

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