The AMCA Endangered Species Act (ESA) Subcommittee provided comments on USFWS proposed rule to designate critical habitat for the Florida Bonneted Bat published in the Federal Register on June 10, 2020.
The Committee’s comments focused on ensuring the proposed designation of critical habitat for the Florida bonneted bat does not result in unwarranted public health and economic impacts due to restrictions on mosquito control efforts. Specifically, the committee expressed concerns about the arbitrary inclusion of well-developed residential and business areas as proposed critical habitat. Private lands in Lee, Collier, and Charlotte counties currently receive tax-funded mosquito control services and the inclusion of these areas as critical habitat creates the potential for public health mosquito control services to be impacted.
In addition to the public health risks stated above, restrictions to mosquito control will likely cause economic effects as well. Chapter 388 of the Florida statutes states, “It is declared to be the public policy of this state to achieve and maintain such levels of arthropod control as will protect human health and safety and foster the quality of life of the people, promote the economic development of the state…” Although the Federal Endangered Species Act supersedes Florida law, the incongruency between State and Federal law creates a lose-lose scenario for mosquito control districts who will be asked to extend services in areas that are soon to be developed within the critical habitat proposal.
Finally, the committee was concerned that private landowners and tax-payers who fund mosquito controls services, were not well-informed by the USFWS that their properties are being proposed for inclusion. The economic development of Florida has always been intricately linked to mosquito control services and changes or reductions to these services are likely to impact residents and property-owners negatively.
For a copy of the letter AMCA submitted to the USFWS, please contact Mark Clifton, Chair of the ESA committee, or David Brown, Technical Advisor of the AMCA.
The other issue the Committee is following closely regards a USFWS proposal to more clearly define the word “habitat”. Although the original ESA legislation defined many terms such as “take” and “endangered species” very clearly, the term “habitat” was never explicitly defined. In a recent Supreme Court case, “Weyerhaeuser Company v. United States Fish and Wildlife Service”, the court ruled unanimously that for a location to be deemed “critical habitat” it must first actually be “habitat”. Without a clear definition for what “habitat” actually is, designating “critical habitat” beyond where a species currently resides is problematic. To address this deficiency, the USFWS has proposed two definitions for the word “habitat”. One proposed definition is as follows:
“The physical places that individuals of a species depend upon to carry out one or more life processes. Habitat includes areas with existing attributes that have the capacity to support individuals of the species. ‘
An alternative definition is also being proposed as follows:
“The physical places that individuals of a species use to carry out one or more life processes. Habitat includes areas where individuals of the species do not presently exist but have the capacity to support such individuals, only where the necessary attributes to support the species presently exist.”
Comments will be due September 4. Any concerns about either definition should be directed to the ESA committee or the Technical Advisor.
Clarke Statement on Chlorpyrifos Products
Clarke announced in a press release dated August 18, 2020 that they will be voluntarily “sunsetting” Chlorpyrifos products for Public Health Mosquito Control.
Chlorpyrifos, has been used for public health mosquito control for over 40 years, but has seen its use significantly decline in recent years. Clarke’s chlorpyrifos-based products for the US market will remain commercially available through 2022 and the company will maintain applicable U.S. state registrations to allow customers to use remaining inventory through 2023.
For any additional questions, please contact your local Clarke representative.
Nootkatone Now Registered by EPA
A new active ingredient, discovered and developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has been registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use in insecticides and insect repellents.
Studies show that when products are formulated from the new ingredient, nootkatone, they may repel and kill ticks, mosquitoes, and a wide variety of other biting pests. Nootkatone is responsible for the characteristic smell and taste of grapefruit and is widely used in the fragrance industry to make perfumes and colognes. It is found in minute quantities in Alaska yellow cedar trees and grapefruit skin.
Nootkatone can now be used to develop new insect repellents and insecticides for protecting people and pets. CDC’s licensed partner, Evolva, is in advanced discussions with leading pest control companies for possible commercial partnerships. Companies interested in developing brand name consumer products will be required to submit a registration package to EPA for review, and products could be commercially available as early as 2022.
“CDC is proud to have led the research and development of nootkatone,” said Jay C. Butler, MD, Deputy Director for Infectious Diseases. “Providing new alternatives to existing bite-prevention methods paves the way to solving one of biggest challenges in preventing vector-borne diseases—preventing bites.”
Studies show that when nootkatone is formulated into insect repellents, they may protect from bites at similar rates as products with other active ingredients already available and can provide up to several hours of protection.
Having a new effective ingredient for insecticide available will assist in addressing the growing levels of insecticide-resistance to other products currently in use, according to EPA.
“EPA is pleased to be continuing our partnership with CDC on registering nootkatone, which provides another tool to help protect the American public from biting insects and ticks,” said Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “This new active ingredient has the potential to be used in future insect repellents and pesticides that will protect people from disease. In many areas of the United States, mosquitoes have become resistant to currently available pesticides. A new active ingredient in our toolbox will help vector-control programs.”