Conserving the Nature of America
Draft Mosquito Management Policy Proposes Consistent Approach to Protect Public Health

October 15, 2007


Division of Public Affairs
External Affairs
Telephone: 703-358-2220

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today published in the Federal Register a draft mosquito management policy to provide consistent guidance for determining the conditions under which national wildlife refuges will control mosquitoes.  Publication in the Federal Register opens a 45-day period for public comment on the draft policy. 

The Service hopes to publish a final policy by March 2008 in time to guide refuge mosquito control efforts for the spring 2008 breeding season. 

The Service currently allows some form of mosquito control by state or local vector control agencies under Special Use Permits on approximately 40 national wildlife refuges, most of them coastal refuges.  An interim Director's Order, issued in May 2005, provided guidance and consistency for mosquito management on refuges during the period when the permanent policy was being developed. 

The draft policy states that the Refuge System will allow populations of native mosquito species to exist unimpeded unless they pose a specific wildlife or human health threat.  The draft policy also establishes guidelines for determining when mosquito populations occurring on national wildlife refuges pose a significant enough health threat or health emergency to either humans or wildlife that pesticides may be used on Refuge System lands to control them.  When practical, the Service may also reduce mosquito populations on refuges using management actions that do not involve pesticides.  All mosquito management regimes on Refuge System lands must use effective means of control that pose the lowest risk to wildlife and habitat, according to the draft policy.

"Mosquitoes are a natural component of most wetlands. Therefore, the Service will control populations of native mosquitoes on refuge lands only when they cause an animal or human health threat," said Service Director H. Dale Hall. "Control measures on refuge lands must comply with Federal laws and must be compatible with the purposes and mission of the refuge."

The Service allows pesticide treatments for mosquito population control on National Wildlife Refuge System lands when local, current mosquito population monitoring data have been collected and indicate that refuge-based mosquito populations are contributing to a human or wildlife health threat.  Before any pesticides are applied on refuge lands, an approved pesticide use proposal must be in place.

The draft policy requires that refuge-specific mosquito management plans be developed in coordination with federal, state and/or local public health authorities that have expertise in vector-borne diseases, vector control agencies, and state fish and wildlife agencies.  The plans will identify the specific conditions under which mosquito populations would be managed on the refuge, taking into account the local environment as well as current and historical mosquito-associated health threats.  

The Service would also, where appropriate, collaborate with federal, state and/or local wildlife agencies, public health authorities, agriculture departments and vector control agencies to conduct education and public outreach activities to protect human and animal health from threats associated with mosquitoes. 

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