Company linked to bee deaths: 'We fully accept the sanctions'

EUGENE, Ore. - The tree care company responsible for applying a pesticide that killed 1,000 bees at a Eugene apartment complex last week apologized for the incident.

"I'd just like to give our sincere apology to the City of Eugene, Lane County," said JP Mischkot with Glass Tree Services.

Residents of the apartment complex reported the dead bees to the KVAL Tipline.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture investigated.

On Friday, ODA suspended the tree care company's pesticide applicator license.

"We fully accept the sanctions ODA has put down on us and the license suspension," Mischkot said.

The company was hired to spray the trees for aphids.

He said the company recognized the error and reported it to ODA.

"Upon realizing the mistake was being made, the application was halted immediately," Mischkot said. "We then contacted ODA, reported this to them before they contacted us.

"We're currently working with ODA to mitigate any further damage to the bees."

Mischkot said 30 volunteers helped put tents over the trees to keep any more bees from coming in contact with the pesticide.

"We pride ourselves on being a quality company in this community and work hard to earn the trust of the citizens of Eugene," Mischkot said.

He said the company worked with the state to respond to the situation.

"There's steps where they needed to make sure they were doing the proper thing and we were doing the proper thing, so we were working in conjuction with them," he said. "As soon as we had an action plan in conjuction with them, we jumped all over it and moved as fast as we can."

The state investigation found that an employee of the company applied a pesticide product containing the active ingredient imidacloprid on the grounds of the apartment complex.

Last year, based on high-profile incidents of bee deaths, Oregon adopted a required label statement on pesticide products containing imidacloprid and dinontefuran prohibiting the application of these products on trees like the ones at the apartment complex.

Mischkot praised the state's efforts to educate the industry about the dangers the pesticides pose to bees.

"I think ODA has taken a lot of steps to help the spray community and to make this information available to the applicators," he said. "There were steps immediately after they were made aware of this situation to broadcast and reach out to all pesticide applicators to make them aware of the situation."