Washington state officials seek new tools to combat invasive giant hornets

SEATTLE (AP) — The Washington State Department of Agriculture is moving forward with new rules that would give them more tools to combat the spread of invasive Asian giant hornets.

The pests, first detected in the U.S. in Washington state in late 2019, pose a threat to bees, KING5 reported. A handful of the hornets can wipe out entire hives in a short amount of time.

Throughout 2020, the Department of Agriculture tracked and trapped the hornets. Late in the year, they identified and destroyed the first nest inside a tree in Blaine. About 200 queens were found, all with the potential to start their own nest.

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Now, the department is proposing new rules that would empower them to further pursue and limit the hornets’ spread. The agency seeks to impose a quarantine on all live hornets, which would outlaw the sale, distribution or knowing movement of hornets in Washington.

The rule would also allow WSDA to declare an “infested site” for 20 meters around a nest, even on private property. This would give officials the legal authority to control access to the site, and eradicate it.

By targeting all hornets, officials hope to be prepared for further potential invasive species down the road. The proposed rule is open for public comment, and a virtual meeting is scheduled for May 11. As scheduled, it could take effect by summer 2021.

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