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For Immediate Release, January 26, 2024

Sharon Selvaggio, Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, (503) 704-0327, [email protected]
Taylor McKinnon, Center for Biological Diversity, (801) 300-2414, [email protected]


GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz.— The federal Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is proposing to spray toxic insecticides within treasured and significant landscapes of the Colorado Plateau in northern Arizona to kill native grasshoppers.

The areas being considered include portions of the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, and the newly designated Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument.

“This is a dangerous plan that could kill creatures that are key to northern Arizona’s unique biodiversity, which these national monuments were designated to protect,” said Taylor McKinnon, Southwest director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The federal government needs to stop downplaying the extinction crisis and back off its reckless plan to smother biodiversity hotspots with toxic pesticides.”

One out of every 10 plant species in the Colorado Plateau region is found nowhere else on Earth.

The agency's draft environmental assessment omits mention of the national monuments and unique species and habitats they were designated to protect. These species include rare bees, butterflies and other creatures found nowhere else, like the Kaibab monkey grasshopper and House Rock Valley chisel-toothed kangaroo rat, specifically named in the August proclamation establishing the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni National Monument.

APHIS oversees and funds the application of multiple pesticides on rangelands to prevent native grasshoppers and Mormon crickets from competing with livestock for forage.

The proposed insecticides — carbaryl, diflubenzuron and chlorantraniliprole — are indiscriminate. In addition to the grasshoppers the agency is targeting, the insecticides can also kill bees, moths and other insects. Spraying can harm entire ecosystems by disrupting pollination and can harm populations of birds, reptiles and mammals who feed on grasshoppers and insects.

Although grasshoppers and Mormon crickets can be locally abundant from time to time, native plants and other wildlife evolved with these cycles. Introducing pesticides to eliminate native grasshoppers is a shortsighted, quick fix that fails to consider the complex interrelationships within these delicate ecosystems.

The agency’s draft analysis shows that it has failed to consult with affected Tribes with ties to the Grand Canyon area. The Grand Canyon Tribal Coalition, which proposed the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni National Monument, includes members of the Havasupai Tribe, Hopi Tribe, Hualapai Tribe, Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians, Las Vegas Tribe of Paiutes, Moapa Band of Paiute Indians, Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, Shivwits Band of Paiutes, Navajo Nation, San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe, Yavapai-Apache Nation, Zuni Tribe and Colorado River Indian Tribes.

“It’s so important that APHIS honor the promise made to work together with Tribal nations to protect the sacred spaces and resources within the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Monument when it was established less than six months ago,” said Sharon Selvaggio, pesticide program specialist with The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. “We call on the agency to protect natural systems on Tribal and public lands by employing nonchemical management that allows humans and wildlife to thrive.”

In March 2023 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published a draft biological opinion from NOAA Fisheries showing that carbaryl is likely to jeopardize 37 species protected under the Endangered Species Act, and harm 36 designated critical habitats.

While Arizona is not home to any of the species named in that report, the findings show the extreme harm carbaryl poses to endangered fish and other species.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is charged with protecting endangered plants and animals, has not yet completed a proper analysis of the potential harms from the APHIS proposal. Potentially vulnerable endangered species in Arizona include Chiricahua leopard frogs, western yellow-billed cuckoos, Gila chub, black-footed ferrets and Siler pincushion cacti.

APHIS is accepting comments on the proposal until 4 p.m. MST on Feb. 2.