Mosquitos: reality vs. utopia


Citizens of Sublette County, a letter to the editor written by Linda Baker and published in the Pinedale Roundup might have misled you about the facts of the abatement program and chemicals used. Baker does not reside within the Sublette County Mosquito Abatement District No. 1, nor does she serve on the board. She represented as truth several statements that are false and many that are misleading. Let me explain the situation from the District's point of view. 

Please ask yourself, if you were in-charge of mosquito control, what would you do given our budget restrictions and mandate? Remember your job is to keep people safe from disease and provide a comfortable environment so people can enjoy our section of the county.

We do in fact use a helicopter specially equipped to properly spray a chemical named Fafanon ULV. Our equipment and operators are licensed, trained and insured to apply the mosquito abatement chemicals in a safe and effective manner. We even use onboard computers to check our work. We apply Fafanon at rate of only 3 ounces per 1 acre of land area. At that rate it will not kill bees as Ms. Baker stated. When she stated that Fafanon is not safe, she left out the rest of the statement: “if not used as directed.” Her own expert stated during an educational forum that Ms. Baker conducted a couple of weeks ago that the droplets of Fafanon in proper aerial mosquito control are too small to hurt animals or even bees. Our research shows the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) deems it safe for mosquito control. How could we get insurance to apply Fafanon if it was deemed unsafe? The EPA would shut us down if it were unsafe. Most of the information she provided was for the people working with it in concentrated forms or other non-approved mosquito applications. 

Is Fafanon toxic? It can be, water can also be toxic. If you stick your head in it and breath you will drown; if you drink too much water in a very short time you run the rare risk of water poisoning; water is highly corrosive, if you put metal in water it will eventually eat it up. However, I don’t need to articulate all the good water does. Should we consider stopping the use of water? Obviously not. Like water, Fafanon, if misused is bad. If used properly it is one of the most effective and cost-efficient mosquito controls on the market. Should we consider stopping it’s use given the good it does? Or should we look at trying to augment our current program with practical parts of the integrated approach?

If management was easy everyone would be doing it and the world be a happy and safe place to live. When the newly appointed mosquito board took over we were asked to keep our citizens safe and comfortable with the amount of money we had in the bank. The proper way any good management does its job is to maintain control, analyze the situation and take the proper action. That is what we have done and will continue to do going forward. 

Maintain Control:  We made no immediate changes. We took the time to study the situation and not make any sudden changes that could diminish our ability to provide adequate mosquito control.

Analyze the Situation: As a newly appointed board, we had a very short amount of time to secure our finances, contracts and chemicals to complete this year’s spray applications. After much consideration the SCMAD#1 board has decided to trust the research that has been done by FMC and the EPA. The research shows that when used according to the label, Fyfanon ULV is safe to use in the open environment. The EPA agrees with FMC that the harm done to non-target insects is minimal and thus acceptable for use. We decided to continue with the program that has worked for years and is within our budget. We also decided to study other control options later this year for possible future implementation. 

Take the Proper Action: After careful analysis we executed the plan that has been proven to work in the past. Please note: we do not currently employ an Integrated Mosquito Management Program, which may be an excellent program if you have the money to do it. We are not even financially close to being able to implement such a program. It was reportedly tried in the past and failed primarily due to high costs. 

We have pledged to look at what it would take to implement such a program. Rest assured this board is made up of people that will not be swayed by a few people that have the goal of eliminating aerial spraying. We need to study the real science not anecdotal science, perform a cost benefit analysis and get constructive community input. Then and only then can we make a decision on any change in our control program. The hard part will be where do we get the money to implement changes if they are needed and desired by the district. This will take time and possibly an election to raise additional funds. We need to make sure a new system will work under our circumstances, is it what we really need, and is affordable before we make changes?

Misinformation is a waste of time, destructive and not a productive way forward. The people of Sublette County Mosquito Abatement District 1 are smart and recognize an agenda when they see it. Utopia is the best something can be and a noble goal. The reality is the district is a quasi government that has limited funds and a variety of people with different perspectives. The best we can hope for is that we work together and compromise. If we do that, we can make a step forward together not backwards. 

By the way, I’m very proud of all the hard work our volunteer board has done to make sure our team had what they needed to get this first spray done successfully with little time to do it. 

Check our website at SCMAD1.com for meeting updates and educational information. If you have constructive comments or ideas on how we can provide a better service to our community please send us an email at [email protected] or contact Owen Best at 307-231-4459.

Check SCMAD1.com often for the date of the next spray. Weather drives our spray date. Last minute changes do happen. We will keep the website updated as soon as possible if there is a change. 

Bob Jones 
Chairman,
Sublette County Mosquito Abatement District 1

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