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Leaffooted plant bug on pomegranate Todd Fitchette

University entomologists "bugged" about new permit requirements

California wants to charge researchers and students a permit fee to collect insects. Could this lead to additional permit requirements for pest control advisers, and, at what cost?

California’s incessant desire to write restrictive rules and regulations has a new critic.

According to the latest blog on entomology and nematology issues at UC Davis the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is apparently bugged that researchers and students aren’t paying enough for those insect collections they study. The state has a proposal to fix that.

The proposed rule, which quietly moved beyond its 45-day public comment on May 8, will require an expensive permit to “take, collect, capture, mark, or salvage for scientific, educational, and non-commercial propagation purposes … invertebrates” (bugs, in layman’s terms).

This list includes pretty much everything else, but for my purposes here, we’re going to stick to bugs because of how ridiculous it is.

Bug collecting for scientific purposes – including the assigned activities of teachers at all levels of education in California – will now require a pricey permit process that, for college students will be prohibitive not just for the cost, but in the time it will take the state to issue that permit.

Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, says in aforementioned blog: “This is a major deal for scientific teaching and research … (and) will make it even more difficult to study or teach about insects in California.”

Permit costs can run over $400 to get started for individuals and entities, and close to $100 for students. Heaven forbid you want to amend your permit because these can get quite specific. That’ll cost you too.

This means farm advisors sampling fields for a new pest would need to pony up several hundred dollars to get started and another $105 for changes to an existing permit each time locations and methods of collection are changed.

One of Kimsey’s rubs with the rule is the state could take upwards of eight weeks to issue a permit to students assigned by their professor to “go collect insects” for an upcoming lab assignment.

That’s too late for students needing to complete coursework in 10 weeks under a quarter system or slightly longer under a semester system.

Unanswered in all this – I attempted to contact CDFW, but didn’t hear back – is how this could impact pest control advisors and farmers sampling fields and orchards for pests. Will a PCA, for instance, need a permit to sweep-net a cotton field? What about the countless insect traps used by growers to sample for pests?

The stated purpose of the new permitting fees is to help cover the costs of regulatory staff in issuing permits.

Here’s a quick-fix: cancel the need for permits altogether and either reassign those workers to useful purposes (if such actually exists), or simply can the workers and reduce payroll.

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