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Endangered Species Act and Impact on Pesticide Applications

Authors: Rachel Bomberger, Christina Ward, Henry Wetzel, and Wendy Sue Wheeler of WSU Pesticide Education.
First published in VEEN, Fall 2023.

Have you recently purchased a new container of your favorite pesticide product? Did you remember to read the entire label prior to application, specifically the section titled: “Directions for Use”? If not, you could be missing critical use information.

What new information do I need to be aware of?

Coming soon to labels near you will be new Endangered Species Protection Requirements use directions. These new use directions are being implemented in order to protect and preserve certain endangered and threatened species. Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) it is a federal offense to take (kill) or otherwise harm these species. We do not know when products will have the new label language, but you should expect to see it soon.

For applicators to comply with the ESA, the “Directions for Use” section on pesticide labels will direct users to the Endangered Species Protection Bulletins, commonly referred to as Bulletins. These Bulletins contain directions for use specific to the area in which the product will be applied. As an applicator, you will need to obtain a Bulletin prior to using the pesticide, but no earlier than six months prior to the application.

What are Endangered Species Protection Bulletins?

Bulletins enable pesticide users to find any ESA restrictions or limitations for the specific area where the pesticides will be used. When crop land overlaps with federally listed endangered or threatened species or their habitat, this area is designated as a Pesticide Use Limitation Area (PULA). This is an evaluation of the potential for exposure such as drift, runoff, leaching, or if a spill were to happen during offsite transport. PULA’s may have additional mitigation measures added to the product label use restrictions depending on the active ingredient, product formulation, and time of year. The restrictions could be increased buffers; environmental conditions (i.e. soil saturation) and weather conditions during which you may not apply the product; or other use restrictions. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designed a web-based tool intended to make the Bulletins accessible to pesticide users. Bulletins are extensions of the pesticide label and are enforceable requirements from the EPA and state lead agencies, like Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA). If you misuse the pesticide and it results in the ‘take’ (kill or harm) of a federally listed species, the action is enforceable as a label violation under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), as well as enforceable under the Endangered Species Act by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and/or National Marine and Fisheries Service (NMFS).

The Bulletins are location dependent meaning only certain sections of a field or block may be impacted by a PULA. Data for the PULAs come from the United States Fish and Wildlife and National Marine Fisheries Service for the endangered and threatened species, and USDA and other sources for cropping information. Remember: Bulletins are intended to identify and give options to mitigate potential risks from a pesticide’s registered uses to species (or taxa) of concern in the area. As of this article, the species and habitat of concern are salmonids in the Pacific Northwest (PNW). More federally listed endangered and threatened species may be added in the future.

When do I need a Bulletin?

You will need to obtain a Bulletin when your product label directs you to visit the EPA Bulletins Live! Two website. Most often the ESA statement is under the Use Directions – but can vary label to label.  It is the label on the product that you are using that will determine whether you need to obtain a Bulletin. If your pesticide application is within a PULA, you will need to read and follow the limitations for the product. If you are outside of a PULA, you will need to document that there are no limitations within your application area during the month of application. You must be able to provide evidence that you obtained a Bulletin if requested during a compliance inspection or investigation, regardless of whether your application was in a PULA or not.

PULAs are shown on the map on the Bulletins Live! Two database with pink-orange highlight. When you zoom into the map you can see specifically where parts of fields may be in a PULA.

How Do I Access an Endangered Species Protection Bulletin?

To access a Bulletin specific to your needs, you will need to visit the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Bulletins Live! Two website. Follow the web address on the product label or click on this link:

EPA Bulletins Live! Two

You should see a screen that looks like this:

screenshot showing instructions and a search box on the left and map of North America on the right

Tips For Navigating the Website

A tutorial is available on the website on how to search for and obtain your Bulletin. The website is not easily accessible on your mobile device and is not consistently user-friendly. Washington State Department of Agriculture and WSU Pesticide Resources and Education Program have some suggestions on how to best utilize the website:

  • First, type in the EPA registration number which can be found on the front page of the label. Be sure to use the registration number, which only contains digits, rather than the EPA establishment number.
  • Next, enter the month you anticipate applying the product. One suggestion is to download the Bulletin for the months you think you may use the pesticide. For instance, if you typically do a post-emergent herbicide application in March and sometimes April, you should download both month’s Bulletins in preparation. As a reminder, you must obtain the Bulletin PRIOR to using the pesticide but no earlier than six months before the application.
  • Finally, you will need to zoom into or enter the location of your application. It is often easier to ‘toggle’ to the geographic map to see the actual landscape to better find the precise area of your application.
  • You will know when your information has been entered successfully when the rectangle in the upper right corner, “Printable Bulletin,” turns from red to green. By clicking on the green rectangle, you can download and save a PDF of your Bulletin. The PDF will indicate whether there are use limitations if the application is in a PULA or show that there are no use limitations.
  • Keep in mind that you will need to document both a Bulletin with PULA restrictions as well as Bulletins with no PULA.

Final Thoughts

There are four active ingredients that are affected at the time of writing by the new label language in Washington include the following: prometryn, 1,3-dichloropropene, S-metolachlor and bromoxynil.

This new system will take some time to adjust to. WSDA and WSU are ready to assist as best we can to help applicators comply.

A link to the Bulletin webpage can be found on WSU Pesticide Information Center OnLine (PICOL).

If you have compliance questions, contact Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA), (360) 902-2040.

If you have general questions, you can also contact WSU Pesticide Resources and Education


Rachel Bomberger, Christina Ward, Henry Wetzel, and Wendy Sue Wheeler.



Fruit Matters articles may only be republished with prior author permission © Washington State University. Reprint articles with permission must include: Originally published by Washington State Tree Fruit Extension Fruit Matters at and a link to the original article.

Use pesticides with care. Apply them only to plants, animals, or sites listed on the labels. When mixing and applying pesticides, follow all label precautions to protect yourself and others around you. It is a violation of the law to disregard label directions. If pesticides are spilled on skin or clothing, remove clothing and wash skin thoroughly. Store pesticides in their original containers and keep them out of the reach of children, pets, and livestock.

YOU ARE REQUIRED BY LAW TO FOLLOW THE LABEL. It is a legal document. Always read the label before using any pesticide. You, the grower, are responsible for safe pesticide use. Trade (brand) names are provided for your reference only. No discrimination is intended, and other pesticides with the same active ingredient may be suitable. No endorsement is implied.

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