Take caution with pesticides

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— The Routt County Extension Office is urging landowners to exercise caution as the weed and spraying season approaches.

Extension Office agent CJ Mucklow asked that residents educate themselves before buying pesticides or hiring someone to apply them.

"Most of the people who try to sell pesticides over the phone offer an inferior product at over-inflated prices," he said. "We just want to remind people to not buy pesticides over the phone."

It is not uncommon for people living in rural areas to receive a phone call this time of year from someone selling pesticides, Mucklow said.

"Not only is it a rip-off money wise, but (the chemicals) can also be a health and environmental hazard," said Routt County Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush.

Any local pesticide, herbicide or other chemical supplier can provide a superior product at competitive prices, Mucklow said.

Also, the Colorado Department of Agriculture advises having only licensed applicators do the spraying.

"If you are going to have that done, it needs to be done by a licensed professional," Mucklow said.

The advice comes amid an ongoing pine beetle epidemic that is killing pine trees throughout the state and sending homeowners scrambling for pesticide applicators.

Mucklow said pesticides to fend off pine beetles need to be applied before the end of June. Spruce beetle pesticide should be applied before the end of May.

The Colorado Pesticide Applicators' Act requires that any person or company that applies pesticides for hire be licensed as a commercial applicator. A person or company that performs applications for hire without holding the appropriate license may receive a minimum fine of $1,000 per violation.

"For better environmental and public safety, they must have the necessary training, expertise and experience to apply these chemicals," said John Scott, pesticide applicator coordinator at the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

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