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May 10, 2018 06:06 PM

Chemical Trespass Incident Kills Off Bees

Clay County, SD

If someone trespassed onto your land, they would be arrested. But some landowners say chemical trespass doesn't come with the same kind of enforcement in South Dakota.

KELOLAND Investigates has been looking into how one case of chemical trespass points to a much bigger issue.

The incident in question was captured by organic farm owner Angela Pulse right outside of Vermillion. 

Crop Care Aerial Spraying was across the road covering a corn field with fungicide. 
The Pulses say when the chemicals drifted over onto their property it caused them to lose their organic certification.

But they weren't the only ones affected

"I heard him when he came in those spray planes are loud. And when he left that field he flew right across the north end of my CRP within less than a half a mile of where 50 hives of bees were," Heikes said. 

Sam Heikes prides himself on his organically grown produce. 

"And the bees are very valuable to that. Because we can increase the yield of our vegetable production so the more bees we've got the better yield we get on our vegetables," Heikes said.

Heikes believes when the crops were sprayed last July, the chemicals covered Conservation Reserve Program land that was the bees' habitat.

"So bees will travel up to three miles and that's only a half a mile away.  What happened to the bees was when the owner of the bees came my beekeeper opened up the boxes and 30 to 40 percent of his bees were dead Angela. And he said what happened to my bees?" Heikes said.

Heikes says what happened to the bees was chemical trespass.

"The chemical trespass is the issue Angela, and it is not just farmers' rights here, it is the rights of people to have healthy food. And to be protected from harmful pesticides," Heikes said.

Heikes and his neighbors the Pulses, who live just a mile away, say the state isn't doing enough to stop the problem from happening.

"South Dakota, I'm sorry to say legally is one of the most lenient states in the country in terms of regulation on aerial sprayingRealtors In Red Shirts Sweep Sioux Falls," Heikes said.

The state did issue a misdemeanor fine to the Crop Care Aerial Spraying pilot, but not much else has happened.

We look into why that's such a big frustration for organic chicken farmers Angela and Glenn Pulse, as well as video evidence that applicators continue to spray, in heavy wind.

Join us with the rest of our investigation into chemical trespass Thursday night at 10.

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