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Austria: fruit grower jailed for killing bees

Austria: fruit grower jailed for killing bees

In Austria, the environmental laws are very strict, the European country has zero tolerance for any violence towards nature. That is why the Klagenfurt fruit grower was jailed for using the wrong insecticide, which led to the deaths of dozens of neighbouring bee colonies. Killing bees is a crime, said the judge and sentenced a farmer to a year in prison.

The Austrian judicial system punished the fruit grower for having illegally spread an insecticide chlorpyrifos. Farmer’s actions became a cause of death for bee colonies in the Lavanttal area of Carinthia province, at a time when their blossoms were still attracting bees.

The 47-year-old farmer had spread a powerful substance chlorpyrifos over his trees, later, more than 50 colonies belonging to two neighbouring apiarists perished.

The court in the city of Klagenfurt found the fruit grower guilty of “deliberately damaging the environment”, pointing to his experience and role in training others in his field as evidence that he knew the consequences of his actions.

He was sentenced to a year in prison, of which four months will be without probation. Ordered to pay more than €20,000 ($23,500) in compensation, he said he will appeal.

According to the judge, the court hoped the sentence would serve as a deterrent and to remind others that the “use of pesticides needs to strike a balance between the environment and economics”.

The widespread use of pesticides has been blamed for a steep rise in deaths among bees and other pollinating insects. In April the EU voted to outlaw the use of certain pesticides from the neonicotinoid family blamed for killing off bee populations.