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What is an apple maggot quarantine in Washington?

Governor Jay Inslee violated an apple maggot quarantine by gifting some apples outside the quarantine area. Here's what that means.

SPOKANE, Wash — Washington Governor Jay Inslee accidentally violated an apple maggot quarantine last week when he brought Honeycrisp apples from Olympia to the towns of Bridgeport and Malden, as well as a retirement home in Omak.

Those apples later tested positive for apple maggot larvae, which can pose a threat to the critical apple crop in the region. Apple maggots spread through homegrown fruit and municipal waste.  

The governor has since apologized for the mistake in a statement.

“This a good reminder of the importance of awareness around apple quarantine,” Inslee said in the statement.

What exactly is an apple maggot quarantine?

According to the Washington State Department of Agriculture, the purpose of the apple maggot quarantine is to stop the spread of apple maggot into pest-free areas of the state. State law prohibits the movement of homegrown fruit and municipal waste from a quarantined area into or through a pest-free area. According to a 2012 article in the Everett Herald, the maggots were first found in Washington in 1980 and the quarantine was created to limit their spread. 

Fruit regulated under the apple maggot quarantine includes all fresh fruit of apple (including crab apple), cherry (except cherries that are commercial fruit), hawthorn, pear (except pears that are commercial fruit from CA, ID, OR, UT, and WA), plum, prune, and quince, according to WSDA. As of July 11, 2020, certain soils and growing mediums are regulated as part of the quarantine.  

Most of western Washington is under an apple maggot quarantine including Thurston County, where the Governor’s Mansion is. San Juan County is the only county in western Washington that is not in an apple maggot quarantine. If you live in a apple maggot quarantine area, you should not transport homegrown tree fruit out of the area.

According to Washington state law, violation of the apple quarantine is subject to a "civil penalty not exceeding $5,000 per violation." WSDA said there are no plans to prosecute the governor.

If you’d like to know if you live in an apple maggot quarantine, WSDA has a map searchable by addresses.