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Senator urges stiff penalties for Gov. Inslee after apple maggot mistake

Gov. Jay Inslee visited Malden, Washington, on Sept. 10, 2020. (Gov. Inslee/Twitter)

Gov. Inslee brought with him some honeycrisp apples grown at the Governor’s Mansion in Olympia to give to people in Omak, Malden, and Bridgeport during a tour last week to survey the fires. But it turns out those apples were infested with apple maggot larvae, according to the Douglas County Facebook page.

The infestation was discovered among the apples Inslee handed out to a retirement home in Omak. Now, Douglas County officials are asking residents in Bridgeport to help track down the apples.

“We know that they were left at the Foursquare Church shortly after 11 am, but they have not been seen since and we have been unable to find a contact with knowledge of their location,” the county posted on Facebook. “There is reason to believe that they may have been dumped in a local orchard or transported with other, non-contaminated apples from the area.”

The county also posted photos of the apples.

Apple maggots, if not controlled, could cause serious problems for orchardists in Douglas County.

Governor Inslee released a statement, as obtained by KING5, about the gaffe. In part, “We regret this mistake. This a good reminder of the importance of awareness around apple quarantine.”

But not everyone is willing to accept a mere apology. Sen. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, said in a news release that “the stiffest penalties are in order.”

Senator Warnick, former chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said, “It was a nice gesture, but not well thought through. As the state’s executive, he should have followed the law to keep our state’s agriculture safe, instead of putting it at risk.”

Warnick is requesting the state’s Department of Agriculture to investigate and ensure compliance with state regulations. She points out that produce from Western Washington must undergo strict inspection to make sure apple maggots don’t make their way to Eastern Washington.

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