Rusty patched bumblebee placed on endangered species list
On Tuesday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced that the rusty patched bumblebee has become the first bee species in the continental U.S. to be declared endangered after suffering a dramatic population decline.
The USFWS told The Associated Press it was adding the bee to the endangered species list before a news release was issued. This means a recovery plan will be put in place that encourages more habitat to be set aside, as well as the reduction of pesticide usage.
Tom Melius, the agency's Midwest regional director said, "Pollinators are small but mighty parts of the natural mechanism that sustains us and our world. Without them, our forests, parks, meadows and shrublands, and the abundant, vibrant life they support, cannot survive, and our crops require laborious, costly pollination by hand."
And while the announcement drew praise from environmentalists, the nonprofit American Farm Bureau Federation, while acknowledging the role bees play as pollinators, was not happy with the humble bumblebee being added to the endangered species list, contending the listing would lead to costly regulations in land and chemical usage.
"I think we can do better in the private sector, where landowners working collaboratively can come up with protection for these species without intervention and bureaucratic red tape of the federal government," said Ryan Yates, the group's director of congressional relations.
The rusty patched bumblebee, known to scientists as Bombus affinis, was once found in 26 states and parts of Canada but has declined about 90 percent in abundance and distribution in the last 20 years. The USFWS has determined the drastic decline is attributed to a mix of factors, including disease, pesticides, climate change and habitat loss.
The rusty patched bumblebee is named for the conspicuous reddish blotch on its abdomen, and while it once flourished in 28 states and Canada, it is now only found in small, scattered populations in 13 states and Ontario, according to the Guardian.
On October 1, 2016, the USFWS added seven species of Hawaii's yellow-faced bees to the endangered list. After being one of Hawaii's most prolific insects in the early 1900s, the pollinators are struggling to survive today.