Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

This Bumble Bee Is About to Go Extinct

Popular
This Bumble Bee Is About to Go Extinct

The rusty patched bumble bee, which can be identified by a rust-colored patch on its abdomen, was once a commonly seen pollinator from the midwest to the east coast. Unfortunately, scientists believe that it has disappeared from 87 percent of its historic range since the 1990s and that its population has declined by a startling 95 percent.

Rusty patched bumble bee.Dan Mullen

The rusty patched bumble bee is now listed as endangered under the Species at Risk Act in Canada and as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, but little is being done in the U.S. to ensure that these bumble bees and their habitat are protected.

But now, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed endangered species protection for the rare bumble bee. If the proposal goes through, it would be the first bee species in history to receive federal protection in the U.S.

The rusty patched bumble bee faces a host of threats ranging from habitat loss and degradation to climate change, disease, the spread of pathogens from bees who are raised and sold commercially and the widespread use of herbicides and pesticides.

Their advocates have been raising concerns for years that their extinction is imminent if we do nothing to stop it.

In 2013, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to get the rusty patched bumble bee listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), but the agency didn't respond. A year later, the Xerces Society, along with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), sued the Department of the Interior and the FWS in an effort to get this bee protected.

Last year the agency finally announced that protection may be warranted, and has followed up with more good news this month that it is now formally proposing protectionfor them under the ESA.

"The Fish and Wildlife Service has relied upon the best available science and we welcome the proposal to list the rusty patched bumble bee as an endangered species," said Rich Hatfield, senior conservation biologist at the Xerces Society.

"Addressing the many threats that the rusty patched bumble bee faces―from neonicotinoid pesticides to disease―will help not only this species, but countless other native pollinators that are so critical to the functioning of natural ecosystems and agriculture."

The Xerces Society points out, they don't just play an incredibly valuable role in pollinating crops we rely on, providing a service that's estimated to be worth billions of dollars, they also pollinate native plants that provide food for other species. Losing this bumble bee would be huge loss for a world that relies heavily on pollinators for survival.

"This decision comes not a moment too soon," said Rebecca Riley, senior attorney with the NRDC.

"Bee populations―including thousands of species of wild bees―are in crisis across the country, and the rusty patched bumble bee is one of the most troubling examples. Today's decision is a critical step forward. If finalized, the endangered species protections will improve the health of our ecosystem as well as the security of our national food supply."

The agency will be accepting public comments until Nov. 21, 2016. If you would like to make one in support of listing the rusty patched bumble bee as a protected species, you can submit one at Regulations.gov.

A replica of a titanosaur. AIZAR RALDES / AFP via Getty Images

New fossils uncovered in Argentina may belong to one of the largest animals to have walked on Earth.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Trump's Affordable Clean Energy rule eliminated a provision mandating that utilities move away from coal. VisionsofAmerica /Joe Sohm / Getty Images

A federal court on Tuesday struck down the Trump administration's rollback of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan regulating greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A wild mink in Utah was the first wild animal in the U.S. found with COVID-19. Peter Trimming via Wikipedia, CC BY-SA

By Jonathan Runstadler and Kaitlin Sawatzki

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers have found coronavirus infections in pet cats and dogs and in multiple zoo animals, including big cats and gorillas. These infections have even happened when staff were using personal protective equipment.

Read More Show Less
A mass methane release could begin an irreversible path to full land-ice melt. NurPhoto / Contributor / Getty Images

By Peter Giger

The speed and scale of the response to COVID-19 by governments, businesses and individuals seems to provide hope that we can react to the climate change crisis in a similarly decisive manner - but history tells us that humans do not react to slow-moving and distant threats.

Read More Show Less
Doug Emhoff, U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Jill Biden and President-elect Joe Biden wave as they arrive on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol for the inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

By John R. Platt

The period of the 45th presidency will go down as dark days for the United States — not just for the violent insurgency and impeachment that capped off Donald Trump's four years in office, but for every regressive action that came before.

Read More Show Less