Rusty Patched Bumblebee Finally Gets Endangered Status

Posted: Mar 22 2017, 3:05am CDT | by , Updated: Mar 22 2017, 3:23am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
Rusty Patched Bumblebee Finally Gets Endangered Status
Photo Credit: Getty Images

The first U.S. bumblebee added to endangered species list

The rusty patched bumblebee is now officially listed as endangered species. With this, it becomes the first bee species in continental United States to join the endangered list and to receive federal protection.

Known for its rust-colored marks on the back, the rusty patched has disappeared from about 90 percent of its range in the past 20 years. The bee once common and abundant across United States is now found only in small, scattered populations within few states. And unless something has not done to save them, they are well on their way to extinction.

“We are thrilled to see one of North America’s most endangered species receive the protection it needs,” said Sarina Jepsen, director of endangered species at the Xerces Society. “Now that the Fish and Wildlife Service has listed the rusty patched bumble bee as endangered, it stands a chance of surviving the many threats it faces—from the use of neonicotinoid pesticides to diseases.”

Rusty patched bumblebee is a key pollinator of crop that pollinates everything from blueberries to cranberries to tomatoes and melons. Many U.S. crops are heavily dependent on this bee species for their growth and production. Overall, bees contribute to 35 percent of world food production.

Rusty patched bumblebee was declared endangered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service earlier this year after noticing a drastic decline in their population. But it was not until now the bee officially listed as endangered. Its listing was frozen for few weeks as part of a sweeping executive order by President Donald Trump.

There are many reasons for the drop in rusty bumblebee population like habitat loss, climate change and rampant use of pesticides.

These threats are similar to the ones that have depleted the populations of seven bee species in Hawaii. The Hawaiian bees were also added for protection under Endangered Species Act in September last year.

The listing of rusty patched bumblebee as an endangered species means that U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will devise a plan for the recovery of the dwindling population of the bee in its historical range. It’s probably the final chance to save the bumblebee from extinction and to maintain its existence in U.S. farms and gardens.

Rebecca Riley, senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) says. “Federal protections may be the only thing standing between the bumble bee and extinction.”

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