Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

For Immediate Release

Contact

Daniela Arellano, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), (424) 268-6677, darellano@nrdc.org
Lori Ann Burd, Center for Biological Diversity, (971) 717-6405, laburd@biologicaldiversity.org
Tom Casey, Friends of Minnesota Scientific and Natural Areas, (952) 472-1099, tcasey@frontiernet.net.

Press Release

Lawsuit Launched to Protect Habitat for Critically Endangered Rusty Patched Bumble Bee

WASHINGTON -

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), the Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of Minnesota Scientific and Natural Areas today issued a formal notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for refusing to designate critical habitat for the highly endangered rusty patched bumble bee.

Despite the bee’s disappearance from 87% of its native range, the Service announced in September that designating critical habitat for the species was “not prudent,” claiming that availability of habitat does not limit the bee’s conservation. The decision contradicted the agency’s own findings that habitat loss and degradation have contributed to the bee’s decline, worsened by the widespread use of insecticides and herbicides that directly kill the bee and the wildflowers it needs to survive.

“We have no other option but to take action against this administration for its failure to designate habitat for the rusty patched bumble bee," said Lucas Rhoads, staff attorney for the Pollinator Initiative at NRDC. “The Service’s excuses for failing to protect the bee’s home have no basis in either the agency’s own science or the law. This species can recover from its devastating decline only if we use every tool at our disposal to protect the bee and its habitat.”

The rusty patched bumble bee was once common in the Midwest and the Northeast but was protected as endangered in 2017. In addition to habitat loss and degradation, climate change and disease have also contributed to its decline.

“The Service’s refusal to provide the habitat protections this gravely imperiled bee so desperately needs is a betrayal of its mission to protect endangered species,” said Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director at the Center. “This beautiful bumble bee was once common across much of the country. But if we don’t protect the places where it breeds and feeds it will continue on its path toward extinction.”

“In 2019, the rusty patched bumble bee was declared by the legislature as Minnesota’s ‘official bee,’” said Tom Casey, board chair of Friends of Minnesota Scientific and Natural Areas. “We need to do everything we can to preserve and enhance habitat for this endangered pollinator.”

Background

The rusty patched bumble bee was protected under the Endangered Species Act in January 2017 after a petition from the Xerces Society followed by a lawsuit by NRDC. The Service then failed to designate critical habitat by the statutory deadline, prompting another lawsuit by NRDC in 2019. A legal settlement with NRDC required the agency to move forward with a critical habitat determination in summer of 2020.

The decline of the rusty patched bumble bee is part of a troubling trend of declines in many of the 4,000-plus species of native bees in the United States.

Native bees often provide more effective pollination of native plants than honeybees, which are not native to the United States. Wild pollinator declines across North America are caused by habitat loss, agricultural intensification, pesticide use, invasive non-native species, climate change and pathogens.

About 90% of wild plants and 75% of leading global food crops — including 35% of the global food supply — depend on animal pollinators for reproduction, and the great majority of that work is done by bees.

Despite the growing evidence of declining bee populations, the rusty patched bumblebee is the only bee in the continental United States currently protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Rusty patched bumble bee

###

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive. 

Dems Mark Anniversary of 13th Amendment With Calls to 'Close the Slavery Loophole'

"Prison labor is slave labor. Pass the #AbolitionAmendment."

Jessica Corbett ·


Urging Dems to 'Fight for Justice,' Progressives Launch 'Pass the PRO Act Holiday Tour'

"We've seen time and time again, when Democrats don't deliver quickly for their base and for labor, bad things happen, and you're approaching that precipice again."

Brett Wilkins ·


Dems Urge DOJ Antitrust Probe Into $43 Billion Discovery-WarnerMedia Merger

"Giant corporations must not be allowed to stomp out competition, put up barriers to enter the market, and continue to exclude Latinos from the media industry."

Jessica Corbett ·


DOJ Lawsuit Challenging Texas Gerrymandering Met With Applause, Calls for Action in Congress

"While we are grateful for the involvement of the federal government, what we need to stop the five-decade cycle of having to take legal action every 10 years is for Congress to pass the Freedom to Vote Act," said one advocate.

Julia Conley ·


'Nobody Is Above the Law': Elizabeth Warren Applauds SEC Probe of Trump's Social Media Venture

"There may have been serious violations of securities laws during the proposed merger of Digital World Acquisition Corp. and Trump's media company," said the Massachusetts Democrat.

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo