Friday, February 10, 2017

Regulatory freeze keeping rusty patched bumble bee, which is down 87%, off endangered list

Rusty-patched bumblebee (Reuters photo, Rich Hatfield)
The rusty-patched bumblebee, whose numbers have declined nearly 90 percent since the mid-1990s, is still waiting to be listed as an endangered species, Juliet Eilperin reports for The Washington Post. On Jan. 11 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service named the bee endangered. President Trump's White House chief of staff Reince Priebus imposed a regulatory freeze before protections went into effect. The earliest it can be listed as endangered would be March 21.

"The striped black and yellow pollinator with a long black tail used to be so abundant in the Midwest that it was considered a nuisance by some residents," Eilperin writes. "It now only exists in parts of Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota. A parasitic fungus carried by commercial bees, along with habitat destruction and pesticide exposure has contributed to such a severe decline that the Fish and Wildlife Service has determined it will go extinct within 40 years without federal intervention."

Gary Frazer, the agency’s assistant director of ecological services, said in a statement: “The change in the effective date from February 10 to March 21, 2017, is not expected to have an impact on the conservation of the species, FWS is developing a recovery plan to guide efforts to bring this species back to a healthy and secure condition.”

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