One of North America’s largest bumblebee species under review for endangered species protections

The announcement will prompt a yearlong scientific assessment followed by a public comment period before a decision is made.

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Image Credit: John Frisch/Flickr

After the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned for the Southern Plains bumblebee to be listed under the Endangered Species Act, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service announced that this bumblebee species might warrant protections.

The announcement will prompt a yearlong scientific assessment followed by a public comment period before a final decision is made.

“Southern Plains bumblebees have already disappeared from six states and desperately need Endangered Species Act protection to survive,” Jess Tyler, a Center for Biological Diversity entomologist and the petition author, said. “The Act has an incredible track record of keeping species from going extinct and putting them on the path to recovery.”

According to the Center’s petition, the once abundant Southern Plains bumblebee species, which inhabited 26 states and the southeastern Gulf coastal plain, is in decline and has disappeared from several states including Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Dakota and Ohio.

Multiple threats have caused the populations to nearly half including conversion to crops, heavy grazing and pesticides. The destruction of the bumblebee’s grassland habitat and its limited nutrition from diverse pollen and nectar sources pose a grave threat, scientists said. Increased use of pesticides have reduced the species survival rates, while harming the bees’ immune systems and hindering reproduction, according to a press release.

Currently, Franklin’s bumblebee and the rusty patched bumblebee are the only two species of bumblebees listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

“[W]e announce that we are initiating status reviews of these species to determine whether the petitioned actions are warranted,” the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said. “To ensure that the status reviews are comprehensive, we request scientific and commercial data and other information regarding the species and factors that may affect their status. Based on the status reviews, we will issue 12-month petition findings, which will address whether or not the petitioned actions are warranted in accordance with the Act.”

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