On January 11th, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) listed the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). According the USFWS1, the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee has experienced an 87% decline since the late 1990’s, which led to the listing. The USFWS has identified disease, pesticides, climate change, habitat loss, and small colony dynamics as threats which may contribute to the bees decline and listing as an endangered species. The USFWS is not currently listing critical habitat for the species due to a lack of information on the biological needs of the species.
While this listing doesn’t currently carry some of the broad land use restrictions other USFWS species listings have in recent years, it does have the potential to impact certain agricultural industries in the near future. In the final listing for this species in the Federal Register2, the USFWS indicated that a certain class of pesticides called neonicotinoids could play a role in the decline of the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee based on research on impacts to other species of bumble bees. Additionally, the USFWS also stated that they are actively collaborating with the EPA in reviewing nine pesticides with biological opinions slated for December 2017, 2018 and 2022. How this species listing impacts those biological opinions and how they impact EPA determinations under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) will be telling in the coming months and years.
This listing becomes effective February 10th, 2017.
Josiah Frey is an Environmental Scientist at Smith Management Group. Josiah can be reached at email@example.com