Following a short delay caused by the Trump Administration’s January 20, 2017 White House Memorandum halting implementation of several regulatory processes, the rusty patched bumble bee was officially listed as an endangered species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the “Service”) on March 21, 2017.
The rusty patched bumble bee population has been declining in the United States for several years. While its range previously encompassed a territory of thirty-one states and provinces, it was recently only found in twelve states and provinces. According to the Service, the bee is currently likely to be present in an area that covers only about 0.1% of the species’ historical range. The decline in rusty patched bumble bee population is attributed by the Service to several factors, including chronic pathogen spillover from commercial honey and bumble bees, application of pesticides and herbicides, habitat loss and degradation, small population dynamics, and the effects of climate change.
A proposed listing for the rusty patched bumble bee was previously published in the Federal Register in September 2016 (81 FR 65324), and the Service published a final rule listing the species on January 11, 2017 (82 FR 3186). We previously reported on those listings here and here. Though the effective date of the rule was originally set for February 10, 2017, this date was pushed back as a result of the White House Memorandum delaying the effective dates of final rules that had not yet taken effect by 60 days from the date of the memorandum. Because the Administration did not take action within the 60 day time limit, the final rule went into effect on March 21, 2017.
Now that the rusty patched bumble bee has been officially listed, stakeholders territories where it may be located must pay special attention to activity that could impact it in order to ensure their compliance with the Endangered Species Act.