Bee Species’ Endangered Protection In Jeopardy Thanks To Trump

The rusty patched bumblebee was supposed to be designated an endangered species on Friday, but the action has been delayed

A rusty patched bumblebee. — REUTERS
Feb 09, 2017 at 5:01 PM ET

A bumblebee that was supposed to receive the government’s official “endangered” label on Friday will have to wait a little longer after the Trump administration delayed the designation one day before it was to take effect.

A 60-day freeze imposed by the Trump administration on pending regulations prompted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to announce in a Federal Register notice that the rusty patch bumblebee’s endangered designation will be postponed until March 21.

On January 11, the Service granted the bee the endangered designation, which would have taken effect on Februrary 10 after a 30-day waiting period in accordance with federal law. On Thursday, however, the Trump administration delayed what would have been the first bumblebee to be protected under the Endangered Species Act.

The bees’ numbers have seen a sharp decline since the late 1990s possibly due to habitat loss, pesticides, and climate change. “Our top priority is to prevent extinction of the rusty patched bumble bee,” Service Midwest Regional Director Tom Melius said in a statement on January 10. “Listing the bee as endangered will help us mobilize partners and focus resources on finding ways right now to stop the decline.”

Given President Donald Trump’s commitment to cutting regulations, environmentalists are concerned about the bumblebee’s future. “The Trump administration has put the rusty patched bumblebee back on the path to extinction,” Rebecca Riley, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement. “This bee is one of the most critically endangered species in the country and we can save it — but not if the White House stands in the way.”

Heather Swift, a spokesperson with the U.S. Department of Interior, of which the Fish and Wildlife Service is a part, told the AP that the department “is working to review this regulation as expeditiously as possible and expects to issue further guidance on the effective date of the listing shortly.” Swift added that no other species listings are impacted by the regulations freeze.