On September 22, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to list the rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis) as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. The primary reason for the Service’s proposed listing is the 91 percent decline in the bumble bee’s population abundance and distribution since the late 1990s, according to a study conducted in response to a petition to list the bumble bee as endangered. Notably, the bumble bee was abundant in 28 states in the early 1990s, but it has been reported in only 12 states since 2000. The Service sites disease, pesticides, and habitat loss as likely causes of the decline in the bumble bee’s population.
If listed as endangered, unpermitted “takes” of the bumble bee would be prohibited and other federal agencies would be required to consult with the Service prior to taking action to ensure that their actions are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the species.
Comments on the proposed listing are due by November 21, 2016.