In 2017, the rusty patched bumblebee was classified as an endangered species, which prompts conservationists to call out for their protection by assigning them their critical habitat.
However, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced that designating a 'critical habitat' is not warranted for these once common bumblebees. The decision means that an extra layer of protection for the bees is not granted despite being classified as an endangered species.
No "Critical Habitat" for rusty patched bumblebees
According to the USFWS, the bee could still survive without a specific area to manage the bee's protection. They said that biologists have concluded that the decreasing numbers of the rusty patched bumblebees are not because of habitat loss, but rather climate change and disease are the main contributors.
The Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group, decried the agency's decision. They said that refusing to designate critical habitat for the bumblebees is blatantly ignoring threats to the bees' population. These threats include habitat loss, pathogens, and pesticides.
Furthermore, they also said that the decision further weakens the protection for the bees under the Endangered Species Act and that the decision will undoubtedly hamper the recovery of the bees.
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The Fish and Wildlife Service replied that it was not necessary to designate "critical habitat" because the rusty patched bumblebees can find a habitat in places like the woodlands, marshes, prairies, and agricultural landscapes, and even in residential parks and gardens.
But the Natural Resources Defense Council, another environmental group, spoke out against the decision and said that it is a shock for USFWS not to designate a "critical habitat" for the rusty patched bumblebees.
They said that 90% of the historical range of the bees had been lost. It is expected from the USFWS to do its job in protecting the endangered species.
Rusty patched bumblebees listed as endangered species in 2017
In 2017, the rusty patched bumblebee was listed as an endangered species. It is the first to be in the US to make in the endangered species list. Business groups have raised concerns over this designation for fear that it could affect the agriculture, residential and commercial development, and energy production industries.
The once common bees have now declined in number, with only a few being scattered throughout ten states. It is estimated that only 0.1% of the former population is present today.
It is vital to address their declining population because these bees are responsible for the pollination of tomatoes, peppers, cranberries, and many other plants.
The Fish and Wildlife Service said that people could help boost the population of rusty patched bumblebees by growing a garden or by adding a native flowering tree to minimize pesticide use.
In addition, it would also help if some areas of the yard are left unmowed in the summer and unraked in the fall for the bees to nest in a safe place.
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