It's an alarming report that is sure to make waves in the scientific community.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has come to a worrying conclusion: a type of bumblebee that is native to North America faces possible extinction if something isn’t done. The service has recommended that the Bombus affinis, or rusty patched bumblebee, be added to the endangered species list in the United States, the first bee species to achieve that status — and a worrying sign of a coming environmental future.
The FDA said in a statement that these bumblebees are extremely important to a healthy ecosystem and to our own food security. Bees spread pollen between plants, allowing them to reproduce. It is estimated that native insect species combined contribute $3 billion to the economy every year.
“We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 12-month finding on a petition to list the rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis) as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act, as amended (Act),” the statement reads. “After review of the best available scientific and commercial information, we find that listing the rusty patched bumble bee is warranted. Accordingly, we propose to list the rusty patched bumble bee, a species that occurs in the eastern and midwestern United States and Ontario, Canada, as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (Act). If we finalize this rule as proposed, it would extend the Act’s protections to this species. The effect of this regulation will be to add this species to the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.”
The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation was the organization that originally filed a request in 2013 for the rusty patched bumblebee to placed on the endangered list, and now the FDA has obliged them. Scientists estimate that the species has declined in population by an astonishing 87 percent in recent years.
The statement adds: “The basis for our action. Under the Act, we can determine that a species is an endangered or threatened species based on any of five factors: (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (B) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (C) Disease or predation; (D) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or (E) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence. While the exact cause of the species’ decline is uncertain, the primary causes attributed to the decline include habitat loss and degradation, pathogens, pesticides, and small population dynamics.”