On January 11, 2017, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“Service”) published a final rule listing the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act of the 1973 (“ESA”). Pursuant to Section 4 of the ESA, the Service is required to make listing decisions – relying on the best scientific and commercial data available – based on (a) the present or threatened destruction, modification or curtailment of habitat, (b) species overutilization, (c) disease or predation, (d) inadequate existing regulatory mechanisms, or (e) other natural or manmade factors affecting the species continued existence. The Service’s decision to list the bee as endangered is based on a study of the species’ overall viability in which the Service found that the resiliency, representation, and redundancy of the species have all declined since the late 1990s and are projected to decline over the next several decades. The study showed an 88 percent decline in bee populations along with a decrease in range and distribution since 2000. The Service sites several past and ongoing stressors as likely causes of the decline in the bee’s population, including disease, pesticides, and habitat loss.
The final rule becomes effective on February 10, 2017.