Declining American bumblebee populations and their complete disappearance from eight states have led to a call for the bee to be placed under endangered species law before it is threatened with extinction.
According to a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity and the Bombus Pollinators Association of Law Students, Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, Idaho, North Dakota, Wyoming and Oregon each have zero or almost zero American bumblebees.
“The American bumblebee was once the most common bumblebee species in North America, but without immediate action to protect it under ESA, it will continue its alarming decline towards extinction,” wrote the authors of the petition.
Over the past two decades, the American bumblebee population has declined by 89% across the United States. New York has seen a 99% drop and they have disappeared from the northern part of Illinois which has seen a 74% decrease in its population since 2004, according to the petition. .
Climate change, pesticides, disease, habitat loss and competition from honey bees are listed as leading the bee to extinction.
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The petition was submitted to the US Fish and Wildlife Service on February 1 for review to determine if the insect could be listed as endangered and if critical habitat could be identified for the bee under the Act. endangered species.
A 90-day review conducted by the US Fish and Wildlife Service found substantial evidence that listing the American bumblebee under the Endangered Species Act may, in fact, be warranted.
The review is now heading towards a 12-month status review where the US Fish and Wildlife Service will assess the potential threat to the species.
“This is an important first step in preventing the extinction of this fuzzy black and yellow beauty that was once a familiar sight,” Jess Tyler, Center scientist and co-author of the petition, said in a statement. . “To survive the uncontrolled threats of disease, habitat loss and pesticide poisoning, American bumblebees need the full protection of endangered species law now.”
The Bombus Pollinator Association of Law Students, or BPALS, is a group of 14 students from Albany Law School who have collaborated with the Center for Biological Diversity, a nonprofit that works to protect endangered species. of disappearance, to file the petition.
The disappearance of the insect could have serious repercussions on the environment and agricultural production, as they are essential pollinators in agriculture. If the American bumblebee is added to the endangered species list, it will join the rusty-patched bumblebee.
If federal protection is granted, anyone found guilty of killing or injuring the bee could face fines of up to $ 13,000.
Follow reporter Asha Gilbert @Coastalasha. Email: email@example.com.