Protection for the beleaguered rusty patched bumblebee was set to begin on February 10.
Jeez, the bees just can't get a break. Pollinators are being knocked out left and right, and as soon as they get some good news, bam, in comes the federal government to rain on their parade.
The rusty patched bumblebee has lost more than 90 percent of its range in the past 20 years and was set to become the first-ever bee species in the continental U.S. to be listed as endangered – the listing was to go into effect February 10. But now, just one day before, President Donald Trump has signed an executive order freezing any regulations passed under President Obama that have yet to take effect – which includes protection for the bee. Sorry, dying endangered bumblebee, such is life in politics.
The rusty patched bumblebee is native to the Midwest and East Coast and is a crucial crop pollinator. Once abundant, its numbers began declining in the 1990s, like many of its apian kin. Although last year the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) added seven other bee species to the endangered list, they all hailed from Hawaii; the rusty patched is the first from the Lower 48 to earn the depressing distinction. According to FWS, the bumblebees are suffering from the effects of: Habitat loss and degradation; intensive farming; disease; pesticides: and global climate change.
Due to the new executive order, the FWS says now that the effective date will be March 21, according to the Associated Press. But it still feels like a precarious limbo – a lot can happen in six weeks, and that's it there aren't further executive freezes and orders.
The Natural Resources Defense Council is “exploring all options, including litigation,” Rebecca Riley, senior attorney at the NRDC, told The Verge. “This bee is critically endangered, it’s one of the most critically endangered species in the United States,” she adds. “The bee can’t wait. It needs the protections of the Endangered Species Act and it needs them now.”
Cue fantasy of sci-fi horror movie in which bumblebees descend upon the White House. Seriously, we can't lose the bees – resist, little guys!