MassWildlife: Bald eagles are rebounding, but bumble bees are now endangered

Image of bumble bee on purple flower.

(WBUR) Massachusetts’ Division of Fisheries and Wildlife is proposing an update to its list of endangered, threatened and special concern species to include three bees. The American bumble bee and Walsh’s Anthopora would be listed as endangered, while the yellow-banded bumble bee would be listed as threatened. The state Fisheries and Wildlife Board plans an Aug. 28 public hearing at MassWildlife’s Westborough field headquarters to take feedback on the proposed changes.

Scientists decry ‘ignorance’ of rolling back species protections in the midst of a mass extinction

Map of the United States.

(Washington Post) In North America alone, at least 277 plant and animal species have gone extinct. In the past 500 years, humans have wiped out nearly 2 1/2 percent of amphibian species, 2 percent of mammals and birds, and about 1 percent of reptiles and fish. At a geological scale that’s a stunning rate of extinction in a vanishingly brief period of time. However, the full list of the fallen is composed primarily of mollusks, insects and other more obscure organisms – and it is egregiously incomplete. “We’re obliterating landscapes before we’ve even had a chance to catalogue the species that lived there.”

Big buzz about program to turn lawns into pollinator habitat

Image of bee on flowers.

(Minnesota Public Radio) The Lawns to Legumes program received $900,000 in funding this year from the Legislative Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources. The initiative aims to help homeowners lawns into pollinator habitat. Over the winter, homeowners will be able to apply for roughly $700,000 in cost share funds for pollinator habitat projects. A priority area for the funding will be where endangered rusty patched bumble bees live.

This has been a bad week for bees

Image of rusty patch bumble bee.

(The Bee Report) The Trump administration weakened the Endangered Species Act. Franklin’s bumble bee is being considered for the Endangered Species List – but under the newly-weakened law. And the yellow-banded bumble bee won’t be considered for protection as an endangered or threatened species (despite the fact that it’s now found in only 14 of the 25 states it used to inhabit).

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes Endangered Species Act protection for Franklin’s bumble bee

Image of Franklin's bumble bee on yellow flower.

(Xerces Society) Responding to a petition from the Xerces Society and the late Dr. Robbin Thorp, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service will propose to list Franklin’s bumble bee as an endangered species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, making it the first bee in the western U.S. to be officially recognized under the ESA. The proposed rule by FWS can be found in the Federal Register.

Trump administration weakens protections for endangered species

Image of bald eagle perched on tree.

(New York Times) The Endangered Species Act has been the most essential piece of United States legislation for protecting fish, plants and wildlife, and has acted as a safety net for species on the brink of extinction – including the rusty patched bumble bee. The changes could clear the way for new mining, oil and gas drilling, and development in areas where protected species live. The new rules will make it harder to consider the effects of climate change on wildlife when deciding whether a given species warrants protection. The new rules would also, for the first time, allow economic factors to be taken into account when making determinations.

Proposed pipeline dealt another setback by federal court to protect rusty patched bumble bee

Image of pipeline construction from above.

(CBS19) The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday tossed out a key permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline that deals with the project’s effects on threatened or endangered species – including the rusty patched bumble bee. The court wrote that, in fast-tracking the Biological Opinion in connection to the proposed pipeline, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service “appears to have lost sight of its mandate under the [Endangered Species Act]: ‘to protect and conserve endangered and threatened species and their habitats.'” The full decision by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals can be found here.