The American bumblebee needs endangered species protection

The American bumblebee has vanished from eight states, and it’s teetering on the brink of extinction.

Save the bees


Texas Parks and Wildlife Department | Used by permission
An American bumblebee in Lockhart State Park, Texas.

American bumblebees (Bombus pensylvanicus) once lazily buzzed over backyards, fields and meadows across our country.

Today, the species has vanished from eight states, and it’s teetering on the brink of extinction.

Why is the American bumblebee endangered?

The American bumblebee (Bombus pensylvanicus) population has plummeted by 90% since the year 2000 due to the same factors that affect all precious pollinators: the widespread use of bee-killing pesticides, habitat loss and climate change.

It’s not too late to save the American bumblebee — but we need to act fast.

Eight states — Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wyoming — have already lost the American bumblebee entirely. The species has declined by 99% in New York and by more than 50% in the Midwest and the Southeast. And yet, the American bumblebee is not protected as an endangered species.

How we can save the American bumblebee

The Endangered Species Act can turn things around for the American bumblebee. It’s our best tool to prevent extinction, with a 90% success rate. This is the law that saved the bald eagle and the American crocodile — and now it can do the same for the American bumblebee.

By listing this fuzzy flier as endangered, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would be required to create a recovery plan — helping to create safe havens for these bumblebees and give them the monitoring and protection they need to begin to thrive again.

In September 2021, the agency found that endangered species protections may be warranted for the bee. While that’s a good start, nothing has happened in the year and a half since.

We need urgent and quick action to save American bumblebees now, before we lose them forever.

Together, we can win

Over the past few years, our staff and supporters across the country have helped win commitments from home improvement stores to stop selling plants with bee-killing neonic pesticides, and we’ve won laws in several states banning some of these pesticides’ worst uses. We’ve even won new protections for bees on land owned by the Department of Defense.

But bees still need our help. The rusty patched bumblebee and Franklin’s bumblebee have both been granted endangered species protections. Now it’s time to do the same for the American bumblebee — before it’s too late.

Let’s save the American bumblebee this Earth Day

This Earth Day, we’re not only celebrating our amazing planet but also remembering the hard work and activism it takes to keep our environment healthy and whole.

Add your name to tell the Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the American bumblebee under the Endangered Species Act today.

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Steve Blackledge

Senior Director, Conservation America Campaign, Environment America

Steve directs Environment America’s efforts to protect our public lands and waters and the species that depend on them. He led our successful campaign to win full and permanent funding for our nation’s best conservation and recreation program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund. He previously oversaw U.S. PIRG’s public health campaigns. Steve lives in Sacramento, California, with his family, where he enjoys biking and exploring Northern California.