Save America’s Wildlife

The rusty patched bumblebee wins in court

Ruling could lead to habitat protections for the endangered bee

BeeBalm, USFWS Midwest Region via Flickr | Public Domain

In a court decision this past Friday, a judge ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) lacked a “satisfactory explanation” for not providing habitat protections for the endangered rusty patched bumblebee. 

As background, when a species is listed as endangered or threatened, the government issues what’s called a “critical habitat designation” to protect the species home turf, so to speak, and enable it to recover. 

But in the case of the rusty patched bumblebee, the Fish and Wildlife Service said that habitat designation would not be “prudent” and argued that pesticides were at fault for the bee’s dramatic decline. And yet it also pointed to habitat loss as an ongoing challenge for the bee’s survival. 

After this ruling, let’s hope the agency sees the wisdom of protecting habitat for this important pollinator. And finally, a thank you to the groups that pressed the issue in the courts: NRDC, Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of Minnesota Scientific and Natural Areas. 

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