Protect the Rusty-Patched Bumblebee from Extinction


Target: Bridget Fahey, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Endangered Species Headquarters Chief of Division of Conservation and Classification

Goal: List the rusty-patched bumblebee as an endangered species to ensure its survival and protection.

In 2013, the Xerces Society petitioned the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) on behalf of the rusty-patched bumblebee, which is threatened by a number of factors including habitat loss, disease, climate change, and pesticide contamination. The bee has experienced a decline of about 90 percent in the past two decades — and this may even be a low estimate, since population counts have not been confirmed since 2000. Now, the USFWS is finally making a move toward protecting this important pollinator. Federal wildlife officials have formally recommended listing the bee as an endangered species, which would be a huge conservation step. The public has 60 days to comment on the proposed ruling, and a final decision will be made within the year.

If this ruling is approved, the rusty-patched bumblebee will become the first bee on the endangered species list, which could set the stage for conservation of other bees and important pollinators. This is significant not only for the promotion of healthy ecosystems, but also for global food security. Bumblebees play a critical role in pollinating wildflowers as well as about a third of crops grown in the U.S. — almonds, apples, and avocados, to name just a few. The rusty-patched bumblebee is especially important for the pollination of cranberries, blueberries, and tomatoes, and has been used in commercial farming efforts. In a nutshell, it would not be extreme to say that if we want to eat food, we should be urgently and whole-heartedly seeking to protect bee populations.

A spokesperson from the Xerces Society recently commented that protection under the Endangered Species Act may be the last hope for the bee’s survival. In fact, if conservation efforts are too late, the bee may face extinction within our lifetimes. Act now to convince the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of the urgency of this matter. The rusty-patched bumblebee must be listed as endangered and protected to the fullest extent possible.


Dear Ms. Fahey,

Thank you for beginning the process of listing the rusty-patched bumblebee as an endangered species. This is an important step for pollinators, and it comes not a moment too soon. Bumblebees are critical to the life cycles of many plant species, not least of all about a third of U.S. crops.

I urge you to act with haste on the conservation of this bee. The research, as you know, shows that populations have declined by 90 percent in the past two decades, and considering the difficulty of tracking, and the fact that these counts are now 16 years old, there is every likelihood that this is a low estimate. The rusty-patched bumblebee belongs on the endangered species list, and it cannot wait. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must take every measure possible to ensure that this pollinator does not go extinct.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: P7r7

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