It’s Official — First Bumblebee Has Just Been Added To The List Of Endangered Species

Its official, the bumblebee has joined the ever-growing list of endangered species together with the grizzly bear, gray wolf, northern spotted owl and some 700 other animal species that are nearly wiped off the face of the earth. Once abundant in the grasslands and prairies of the East and Midwest, the rusty-patched bee has been restricted to protections in the continental United States as its population keeps dwindling at an alarming rate.

It's been estimated that as much as 95 percent only exists in isolated pockets in 12 states and the province of Ontario Canada.

"There are a few little spots where we know they are," James stranger, a research entomologist and bumble be ecologist told Forbes. "But only a really few spots."

Scientifically named Bombus affinis, this be was named for the red patch in its abdomen and it took longer than expected to put this bee into the list of endangered species list thanks to the tossing and turning in Trump's administration. The original listing date was set for February 10 but it wasn't until yesterday that it was listed.

Xerces Society director of endangered species Sarah Jepsen said of Tuesday’s announcement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,

“We are thrilled to see one of North America’s most endangered species receive the protection it needs. Now that the Fish and Wildlife Service has listed the rusty-patched bumble bee as endangered, it stands a chance of surviving the many threats it faces — from the use of neonicotinoid pesticides to diseases.”

Human encroachment led to the subsequent loss of their natural habitat which played a significant role in the bee's declining population. The classification will foster the conservation of tall grasses and protection of grasslands that the bee's and other pollinators naturally thrive.

“While this listing clearly supports the rusty patched bumble bee, the entire suite of pollinators that share its habitat, and which are so critical to natural ecosystems and agriculture, will also benefit,” asserted Rich Hatfield, a Xerces Society senior conservation biologist. “This is a positive step towards the conservation of this species, and we now have to roll up our sleeves to begin the actual on-the-ground conservation that will help it move toward recovery.”

While the move has been welcomed, there's a chance the designation of bumble bees as an endangered species may not sit well with several industries and corporations. Therefore, the move might face a lot of challenges.

“The implications of this hasty listing decision are difficult to overstate,” states a petition from American Petroleum Institute, National Association of Home Builders, National Cotton Council of America, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, and two entities to the Secretary of the Interior and Acting Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, requesting a year’s delay in the listing.

Without a hint of irony — considering pollinators are responsible for the propagation of around one-third of our food supply — the petition goes on to deem the listing of the rusty-patched bumble bee as “one of the most significant species listings in decades in terms of scope and impact on human activities.”