It’s official: For the first time in the United States, a bumblebee species has been declared endangered.
The rusty patched bumblebee (Bombus affinis), once a common sight, is “now balancing precariously on the brink of extinction,” according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Once thriving in 28 states and the District of Columbia, but over the past two decades, the bee’s population has plummeted nearly 90 percent. There are more than 3,000 bee species in the United States, and about 40 belong to the genus Bombus—the bumblebees.
Advocates for the rusty patched bumblebee’s listing are abuzz with relief, but it may be the first skirmish in a grueling conflict over the fate of the Endangered Species Act under the Trump administration.
On January 11, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finalized the bumblebee’s listing as an endangered species. But on January 20, the bee got stung by the Trump administration’s efforts to postpone and reviewObama-era regulations that hadn’t yet taken into effect. On February 10, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the bumblebee’s listing would take effect on March 21, more than a month after it was originally scheduled.