The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the American bumblebee, whose populations have plummeted by nearly 90 percent, may warrant Endangered Species Act protection. The announcement kicks off a one-year status assessment of the species. A Federal Register document follows a petition filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and others.
The Center says the species’ decline has resulted from multiple concurrent threats, including habitat loss, pesticides, disease, climate change, and competition from non-native honeybees. The organization says Pesticide use, especially the widespread use of neonicotinoid insecticides, reduces survival and harms reproduction as well as bumblebee immune systems.
American bumblebees were first described before the United States won its independence and are known by their distinctive black-and-yellow color pattern. The Fish and Wildlife Service will now initiate a scientific status review and public comment period before making a final decision on whether to protect the bumblebee.