Trump administration sued over protection for vanishing bumble bee

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By Laura Zuckerman

<span class="articleLocation”>An environmental group sued U.S. President
Donald Trump’s administration on Tuesday for delaying a rule
that would designate the rusty patched bumble bee as an
endangered species.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a branch of the Interior
Department, in September proposed bringing the bee under federal
safeguards.

The rule formalizing the listing of the vanishing
pollinator, once widely found in the upper Midwest and
Northeastern United States, was published in the Federal
Register on Jan. 11 and was to take effect last Friday.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) said the
listing has been delayed until March 21 as part of a broader
freeze ordered by Trump’s White House on rules issued by the
prior administration aimed at protecting public health and the
environment.

The group argued in a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District
Court for the Southern District of New York that U.S. wildlife
managers had violated the law by abruptly suspending the bumble
bee listing without public notice or comment. They said the rule
technically became final when it was published in the Federal
Register.

The lawsuit seeks to have a judge declare that the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service acted unlawfully and to order the agency to
rescind the rule delaying the bumble bee’s listing.

“The science is clear – this species is headed toward
extinction, and soon. There is no legitimate reason to delay
federal protections,” Natural Resources Defense Council senior
attorney Rebecca Riley said in a statement.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service could not immediately be
reached for comment.

Bumble bees pollinate wildflowers and about a third of U.S.
crops, from blueberries to tomatoes, according to the Xerces
Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

The bee’s population and range have declined by more than 90
percent since the late 1990s due to disease, pesticides, climate
change and habitat loss, according to wildlife officials.

The insect is one of 47 varieties of native bumble bees in
the United States and Canada, more than a quarter of which face
the risk of extinction, according to the International Union for
the Conservation of Nature.

In September, seven varieties of yellow-faced bees in Hawaii
became the first such insects to be added to the U.S. list of
endangered species because of losses due to habitat destruction,
wildfires and the invasion of nonnative plants and insects.



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