What’s an insect have to do to get on the endangered species list these days? That’s the question some environmentalists are asking after a failed attempt to get a vanishing bumble bee species added to the list. Environmentalists with the Xerces Society got so frustrated with the lack of response about adding the rusty patched bumble bee that they filed a lawsuit against US government agencies to draw attention to the issue.
Disease, habitat destruction and pesticides have decimated bee populations across the US. But the rusty patched bee, whose relative numbers have been reduced by somewhere around 95 percent when compared to other species, has been disappearing at an alarming rate. Scientists aren’t sure exactly how much the population has been reduced because exact numbers are hard to calculate, but the species is certainly at risk and environmentalists want the protection that comes with listing the bee as endangered to help protect it.
Last year the Xerces Society petitioned the Interior Department to list the bee as endangered but received no response. So the society sued the Interior Department along with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Right now, there aren’t any bees listed as endangered, though several bees native to Hawaii are under consideration, despite the fact that bee populations have suffered dramatic losses.