An executive order freezing new regulations could push the rusty patched bumblebee towards extinction, environmental groups claim.
Donald Trump has been accused of targeting Muslims, media outlets and even department stores in his first month in the White House. Now, the US president may have doomed a threatened bumblebee.
An executive order freezing new regulations could push the rusty patched bumblebee towards extinction, environmental groups claim. The 60-day pause on all federal regulations that have yet to be implemented – which includes the bumblebee protection – will review “questions of fact, law, and policy they raise”, according to the White House memo.
The bumblebee was the first bee of any kind in the contiguous US to ever be declared as endangered, with the listing decided during the final days of Barack Obama’s administration. Trump’s halt on new regulations came just one day before protections were formally put in place for the crucial pollinator.
The rusty patched bumblebee was once abundant across 28 states from Connecticut to South Dakota. However, the widespread loss of grasslands and prairies, pesticide use and a parasitic fungus have taken a severe toll on the black- and yellow-striped insect.
The species is now found in scattered populations in the midwest, having suffered an 87% population slump since the mid-1990s. Conservationists fear the pause in protection for the bee could seal its demise, especially if the regulation were delayed further.
“The Trump administration has put the rusty patched bumblebee back on the path to extinction,” said Rebecca Riley, senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “This bee is one of the most critically endangered species in the country and we can save it – but not if the White House stands in the way.”
However, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has said it is still developing a recovery plan and expects that the delay will not cause the species’ extinction.
Last month, Tom Melius, FWS midwest regional director, said: “Our top priority is to act quickly to prevent extinction of the rusty patched bumblebee. Listing the bee as endangered will help us mobilize partners and focus resources on finding ways right now to stop the decline.
“Pollinators are small but mighty parts of the natural mechanism that sustains us and our world. Without them, our forests, parks, meadows and shrublands, and the abundant, vibrant life they support, cannot survive, and our crops require laborious, costly pollination by hand.”
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