The final ruling came from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in early 2017. This critical move could help protect the insect species. You know, we only recently realized the humble bumble as critical to Earth’s ecosystem. (2)
“Listing the bee as endangered will help us mobilize partners,” said Wildlife Midwest Regional Director Tom Melius, “and focus resources on finding ways right now to stop the decline.”
Since the late 1990s, the rusty patched bumblebee population numbers declined by 87%.
This is important from a macro-ecosystem perspective. You see, bees play an integral role in pollinating critical food supplies, approximately 35% of global food sources. Specifically, bees help pollinate blueberries, cranberries, tomatoes, and many other fruits and vegetables.
“The rusty patched bumblebee is among a group of pollinators, including the monarch butterfly, experiencing serious declines across the country,” said Melius. “Why is this important? Pollinators are small but mighty parts of the natural mechanism that sustains us and our world. Without them … our crops require laborious, costly pollination by hand.”
Why The Decline?
There are a variety of reasons for the drastic plummet in rusty patched bumblebee numbers. Primarily, this includes a loss of habitat.
Approximately 40% of all land is ultimately used for agriculture, and so factors like spraying pesticides contribute to the bumblebees’ decline.
A wide variety of bumblebee species exist—in fact there are 47 of them located within North America. And over 4,000 species of bees.
Although the rusty patched bumblebee made the endangered species list, a spokesperson for the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Sarina Jepsen, says that 25% of all bumblebee species could potentially go extinct in a relatively short period of time.
“Now that the Fish and Wildlife Service has listed the rusty patched bumblebee as endangered,” said Jepsen, “it stands a chance of surviving the many threats it faces.”