119,662 Americans: Give rusty patched bumble bee endangered status

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considers granting Endangered Species Act protection to the rusty patched bumble bee, groups are taking the fight to their front door. Friends of the Earth, Environment America, Environmental Action and the Sierra Club are delivering petitions to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife headquarters today signed by 119,662 people urging the agency to enact immediate protections for the bee. The agency is accepting comments on the listing until Nov. 21.

Rusty patched bumble bees pollinate everything from cranberries and blueberries to squash and clover, but they are dying quickly. Studies indicate they have disappeared from 87 percent of their historic range and by as much as 95 percent in recent decades.

The organizations submitting petitions note that these species are declining due to a variety of factors including habitat loss, climate change, parasites, diseases and pesticide use. Canada listed the rusty patched bumble bee as endangered five years ago while Vermont did so last year.

“Forty percent of invertebrate pollinator species are on the brink of extinction and the rusty patched bumble bee is one that we have the power to protect now,” said Tiffany Finck-Haynes, Friends of the Earth food futures campaigner.  “We call on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect rusty patched bumble bees across state borders with varying pesticide regulations by giving it endangered species status nationwide.”

“Honey bees deserve the attention they’ve received, but wild bees are struggling too,” said Alexander Rony, senior digital innovation campaigner at Sierra Club. “The rusty patched bumble bee is an excellent pollinator – starting early and ending late, hitting many different types of crops. Our survival depends on theirs: without bees, we lose our food staples.”

“Protecting the rusty patched bumble bee and all bees is essential to the ecosystem and our food supply,” said Christy Leavitt of Environment America. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should move swiftly and boldly to protect the rusty patched bumble bee as an engendered species. If bees disappear, it’s simple: no bees, no food.

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Expert contacts:
Tiffany Finck-Haynes, Friends of the Earth, 202-222-0715, tfinckhaynes@foe.org
Christy Leavitt, Environment America, 202-683-1250 x313, christyl@environmentamerica.org

Communications contacts:
Kate Colwell, Friends of the Earth, 202-222-0744, kcolwell@foe.org
Anusha Narayanan, Environment America, 847-338-1503, anusha@environmentamerica.org

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