Feds sued over delayed protection for vanishing bumblebee
An environmental group sued President Donald Trump's administration on Tuesday for delaying a rule that would designate the rusty patched bumblebee as an endangered species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a branch of the Interior Department,...
An environmental group sued President Donald Trump's administration on Tuesday for delaying a rule that would designate the rusty patched bumblebee 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 U.S., was published in the Federal Register on Jan. 11 and was to take effect last Friday.
But the Trump administration delayed that action until at least March 21 as part of a broader freeze of Obama administration policies.
The Natural Resources Defense Council argues in a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York that federal wildlife managers had violated the law by abruptly suspending the bumblebee's 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 bumblebee'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.
Bumblebees pollinate wildflowers and about a third of U.S. crops, from blueberries to tomatoes, according to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.
The bee, native to Minnesota and Wisconsin, would have been the first domestic bee ever protected under federal law. Its 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 News Tribune contributed to this report.