Newsroom
Midwest Region

 

News Release

July 21, 2011

Georgia Parham 812-334-4261 x 1203
Georgia_Parham@fws.gov

Scott Hamilton 573-234-2143 x 122
Scott_Hamilton@fws.gov

Proposal Would Return Colorful Endangered Beetle to Southwest Missouri

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to reintroduce the colorful American burying beetle to a natural area in southwest Missouri as part of a partnership with the St. Louis Zoo to recover this native endangered species. The proposed reintroduction would occur at Wah’kon-tah Prairie, a 3,030-acre site in St. Clair and Cedar counties, Missouri, jointly owned and managed by Missouri Department of Conservation and The Nature Conservancy.

The Service will work with the St. Louis Zoo, which maintains a captive population of American burying beetles, to release pairs of beetles in suitable habitat at the prairie.

As part of the effort, the Service is proposing that the American burying beetles at Wah-kon-tah Prairie and surrounding counties (Cedar, St. Clair, Bates, Vernon) be designated a “nonessential experimental” population. Such a designation gives managers more flexibility in working with the reintroduced species, and also provides assurance to nearby private landowners that the presence of a protected species will not affect their activities.

The Service is seeking public input on the proposal to establish a nonessential experimental population of American burying beetles in Missouri. You may submit information by one of the following methods:

Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments on Docket No. FWS-R3-ES-2011-0034.
U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R3-ES-2011-0034; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203.
Deadline for comments is August 22, 2011.

A public meeting will be held on August 11, 2011, from 6 pm to 8 pm at the El Dorado Springs Community Center, 135 W. Spring St., El Dorado Springs, Missouri. Representatives from the Service and the St. Louis Zoo will explain the proposed reintroduction and answer questions.

The American burying beetle was designated a federally endangered species in 1989 - the first insect species to be so recognized. Under the Endangered Species Act, plants and animals listed as endangered are at risk of becoming extinct in the foreseeable future.

The beetles are about 1 to 1.5 inches in length, with striking orange and black bodies. They are named for their habit of laying their eggs in carrion they bury underground, which sustains the larvae once they are hatched.

Historically, the American burying beetle was recorded in 35 states, including 13 counties throughout Missouri, and was most likely found throughout the state. The last documented American burying beetle in Missouri was collected from Newton County (southwest Missouri) in the mid-1970s. Monitoring for existing American burying beetle populations has been ongoing in Missouri since 1991, but none has been found. The reasons for the dramatic decline of this species are still unknown.

For more information on the American burying beetle and the Service’s activities to recover endangered species, visit www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered

 

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Last updated: November 4, 2013