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American Burying Beetle

Endangered Species Returned to Wayne National Forest

News Release from Wayne National Forest

Wayne National Forest

Public Affairs Office

13700 US HWY 33
Nelsonville, Ohio  45764-9880 ● Voice (740) 753-0101



For Immediate Release 



U.S. Forest Service: Gary C. Chancey (740) 753-0862 or Lynda Andrews (740) 753-0550
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:  Angela Boyer (614) 416-8993 x 22
Ohio Division of Wildlife: Carolyn Caldwell, (614) 265-6329
The Wilds: Toni Kellar and Dan Beetem, (740) 638-5030
St. Louis Zoo: Bob Merz, (614) 646-4804
Ohio State University: George Keeney, (614) 292-9634

Nelsonville, OH – (June 9, 2009) The Wayne National Forest along with several partners released more than 500 pairs of the American burying beetle (ABB) onto the Forest in an effort to reintroduce populations of this endangered species in a tri-county area including Athens, Morgan, and Perry County. This was the largest number of beetles released in Ohio in a single year.


This is the second year that partners have released the rare beetle on the Forest in hopes the species will establish itself in Wayne National Forest. In 2008, 250 pairs of beetles were introduced. The beetles used in the release came from rearing facilities at Ohio State University, The Wilds, and the St. Louis Zoo.


The release sites will be monitored as they were in 2008 for signs of breeding activity by checking for larvae and, later, new adult beetles. In 2008, the beetles did show signs of reproduction. The last known record of an American burying beetle in the State of Ohio occurred in 1974 in Hocking County.


“The ABB was once a part of the diverse historic fauna found in the Buckeye state. I am a firm believer that no native species is insignificant enough to not care about its continued existence,” said Athens ranger district wildlife biologist, Lynda Andrews.


“Our goal is to establish self-sustaining populations of the  American burying beetle, so that one day, it will no longer need the protection of the Endangered Species Act,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Biologist Angela Boyer.  “As with many wildlife management efforts, partnerships are playing a significant role in restoring this missing piece of Ohio’s natural landscape.”


Among the partners joining the Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife Service are the Ohio DNR, Division of Wildlife; Ohio State University; The Wilds; the St. Louis Zoo; and the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens.  Funding came from the Ohio Division of Wildlife through donations to the Wildlife Diversity and Endangered Species Program.   This program receives donations through the state income tax checkoff and revenues from the sale of the wildlife conservation license plate.   The other partners provided substantial in-kind services. 


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 likely to become extinct in the foreseeable future.  The beetles are about 1 to 1.5 inches in length with orange and black bodies. They are named for their habit of burying their eggs in carrion, which sustains the larvae once they are hatched.


The Wayne National Forest 2006 Land and Resource Management Plan says the Forest will cooperate in efforts to reintroduce the American burying beetle. The Forest is also following procedures described in U.S. Forest Service Manual 2674.


American Burying Beetle