Newsroom Midwest Region

August 31, 2020


Georgia Parham,,
(812) 593-8501

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determines designating critical
habitat is not warranted for the rusty patched bumble bee

Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that designating critical habitat is not warranted for the endangered rusty patched bumble bee.

The rusty patched bumble bee was listed as endangered in 2017 after surveys found its populations had dropped by nearly 90 percent. The bee once was found in 31 states and provinces from Connecticut to South Dakota. It now occurs only in scattered populations in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Ontario, Canada.

“The designation of critical habitat plays a very specific role in species recovery and is prudent when a species’ recovery is dependent on specific habitat elements it needs to survive,” said Lori Nordstrom, assistant regional director for Ecological Services in the Service’s Great Lakes region. “As a habitat generalist, the rusty patched bumble bee can find the habitat it needs in a variety of ecosystems, including prairies, woodlands, marshes, agricultural landscapes and residential parks and gardens, all of which are abundant across the bee’s range.”

In determining that a critical habitat designation is not prudent for the rusty patched bumble bee, the Service noted that since the bee was listed in 2017, biologists have gathered additional information indicating that habitat is not the primary limiting factor for the species. In addition, the agency has developed maps identifying priority zones for the bee, focusing conservation activities on the most essential areas to prevent further loss of colonies, providing educational benefits by creating greater public awareness of the rusty patched bumble bee and its conservation needs, and preventing inadvertent harm to the species.

The Service recently drafted a recovery plan for the rusty patched bumble bee that outlines measures the Service and partners can take to slow the decline of the bee and begin the path to recovery. Recovery actions include preventing loss of existing populations and developing practices to address threats from pesticide use, disease and climate change.

Learn more about the Service's efforts to recover the rusty patched bumble bee.