[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 16 (Friday, January 24, 2020)]
[Pages 4334-4336]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-01203]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[Docket No. FWS-R3-ES-2019-0100; FXES11130300000-190-FF03E00000]

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Draft Recovery 
Plan for the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability and request for public comment.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the 
availability of the draft recovery plan for rusty patched bumble bee 
for public review and comment. We request review and comment on this 
draft recovery plan from local, State, and Federal agencies, and the 

DATES: We must receive comments by February 24, 2020.

ADDRESSES: Document availability: The draft recovery plan, along with 
any comments and other materials that we receive, will be available for 
public inspection at http://www.regulations.gov in Docket No. FWS-R3-

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    Submitting Comments: You may submit comments by one of the 
following methods:
     Internet: http://www.regulations.gov. Search for and 
submit comments on Docket No. FWS-R3-ES-2019-0100.
     U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, 
Attn: Docket No. FWS-R3-ES-2019-0100; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
Headquarters, MS: JAO/1N; 5275 Leesburg Pike; Falls Church, VA 22041-
    For more information, see Availability of Public Comments under 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tamara Smith, by phone at 952-252-
0092, via email at tamara_smith@fws.gov, or via the Federal Relay 
Service at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(Service), announce the availability of the draft recovery plan for the 
endangered rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis) for public review 
and comment. The draft recovery plan includes objective, measurable 
criteria and management actions as may be necessary for removal of the 
species from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. We 
request review and comment on this draft recovery plan from local, 
State, and Federal agencies, and the public.

Recovery Planning

    Section 4(f) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended 
(Act; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), requires the development of recovery 
plans for listed species, unless such a plan would not promote the 
conservation of a particular species. Also pursuant to section 4(f) of 
the Act, a recovery plan must, to the maximum extent practicable, 
include (1) a description of site-specific management actions as may be 
necessary to achieve the plan's goals for the conservation and survival 
of the species; (2) objective, measurable criteria that, when met, 
would support a determination under section 4(a)(1) that the species 
should be removed from the List of Endangered and Threatened Species; 
and (3) estimates of the time and costs required to carry out those 
measures needed to achieve the plan's goal and to achieve intermediate 
steps toward that goal.

Species Background

    Historically, the rusty patched bumble bee was broadly distributed 
across the eastern United States and Upper Midwest, from Maine in the 
United States and southern Quebec and Ontario in Canada, south to the 
northeast corner of Georgia, reaching west to the eastern edges of 
North and South Dakota (Figure 1; USFWS 2016, p. 49). Survival and 
successful recruitment require floral resources (for food) from early 
spring through fall, undisturbed nest sites in proximity to foraging 
resources, and overwintering sites for the next year's queens. Prior to 
listing (in 2017), the species experienced a widespread and precipitous 
decline. The cause of the decline is unknown, but evidence suggests a 
synergistic interaction between an introduced pathogen and exposure to 
pesticides (specifically, insecticides and fungicides; USFWS 2016, p. 
53). The remaining populations of rusty patched bumble bee are exposed 
to a number of interacting stressors, including pathogens, pesticides, 
habitat loss and degradation, managed bees, the effects of climate 
change, and small population biology (USFWS 2016, p. 40). These 
stressors likely operate independently and in combination, causing 
synergistic effects. Refer to the Species Status Assessment Report 
(USFWS 2016) for a full discussion of the species' biology and threats. 
Under the Act, the Service published a final rule to add the rusty 
patched bumble bee to the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened 
Wildlife as an endangered species on January 11, 2017 (82 FR 3186). The 
final rule took effect on February 10, 2017.

Recovery Criteria

    The draft recovery criteria are summarized below. For a complete 
description of the rationale behind the criteria, the recovery 
strategy, management actions, and estimated time and costs associated 
with recovery, refer to the Draft Recovery Plan for Rusty Patched 
Bumble Bee (see ADDRESSES for document availability).
    The ultimate recovery goal is to remove the rusty patched bumble 
bee from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife 
(``delist'') by ensuring the long-term viability of the species in the 
wild. In the recovery plan, we define the following criteria for 
reclassification (``downlisting'' from endangered to threatened) and 
delisting based on the best available information on the species.

Downlisting Criteria

    Criterion 1: A minimum of 159 populations distributed across 5 
Conservation Units, as specified in the table below.
    Criterion 2: A minimum number of healthy populations within each 
Conservation Unit, as specified in the table below.
    For recovery purposes, a healthy population will be demonstrated 
    2.1 Consistent detection of at least 5 distinct colonies over the 
most recent 10 years. Individual colonies may be identified through 
genetic analyses or by using the number of individuals detected (if 
proven, through research, to be a reliable method). All 5 colonies do 
not need to be detected in each of the 10 years but must be detected in 
multiple years.
    2.2 Evidence of genetic health over the most recent 10 years. 
Genetic health must be demonstrated by at least two genetic metrics 
(e.g., effective population size, heterozygosity, and allelic 
    2.3 Pathogen and pesticide loads are below levels that could cause 
meaningful loss of reproductive capacity of the population.
    2.4 A high level of certainty--demonstrated via a rigorous 
analysis--that the population will persist given stressors and 
environmental variation.
    Criterion 3: Population clusters are distributed across a diversity 
of habitat types, aspects, slopes, elevations, and latitudes within 
each Conservation Unit. A population cluster is two or more healthy 
populations that are adjacent to each other.

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     Rusty Patched Bumble Bee Conservation Units (CU), Total Number of Historically Occupied Populations per
    Conservation Unit, Minimum Number of Populations per Conservation Unit (Downlisting Criterion 1), and the
              Minimum Number of Healthy Populations per Conservation Unit (Downlisting Criterion 2)
                                        Number of historically     Minimum number of        Minimum number of
          Conservation Unit              occupied populations      populations per CU      healthy populations
                                                per CU               (Criterion 1)        per CU  (Criterion 2)
CU1: Upper West......................                      274                       32                       16
CU2: Lower West......................                      125                       14                        7
CU3: Midwest.........................                      347                       40                       20
CU4: Southeast.......................                      250                       29                       14
CU5: Northeast.......................                      389                       45                       22
    Total............................                    1,385                      159                       80

Delisting Criteria

    Criterion 1: Downlisting criteria 1, 2, and 3 have been met.
    Criterion 2: Mechanisms are in place that provide a high level of 
certainty that downlisting Criteria 1, 2, and 3 will continue to be met 
into the foreseeable future.
    In achieving delisting Criterion 2, Conservation Unit-specific 
mechanisms should ensure:
    2.1 Population abundance, numbers, and distribution will be 
maintained at the levels required to meet downlisting criteria,
    2.2 Sufficient quality and quantity of suitable habitat will be 
maintained, and
    2.3 The negative effects of the primary threats (including but not 
limited to pathogens, pesticides, climate change, and managed bees) 
will be managed.

Availability of Public Comments

    Before including your address, phone number, email address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.


    The authority for this action is section 4(f) of the Endangered 
Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 1533(f).

Lori Nordstrom,
Assistant Regional Director, Ecological Services, Midwest Region.
[FR Doc. 2020-01203 Filed 1-23-20; 8:45 am]