Sunday, 19 February 2017

Environmentalists warn of bumblebee's extinction after Trump halts regulations

Order for 60-day pause on regulations not yet implemented includes protection for endangered rusty patched bumblebee, which experts say is near extinction

Oliver Milman

Friday 10 February 2017 17.38 GMT Last modified on Friday 10 February 2017 18.03 GMT 

Donald Trump has been accused of targeting Muslims, media outlets and even department stores in his first month in the White House. Now, the US president may have doomed a threatened bumblebee.

An executive order freezing new regulations could push the rusty patched bumblebee towards extinction, environmental groups claim. The 60-day pause on all federal regulations that have yet to be implemented – which includes the bumblebee protection – will review “questions of fact, law, and policy they raise”, according to the White House memo. 

The bumblebee was the first bee of any kind in the contiguous US to ever be declared as endangered, with the listing decided during the final days of Barack Obama’s administration. Trump’s halt on new regulations came just one day before protections were formally put in place for the crucial pollinator.

The rusty patched bumblebee was once abundant across 28 states from Connecticut to South Dakota. However, the widespread loss of grasslands and prairies, pesticide use and a parasitic fungus have taken a severe toll on the black- and yellow-striped insect.

The species is now found in scattered populations in the midwest, having suffered an 87% population slump since the mid-1990s. Conservationists fear the pause in protection for the bee could seal its demise, especially if the regulation were delayed further.


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