An endangered bumblebee has become an unlikely victim of the hectic start to Donald Trump's presidency.
Last month, the rusty patched bumblebee – which is found in 13, mostly Midwestern states including Minnesota – became the first bee to make the endangered species list in the continental U.S.
However, before the bee could officially be placed on the list, President Trump was inaugurated and on the same day sent a memo out to government departments telling them to withdraw, freeze or delay all pending regulations until they can be reviewed by the new administration.
As a result, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision to add the bee to the endangered species has been postponed for 60 days while it's reviewed.
A spokeswoman with the Department of the Interior told GoMN that the bee had due to be added to the list effective Feb. 10, but this has been put back to Mar. 21.
She said it's still planned for the bee to be put on the endangered species list, saying the delay "is not expected to have an impact on the conservation of the species.
"FWS is developing a recovery plan to guide efforts to bring this species back to a healthy and secure condition."
Despite the DOI's comments, the delay has got people at the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) worried.
Senior NRDC attorney Rebecca Riley told GoMN the fear is that the Trump administration could reverse the decision to place it on the endangered species list.
She said putting the bee on the list would see protections put in place to mitigate threats to its survival, which includes loss of habitat, pesticide use and disease.
Federal Fish and Wildlife officials say the insect was very common 20 years ago, particularly in the Midwest and further east. It had been found in 28 different states. But since the late 1990s, the rusty patched bumblebee population has rapidly plummeted by 87 percent. Now they’re only found in 13 states – including Minnesota – and one Canadian province.
Wildlife officials believes several factors can be attributed to this decline: Loss of habitat, disease and parasites, pesticides, climate change, and just having a small population.
The NRDC is urging the White House not to "stand in the way" of saving the bee from extinction, in a news release issued on Thursday.