Donald Trump is facing legal action over a decision to delay putting the first species of bumblebee on the official list of endangered species in the US.
Under President Barack Obama, plans were put in place to recognise the plight of the rusty-patched bumblebee (Bombus affinis) by giving it protection under the Endangered Species Act.
But, amid a slew of controversial policy announcements such as the attempt to ban immigration from seven mainly Muslim countries, Mr Trump’s administration also decided to delay the listing of the rare bee.
That prompted the Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC) to take legal action, arguing Trump officials had acted “illegally”.
The NRDC’s senior attorney, Rebecca Riley, told the Truthout website: “The science is clear – this species is headed toward extinction, and soon.
“There is no legitimate reason to delay federal protections.
“This bee is one of the most critically endangered species in the country and we can save it – but not if the White House stands in the way.”
The rusty-patched bumblebee has lost nearly 90 per cent of its range over the past 20 years.
Leda Huta, executive director of the Endangered Species Coalition, stressed its importance to the rural economy.
“[It is] not just a lovely little bee, it is a pollinator of wildflowers, fruits, and other crops,” she told Truthout.
“If the Trump administration can't make room for a bumblebee that directly benefits humans, we are very concerned about what that means both for the bee and for all endangered species.”
The US Fish and Wildlife Service issued a “notice of delay” just a day before the listing was due to come into force.
Animals in decline
Animals in decline
1/8 Harbour seal (Phoca vitulina)
Where: Orkney Islands. What: Between 2001-2006, numbers in Orkney declined by 40 per cent. Why: epidemics of the phocine distemper virus are thought to have caused major declines, but the killing of seals in the Moray Firth to protect salmon farms may have an impact.
2/8 African lion (Panthera leo)
Where: Ghana. What: In Ghana’s Mole National Park, lion numbers have declined by more than 90 per cent in 40 years. Why: local conflicts are thought to have contributed to the slaughter of lions and are a worrying example of the status of the animal in Western and Central Africa.
3/8 Leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)
Where: Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Costa Rica. What: Numbers are down in both the Atlantic and Pacific. It declined by 95 per cent between 1989-2002 in Costa Rica. Why: mainly due to them being caught as bycatch, but they’ve also been affected by local developments.
4/8 Wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans)
Where: South Atlantic. What: A rapid decline. One population, from Bird Island, South Georgia, declined by 50 per cent between 1972-2010, according to the British Antarctic Survey. Why: being caught in various commercial longline fisheries.
5/8 Saiga Antelope (Saiga tatarica)
Where: Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan. What: fall in populations has been dramatic. In the early 1990s numbers were over a million, but are now estimated to be around 50,000. Why: the break up of the former USSR led to uncontrolled hunting. Increased rural poverty means the species is hunted for its meat
6/8 Swordfish (Xiphias gladius)
Where: found worldwide in tropical, subtropical and temperate seas. Why: at risk from overfishing and as a target in recreational fishing. A significant number of swordfish are also caught by illegal driftnet fisheries in the Mediterranean
7/8 Argali Sheep (Ovis mammon)
Where: Central and Southern Asian mountains,usually at 3,000-5,000 metres altitude. Why: domesticated herds of sheep competing for grazing grounds. Over-hunting and poaching.
8/8 Humphead Wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus)
Where: the Indo-Pacific, from the Red Sea to South Africa and to the Tuamoto Islands (Polynesia), north to the Ryukyu Islands (south-west Japan), and south to New Caledonia. Why: Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing and trading of the species
The agency said the delay was only due to last until 21 March and was not expected to have an impact on the species.
It added it was working on “a recovery plan to guide efforts to bring this species back to a healthy and secure condition”.Reuse content