By Grace Jacobson / News Director
A federal judge approved an agreement between conservation groups and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Thursday that puts the agency on a prompt schedule to consider and designate critical habitat for highly endangered rusty patched bumblebees.
The bee became an endangered species in 2017, in part due to the loss of 99% of its native grasslands in the Northeast and upper Midwest.
In Minn., people can typically find the rusty patched bumblebee in grasslands and prairies in and around the Twin Cities metro.
Thursday’s agreement comes after the court struck down the Service’s original determination in 2020 that such a designation was “not prudent.” The agreement requires the agency to revisit its determination by Nov. 20, 2024 and if the Service proposes to designate critical habitat for the bee, requires it to finalize that determination by Oct. 31, 2025.
A study by the Center for Biological Diversity found that plants and animals with federally protected critical habitat are more than twice as likely to be moving toward recovery than species without it.