On January 11, 2017, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a final rule listing the rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The rusty patched bumble bee’s historic range encompassed areas of 28 states and the District of Columbia (Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin).  Since 2000, the species has been reported in only 12 states (Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin) and is now believed to occur in only eight percent of its historic range.  Service-identified stressors to the rusty patched bumble bee include pathogens, pesticides and herbicides (including neonicotinoids), habitat loss and degradation, small population dynamics, and climate change.

The effective date of the final rule was pushed back from February 10, 2017 to March 21, 2017 as a result of the January 20, 2017 White House Memorandum that delayed the effective dates of final rules that had not yet taken effect by 60 days from the date of the memorandum “in order to ensure that the President’s appointees or designees have the opportunity to review any new or pending regulations.”

As a result of the administration’s subsequent silence on this rule, the rule went into effect on March 21, 2017, adding the rusty patched bumble bee to the list of endangered species.  This species is the first ESA-listed pollinator in the continental U.S., and its listing under the ESA is anticipated to impact a number of industries.