Endangered species protection sought for threatened Northwest bumble bee

June 23,2010
by Jason Houk, Medford City Buzz Examiner

Franklin's bumble bee by Peter Schroeder.

Franklin's bumble bee by Peter Schroeder.

A conservation group wants to add a Northwest bumblebee to the endangered species list. Franklin’s bumblebee, once endemic to southern Oregon and northern California is now threatened with possible extinction.

The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and Dr. Robbin Thorp, entomologist with the University of California at Davis filed a petition on Wednesday with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requesting protection for Franklin’s bumble bee under the Endangered Species Act.

“It is vital that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Act quickly to protect this bumble bee,” said Sarina Jepsen, Endangered Species Program Director at The Xerces Society. “We hope that an Endangered Species Act listing will encourage the USDA-APHIS to protect wild bumble bees from future threats posed by nonnative, commercial bumble bees.”

In the U.S., bees are responsible for pollinating up to one-third of the food supply, worth $3 billion annually, yet they have been dying off in alarming numbers for almost two decades. According to a recent press release, a twelve year of survey conducted by Thorp clearly show that this species has declined steadily. The decline has been so severe that only a single Franklin’s bumble bee was observed in 2006 and none since.

“Over the last 12 years I have watched the populations of this bumble bee decline precipitously,” said Dr. Robbin Thorp, Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Davis. “My hope is this species can recover before it is too late.”

“The decline in Franklin’s bumble bee should serve as an alarm that we are starting to lose important pollinators,” said Scott Hoffman Black, Executive Director of The Xerces Society. “We hope that Franklin’s bumble bee will remind us to prevent pollinators across the U.S. from sliding toward extinction.”

Read article in the Medford City Buzz Examiner.