NRDC v. U.S. Department of the Interior et al. (Rusty Patched Bumblebee)

© Clay Bolt/

In one of NRDC’s first major victories against the Trump administration, this lawsuit forced the White House to end its illegal freeze of endangered species protections for the rusty patched bumblebee.

Once one of the most common bumblebees in the country, the rusty patched bumblebee has endured a population decline of about 90 percent in the past two decades. In 2014, NRDC went to court to push the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list this pollinator as an endangered species, and on January 11, 2017, the agency agreed to do so, announcing its decision in a final listing rule.

But one day before the listing was set to take effect, the Trump administration froze the rule, depriving the bee of the protections it needs to survive. We raced to court, filing a lawsuit just days later, and on March 21, 2017, the administration backed down, allowing the bee to become the first bumblebee ever listed as an endangered species.

This victory is a win for bees everywhere, including the 4,000 species of bees native to the United States. These species are essential to our food security and the health of our ecosystems, but many are facing similar threats to their existence. The protections the rusty patched bumblebee now enjoys will help those bees, too, chipping away at the larger bee crisis before it’s too late.

UPDATE! On January 15, 2019, NRDC want to court again to defend the future of the rusty patched bumblebee as the Interior Department continues to delay designation of critical habitat—a vital and legally required protection for species on the Endangered Species list. Follow developments here.

Last Updated

February 13, 2018



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Trump Administration Lifts Freeze on Endangered Bumble Bee

Allows Federal Protections to Take Effect

March 21, 2017

NRDC Sues Trump Administration for Suspending Protections for Endangered Bumble Bee

CHICAGO – The Natural Resources Defense Council today sued the Trump Administration for illegally suspending the rule to put the rusty patched bumble bee on the endangered species list. The rusty patched bumble bee has lost approximately 90 percent of its range in the past 20 years. It is the first bumble bee ever listed under the Endangered Species Act.

February 14, 2017

Rusty Patched Bumble Bee May Not Survive Trump Executive Order

CHICAGO – In a last-minute reversal of fortune that could push the rusty patched bumble bee beyond the brink, federal protections for the first bumble bee to be listed as an endangered species were frozen due to a Trump administration order, just one day before the listing was to take effect.

February 09, 2017