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

Case Status


Last Update


© 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 went 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.

Related Issues
Nature & Wildlife

Related Content