NRDC Sues Interior Department for Failure to Protect Rusty Patched Bumble Bee Endangered Pollinator Lacks Critical Habitat Necessary for its Survival

WASHINGTON — Today, the Natural Resources Defense Council filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, against the United States Department of the Interior for its failure to designate critical habitat for the endangered rusty patched bumble bee, in violation of the Endangered Species Act.

“It’s not too late to save the rusty patched bumble bee, but it is too late to sit idly as the bee’s habitat succumbs to continued destruction. This lawsuit should serve as a stinging reminder for the Trump Administration of what it needs to do to live up to the law,” said Lucas Rhoads, Staff Attorney for the Pollinator Initiative at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), a bureau of the Department of the Interior, is responsible for designating critical habitat that is vital to the recovery of the bee and other endangered species. NRDC was instrumental in listing the rusty patched bumble bee as an endangered species in January 2017, and in ongoing efforts to ensure its protection. However, USFWS failed to designate any critical habitat, leaving the bee’s remaining habitat more vulnerable to destruction. USFWS had an additional year to designate critical habitat for the bee after its listing, but the Service has now missed that extended deadline too.

The rusty patched bumble bee was once common throughout twenty-eight states in the midwestern and northeastern United States. Since the mid-1990s, however, the rusty patched bumble bee has disappeared from eighty-seven percent its range, and was recently listed as one of the top 10 species imperiled by the Trump administration. Threats to this bumble bee include habitat loss, pesticide use, climate change, and disease.


The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Chicago; Bozeman, Montana; and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC