PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Federal wildlife officials have made a formal recommendation to list the rusty patched bumble bee as an endangered species.
The recommendation Thursday was made after the Portland, Oregon-based Xerces Society petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and presented studies showing the bee has disappeared from about 90 percent of its historic range in the past 20 years.
If approved after a 60-day comment period, the species would be the first bee listed as endangered in the continental United States.
The rusty patched bumble bee gets its name for a crescent-shaped, reddish patch on its abdomen.
It is an important pollinator for crops such as cranberries, blueberries and tomatoes.
Federal officials say the bee's decline is caused by a combination of factors, including pesticides, climate change, disease and habitat loss.