On March 21, 2017, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rejected a request by housing developers, pesticide makers, farmers, utilities, and oil and natural gas companies to delay protections for the rusty patched bumble bee. A final rule protecting the species as endangered was published on January 11, 2017, and industry associations requested additional time to ensure compliance with the Endangered Species Act’s prohibition on incidental takes of listed species. Specifically, industry groups expressed concern that incidental takes might occur through the inadvertent destruction of underground nests during construction or through the general use of herbicides or insecticides.
While protections for the rusty patched bumble bee are national in scope, the current range of the species suggests that operators in the Utica and western Marcellus – particularly in Ohio – should be particularly alert for the presence of the bee during development. USFWS has published a map with current occurrences of the species and guidance on the issuance of incidental take permits.