Center for Biological Diversity Sues Fish and Wildlife Service to Protect Bumblebee

On Thursday, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit in the District of Arizona against the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the United States Secretary of Interior alleging violation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

According to the complaint, the Center for Biological Diversity is a national nonprofit conservation organization that works to preserve, protect and restore biodiversity, native species, ecosystems, public lands and waters, and public health through science, policy and environmental law. The plaintiff states that it and its over 1.7 million members have deep and long-standing interests in the conservation and recovery of the imperiled species. 

The complaint states that the present action was filed to enforce the plaintiff’s conservation and recovery interest and to protect the imperlied Suckley’s cuckoo bumblebee. The plaintiff states that Suckley’s cuckoo bumblebee is a rare pollinator that has been observed across the western United States that currently faces a greater risk for extinction due to habitat loss, climate change, pesticides and other significant threats.  

The Center states that it submitted a petition to the Fish and Wildlife Service on April 23, 2020, to list Suckley’s cuckoo bumblebee as “threatened” or “endangered” under the ESA. The complaint states that this petition triggered three mandatory and non-discretionary deadlines for determination about the Suckley’s cuckoo bumblebee status under the ESA. These deadlines are the 90-day initial findings, the 12-month finding and the final listing determination. 

The plaintiff states that on May 11, 2021, the Fish and Wildlife Service issued a positive 90-day finding stating that the Center’s petition presented substantial information indicating that listing the Suckley’s cuckoo bumblebee under the ESA “may be warranted.” The complaint purports that, due to the positive 90-day finding, the defendants had a mandatory duty to issue their 12-month finding for Suckley’s cuckoo bumblebee by April 23, 2021. However, as of filing the complaint, the defendants have failed to issue a 12-month finding. 

The Center argues that until the defendants issue the required 12-month finding, Suckley’s cuckoo bumblebee will continue to face significant threats to survival and recovery. 

Accordingly, the plaintiff brings the present suit for declaratory and injunctive relief, seeking an Order declaring that the Fish and Wildlife Service is in violation of the ESA by failing to make the required 12-month finding on the Center’s petition in addition to reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.