FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Kristina Baum – 202.224.6176
Donelle Harder – 202.224.1282
INHOFE PRAISES FISH & WILDLIFE FOR AMERICAN BURYING BEETLE STATUS REVIEW
WASHINGTON, DC -- U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, praised the announcement Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Director Dan Ashe made today that the agency will begin review this month of the status of the American Burying Beetle (ABB).
At an EPW Committee hearing on the FWS budget request for fiscal year 2016, Ashe estimated that the ABB's review would take anywhere from six to 18 months. Inhofe vowed to monitor and ensure the review is done in a timely manner. The ABB was listed in 1989 as "endangered" under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
"Despite its growing population, the American Burying Beetle remains listed as an endangered species. This has been a plague on the people of Oklahoma for far too many years. The beetle population has grown and expanded in our state over the decades, and in turn Oklahomans have faced additional cost and time to build roads, develop businesses, and plow fields in order to avoid the beetle's habitat. I welcome Director Ashe's announcement that the Fish and Wildlife Service intends to begin review this month of the beetle's status. I applaud their commitment, but words alone are not enough. I will be monitoring the review to ensure follow through, and I urge the agency to heavily weigh the beetle's abundant and expansive population beyond its original habitat when first listed."
In 1989, fewer than 12 beetles were believed to exist in Eastern Oklahoma and around 520 beetles were off the coast of Rhode Island. Today, FWS has identified an ABB population in the Midwest region that far exceeds the targets set in its 1991 Recovery Plan. In Nebraska, which is also in the Midwest region, there is estimated to be more than 3,000 ABB, making it among the largest known population, even though none were known to exist in the state prior to 1989. In Oklahoma, the ABB population is believed to be well into the thousands and exists in 45 of the 77 counties.
In 2008, FWS completed a status review on the ABB that recommended updating the beetle’s recovery plan. The recovery plan was never updated and FWS has not establish criteria for delisting the insect.
In the 113th Congress, Inhofe introduced the American Burying Beetle Relief Act of 2014 (S.2678) to remove ABB from the list of endangered species under ESA.