U.S. Proposes Downlisting Endangered Beetle

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -
American burying beetle. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via AP/File)

U.S. wildlife officials say an endangered carnivorous beetle is making a comeback and should be downlisted to threatened.

Native to 35 states and three Canadian provinces, the beetle was listed as endangered in 1989 when it was found only in eastern Oklahoma and Block Island off the cost of Rhode Island. Thanks to conservation efforts, federal officials say there are now confirmed populations of the American burying beetle in nine states.

Amy Leuders, southwest regional director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, said on Wednesday that conservation efforts over the past 30 years have helped the beetle recover. Leuders says populations now can also be found in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, Texas, and on Nantucket Island off the coast of Massachusetts.

Biologists say the government’s decision to change the classification of an endangered scavenging beetle is not supported by scientific data. Noah Greenwald, endangered species director for the Center for Biological Diversity in Portland, Oregon, says scientific data indicates that the beetle is even more endangered now, but that President Donald Trump’s administration is severely reducing its habitat protections.

The large, nocturnal beetle eats decaying animals. It’s active only in the summer and lays its eggs beside small carcasses that it buries.