The rusty patched bumble bee won't become a member of the endangered species list until at least March 2017. Photo by Dan Mullen/USFWS
Feb. 10 (UPI) -- In a move announced Thursday in the Federal Registrar, President Donald Trump and his administration have delayed the inclusion of the rusty patched bumble bee on the endangered species list.
Last month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the bumble bee species would become the first in the continental United States to be listed as endangered. The rule change was to become official on Friday.
The move is in keeping the executive order signed by President Donal Trump in January, delaying for 60 days all federal regulations passed under former President Barack Obama that have yet to take effect.
The White House said the delay will allow officials to review "questions of fact, law, and policy" related to the pending regulations.
Freezes on pending regulations by new administrations aren't uncommon, but often rules are allowed to go through without delay.
The rusty patched bumble bee is native to the East and Upper Midwest, but its numbers have declined precipitously over the last 20 years. The bee's historical range is 10 percent of what it was -- 90 percent gone in just two decades.
The decision to list the species as endangered came in response to a petition filed by a pair of environmental advocacy groups, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Xerces Society, a group devoted to invertebrate conservation.
"Delays to protecting this already vulnerable pollinator may prove catastrophic," the Xerces Society said in a statement.
The Fish and Wildlife Service said they are operating as if the rule change will become official at the end of the delay.
"The change in the effective date from February 10 to March 21, 2017, is not expected to have an impact on the conservation of the species," Gary Frazer, the agency's assistant director of ecological services, said in a statement. "FWS is developing a recovery plan to guide efforts to bring this species back to a healthy and secure condition."