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Fish and Wildlife Proposes Downgrading American Burying Beetle Status From “Endangered” to “Threatened”

May 1, 2019

After years of studies, Congressional pressure, and on-the-ground experience with the American Burying Beetle, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed downgrading the beetle’s status from “Endangered” to “Threatened.” In addition to this move, Fish and Wildlife has proposed a rule that would tailor protections that are necessary for the beetle to recover under section 4(d) of the Endangered Species Act.

Once thought to cover much of the United States, the American Burying Beetle was only known by Fish and Wildlife in 1989 to exist in Oklahoma and Rhode Island. Now, the beetle is known to exist in nine states. The beetle, referred to by some as “nature’s undertaker,” bury an animal’s carcass, then lays eggs near the carcass so that their young can feed on it.

While the beetle will no longer meet the “endangered” standard, because it is no longer at risk of extinction, it will be listed as “threatened” if the proposal is approved to continue monitoring the status of the species.

This news is a significant development for agricultural industries, utilities, pipelines, and oil and gas producers. Under the endangered status, an oil and gas producer developing a well where the American Burying Beetle is known to exist can expect to spend up to 10 percent of the cost of the well on remediation measures.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has opened a comment period on the proposals, and Spencer Fane is prepared to assist you in the development of your comments, and wading through the process of complying with changes to the rule.

To learn more, see the official announcement and talk to one of our industry experts.

This post was drafted by A.J. Ferate, an attorney in the Oklahoma City, OK office of Spencer Fane LLP. For more information, visit