Bumblebees considered for endangered species protection

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Buff-tailed bumblebee, Bombus terrestris, isolated on white

DENVER (AP) — Two species of bumblebees found from Alaska to North Carolina and in Canada are under consideration for protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Tuesday it will study Western bumblebees and yellow-banded bumblebees to see if they warrant protection.

Defenders of Wildlife, which asked the service to consider protecting the bees, says they are important pollinators of both native plants and commercial crops. The group says the bees are under threat from pesticides and a parasite.

The group says the parasite is a fungus that spread from commercially raised bees brought into the United States from Europe to pollinate in greenhouses.

The environmental group says the bees are in decline on the coasts and in river valleys where commercial farming is widespread.