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Preserving Pollination: How We Can Establish Standing to Protect Our Pollinators and Why We Need To

Preserving Pollination: How We Can Establish Standing to Protect Our Pollinators and Why We Need To

Danielle Bradtmiller

In 2006, the “Beepocalypse” hit Hanyuan county of China’s Sichuan province, threatening the production of the area’s primary economic resource, pears.[1]  The use of pesticides had decimated the area’s native bee population.[2]  To keep their trees producing pears, the farmers turned to a new pollinator—humans.[3]This event is the worst case scenario for an area dependent on pollinators.[4]  Yet, the spotlight seemed to shift directly to the managed honey bees, Apis mellifera, and their demise.[5]The honey bee arrived in the United States in the 1600s.[6]  However, many other pollinators lived—and still live—in the United States.[7] Wild bees,[8]butterflies,[9]birds,[10]bats,[11]moths,[12]flies,[13]beetles,[14]wasps,[15] and ants[16]represent pollinators native to the United States[17]—versus non-native, and potentially invasive, pollinators.

In response to the bee crisis, initiatives have emerged to discover the problem and how to fix it. While the problems facing the honey bees deserve attention and dedication to finding a solution—scientists indicate that helping the native wild pollinators may be more vital.[18]  Honey bees have their beekeepers that can represent them against “unreasonable adverse effects on the environment”—such as pesticide exposure.[19]Beekeepers can work with local farmers to attempt to alleviate some of the impacts of pesticides on neighboring colonies, but other pollinators are without an advocate. This requires that someone be able to advocate on behalf of native wild pollinators to redress an “unreasonable adverse effect on the environment” of native wild pollinators.[20]

This Note will discuss the potential ways to for individuals and groups to better advocate for the native wild pollinators. Part I will discuss the act of pollination, the native wild pollinators, and the threats facing the pollinators. Part II will focus on ways to establish standing on behalf of native pollinators and possible ways to navigate hurdles that arise with establishing standing for animals.  Part III will discuss potential avenues to use this standing to advocate for native pollinators.  This will involve elaborating on and revising prior and current Pollinator Action Plans and Federal Statutes, like FIFRA and NEPA, to help create a better vehicle for standing for native wild pollinators. The native-wild pollinators need our help so that they may help us live and thrive.

[1]Gina Darnaud, Will Human Workers Replace Pollinating Bees?,Global Citizen (Apr. 19, 2016), https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/life-without-bees-hand-human-pollination-rural-chi/.

[2]Id.

[3]Id.

[4]Nature: Silence of the Bees (PBS Mar. 13, 2011).

[5]Troy Farah, While We Worry About Honeybees, Other Pollinators Are Disappearing, Discovery Mag. (Aug, 3, 2018), http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/crux/2018/08/03/honeybees-pollinator-really-going-extinct/#.W8yjhWhKhnI; see Pollinator Protection: Pollinator Health Concerns, EPA, https://www.epa.gov/pollinator-protection/pollinator-health-concerns#factors (last visited Nov. 6, 2018) (discussing issues of only honey bees under the pollinator protection page).

[6]But see, Kathy Keatly Garvey, First Native American Honey Bee, Unv. of Cal.: Bug Squad (Jul, 28, 2009), https://www.ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=1544 (discussing the recent discovery of a 14-million-year-old fossil that shows a species related to the modern honey bee was native to the United States but that species does not exist today).

[7]See infra notes 8–17 (listing various pollinators in the United States).

[8]Bee Pollination, U.S. Forest Serv., https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/animals/bees.shtml (last visited Nov. 6, 2018) (listing the 4,000 native bee species of the United States). 

[9]Butterfly Pollination, U.S. Forest Serv.,  https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/animals/butterflies.shtml (last visited Nov. 6, 2018) (listing the Fritillary butterflies, Swallowtail butterflies, Painted Lady butterfly, and Pine White Butterfly as pollinators of the United States). 

[10]Bird Pollination, U.S. Forest Serv., https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/animals/birds.shtml (last visited Nov. 6, 2018) (stating hummingbirds, such as the ruby-throated hummingbird, are “key in wildflower pollination”). 

[11]Bat Pollination, U.S. Forest Serv., https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/animals/bats.shtml (last visited Nov. 6, 2018) (listing the lesser long-nosed bat and the Mexican long-tongued bat as the two bat pollinators of the United States). 

[12]Moth Pollination, U.S. Forest Serv., https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/animals/moths.shtml (last visited Nov. 6, 2018) (describing moth pollinators such as the clearwing and hummingbird hawk moths).

[13]Fly Pollination, U.S. Forest Serv., https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/animals/flies.shtml (last visited Nov. 6, 2018) (describing the tachinid fly and syrphid fly as pollinators).

[14]Beetle Pollination, U.S. Forest Serv., https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/animals/beetles.shtml (last visited Nov. 6, 2018) (describing beetles as some of the first pollinating insects).

[15]Wasp Pollination, U.S. Forest Serv., https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/animals/wasps.shtml (last visited Nov. 6, 2018) (listing the paper wasp, yellow jacket, and sphecidae wasps as pollinators).

[16]Ant Pollination, U.S. Forest Serv., https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/animals/ants.shtml (last visited Nov. 6, 2018) (describing how ants pollinate the North American plants like Small’s stonecrop, alpine nailwort, and Cascade knotweed).

[17]Pollination, U.S. Forest Serv., https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/ (last visited Nov. 6, 2018).

[18]See Troy Farah, supra note 5 (discussing how efforts to help honey bees often overlook the conditions of the struggling native pollinators); see Helen Briggs, Commercial Bees Threaten Wild Bees, Says Researchers, BBC News (Jan. 19, 2015), https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-30831257 (discussing the impacts of commercial honey bees on the wild populations).

[19]Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, 7 U.S.C. § 136(a) (2012); Pollinator Stewardship Council v. EPA, 806 F.3d 520, 522 (9th Cir. 2015).

[20]7 U.S.C. § 136 (a).

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