Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
This insect is vulnerable to extinction primarily because of a drastic reduction in range. Historically, the species' range covered 35 States and 3 Canadian Provinces. Currently, however, populations are known to occur in only three or perhaps four States.
A protocol has been developed for monitoring the American burying beetle population on Block Island, where a stable population of about 300 to 500 individuals are located. A favorable working relationship has been established between landowners (i.e., Rhode Island Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy, and private residents) and State and Federal agencies involved in recovery efforts for the species. In 1992, a small number of beetles were found to occur in undeveloped habitat at the Block Island airport. Since the airport is subject to Federal Aviation Administration oversight, the Fish and Wildlife Service will consult with this agency in efforts to protect its habitat. One formal section 7 consultation occurred with the U.S. Marshal Service regarding the seizure and proposed disposition of beetle habitat on Block Island. The no-jeopardy opinion included measures to minimize the incidental take of beetles.
The greatest recovery achievement for this species in the past 2 years has been the greatly expanded survey efforts in the Midwest, and the resulting discovery of beetles in eastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas. A few specimens have also been observed in northcentral Nebraska. With these populations, the species appears to be more secure than at the time of listing.
Necessary recovery actions include reestablishment of populations within the beetle's former range, conducting surveys for additional populations, monitoring and protecting any newly discovered populations, identifying potential reintroduction sites, and completing genetic studies. Since the population on Block Island is one of only two known locations for the species east of the Mississippi River, annual monitoring of that population is essential. In addition, captive populations derived of these animals should be maintained for use in additional reintroduction efforts.
The Rhode Island Division of Fish and Wildlife received $3,000 in FY 1991 and $4,000 in FY 1992 to monitor the Block Island population, conduct surveys at other sites, complete the recovery plan, and consult with others across the historic range of the species regarding recovery recommendations outlined in the recovery plan.
Rhode Island Division of Fish and Wildlife: Division personnel have been diligent in their efforts for this species, even donating personal time to conduct surveys. They also serve as an information source for others interested in surveying for or restoring beetle populations.
Boston University: The University is conducting a genetic analysis of Rhode Island beetles and prepared a captive breeding protocol for the species.
Plan approved 9/27/91.