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For immediate release

Media contacts:
Steve Armstead, Colorado Pollinator Conservation Specialist, Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation; 720-491-0845; [email protected]

Sarina Jepsen, Endangered Species Program Director, Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation; 971-244-3727; [email protected] 

 

DENVER, Colo.; April 26, 2024—Colorado’s legislature passed a bill Friday that gives Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), a division of the Department of Natural Resources, the authority to study and conserve pollinating insects, other invertebrates and rare plants. 

Colorado is currently one of nine states where insects, such as the monarch butterfly, western bumble bee, and other pollinators, are not defined as wildlife under state law, which means the state’s wildlife agency has no authority to study or protect them. 

House Bill 24-1117, which previously passed the Colorado House and now has been passed by the Colorado Senate, provides CPW the ability to study and take steps to conserve insects and other invertebrates, as well as rare plants. The bill also commits funding for staff positions to support invertebrate conservation efforts. 

Colorado is home to over 1,000 species of bees, nearly 300 species of butterflies, and many lesser known pollinators and invertebrates. These animals play a vital role in sustaining the state’s alpine wildflower meadows that support recreation and tourism and they underpin Colorado’s thriving agriculture.  

“The legislative passage of this bill and pending adoption into law with Governor Polis’ signature, will provide Colorado Parks and Wildlife the mandate and resources to conserve these amazing creatures,” said Scott Black, executive director of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. “We’re grateful that the Colorado legislature recognized the importance of including invertebrates and rare plants as species that Colorado Parks and Wildlife can work to conserve. CPW plays a vital role in conserving and managing the state’s most vulnerable animals and plants.”     

Giving CPW the authority to care for insects and rare plants was one of the key recommendations made by the Colorado Native Pollinating Insects Health Study. This landmark study was released by Governor Polis in January.

“The results of the study were alarming,” said Dr. Adrian Carper, an Entomology Curator Adjoint in the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History and Assistant Professor Adjunct at the University of Colorado, and one of the study’s lead authors. “More than 20 percent of Colorado’s bumble bee species are under consideration for federal Endangered Species Act protection and plants and insects make up over half of all the federally protected species in Colorado. The passage of this bill is the first step in ensuring the sustainability of the diversity of Colorado’s invertebrates and plants and all of our natural resources.”

“The passage of this bill, once signed by Governor Polis, will enable proactive conservation measures by Colorado Parks and Wildlife to help insect pollinators, other invertebrates, and rare plants” said Steve Armstead, a pollinator conservation specialist with the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, and one of three lead authors of the pollinator health study. “If we hope to stem declines in insect and native plant diversity and safeguard the services that invertebrates and plants provide, governments must take steps to manage and conserve them.”

Conservation actions by CPW can effectively protect and recover vulnerable wildlife populations, circumventing the need to list species under the US Endangered Species Act. With passage of HB 24-1117 into law, CPW will have non-regulatory management authority over insects, like monarchs and bees, and other types of invertebrates.

 

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About the Xerces Society 

The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation is a donor-supported nonprofit organization that protects our world through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitats. Xerces works throughout North America to conserve pollinators and other invertebrates, protect endangered species, and reduce pesticide use and impacts. Our staff use applied research, policy advocacy, public education and on-the-ground habitat improvement to advance meaningful, long-term conservation. Xerces is the largest invertebrate conservation organization in the world. For over 50 years, we have been champions of Earth’s most biodiverse and overlooked animals, protecting the life that sustains us. Learn more at xerces.org.

 

Colorado Native Pollinating Insects Health Study
In response to Senate Bill 22-199, the Colorado Department of Natural Resources commissioned a study on native pollinating insects. This collaborative study was conducted by Colorado State University Extension, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, and the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History, in consultation with state and federal agencies, researchers, scientists, and land managers across the state.