A bumble bee once common in the United States is disappearing so quickly it should be listed as an endangered species, environmentalists said in a lawsuit filed against U.S. government agencies on Tuesday. The rusty patched bumble bee is now found in fewer and fewer areas as urbanization and agriculture reshape their traditional habitat on the Midwestern prairies, said the suit, which was filed in U.S. district court in Washington, D.C., against the Interior Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "The leading hypothesis suggests that disease may be playing a role," said Sarina Jepsen, a program director at the Oregon-based Xerces Society, which brought the lawsuit along with the Natural Resources Defense Council. Bumble bees pollinate a wide variety of plants and crops and are used commercially by farmers to help grow tomatoes in greenhouses.
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