Just Because It's Trending Doesn't Mean It's True
Hoax Alert

Fake News: First Bee Has NOT *Just* Been Added to Endangered Species List

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Tue, 22 May 2018 15:13:13 Z)

Has the first bee just been added to the endangered species list? If you consider 2016 to be "just" you would be correct. But a story that claims the rusty patched bumble bee is being the first one to be put on that list is not entirely correct in the headline. That same story first appeared in March 2017 on another website so the "just" in the headline is no longer true either.

The story went viral again through an article published in May, 2018 on a site named Bimber (or Mind Foster) under the headline "It's Official -- First Bee Has Just Been Added to Endangered Species List" (archived here) which opened:

It's official. As tragically revealing as the move might be, the rusty patched bumble bee has now joined the grizzly bear, gray wolf, northern spotted owl, and some 700 others on the endangered species list -- the first bee ever to garner those protections in the continental United States.

Once abundant in the grasslands and prairies in 31 states in the East and Midwest, the rusty patched bumble bee's population has been decimated by as much as 95 percent by some estimates, and now exists only in isolated pockets in 12 states and the province of Ontario, Canada.

"There are a few little spots where we know they are," James Strange, a research entomologist and bumble bee ecologist with the USDA, told Forbes.

Screenshot of https://mindfoster.co/1251/bees/

The same story already appeared in March 2017:

It's Official - First Bee Has Just Been Added to Endangered Species List

It's official. As tragically revealing as the move might be, the rusty patched bumble bee has now joined the grizzly bear, gray wolf, northern spotted owl, and some 700 others on the endangered species list - the first bee to garner those protections in the continental United States.

Note that the full news reports say it was the first bee in the continental United States to be added to the list:

First U.S. bumble bee added to endangered species list

(Reuters) - The rusty patched bumble bee became the first wild bee in the continental United States to gain federal protection on Tuesday when it was added to the government's list of endangered and threatened species. The bee, once widely found in the upper Midwest and Northeastern United States, was listed after U.S.

The actual ruling putting the bees on the list was from January 11, 2017, almost a year-and-a-half ago. So not really "just" anymore.

Bees were already on the endangered species list since 2016, just not in the continental United States:

Bees added to US endangered species list for the first time

Seven types of bees once found in abundance in Hawaii have become the first bees to be added to the US federal list of endangered and threatened species. The listing decision, published on Friday in the Federal Register, classifies seven varieties of yellow-faced or masked bees as endangered, due to such factors as habitat loss, wildfires and the invasion of non-native plants and insects.

There appears to be a growing trend of alarming articles from real news sources being reposted by a different site a year or more later while presenting it as recent news. Take for example this article about the Standing Rock reservation pipeline that got re-used almost a year later. We suspect this new trend among fake news site operators is emerging because technically these old stories can't be declared "false" by fact checkers but they still have enough of a viral "oomph" to goad readers into sharing them uncritically.

We are rating this story mostly false anyway, for two reasons:

  • The "Just" in the headline
  • Not mentioning the continental United States in the headline

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About the author:

Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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