Endangered and Threatened Species at Fermilab

A species becomes federally-listed as protected after an extensive evaluation process determines that a threat exists that would affect its continued existence in the environment.

One federally-listed, endangered species is known to occur on the Fermilab site: the rusty-patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis). Volunteers monitor for this species and have found it as recently as 2014. Seed from the federally-threatened Eastern prairie fringed orchid (Platanthera leucophaea) was introduced to wet prairies on the Fermilab site in 2017 after a formal agreement was made between the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Department of Energy. Fermilab has many acres of suitable habitat and the inter-agency cooperation benefits the conservation of this species. Habitat also exists for the Northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis), though its presence is currently unknown. Site-wide surveys of all bat species began in 2017.

Some state-listed species (i.e., endangered or threatened in the state of Illinois) have been recorded at Fermilab for many years. Examples include American brooklime (Veronica americana), short-eared owl (Asio flammeus), least bittern (Ixobrychus exilis), and Blanding’s turtle (Emydoidea blandingii). At Fermilab, state-listed species are protected when possible to aid recovery efforts in Illinois. The Illinois endangered osprey (Pandion haliaetus) is a prime example, and the management strategy has been quite successful. Several nesting pairs regularly breed on the Fermilab site and over 25 young have fledged between 2009-2017. Working with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the eryngium stem borer moth (Papaipema eryngii) may be introduced in the future at Fermilab, given the ample amounts of host plants and habitat sizes.

Species that are no longer listed due to state-wide conservation efforts and are present at Fermilab include the savanna blazing star (Liatris scariosa var. nieuwlandii), white lady’s slipper orchid (Cypripedium candidum), Wood’s sedge (Carex woodii), Henslow’s sparrow (Ammodramus henslowii), and grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum).

State endangered osprey at Fermilab. Over 25 young have fledged from several nests between 2009 and 2017. Photo credit: M. Murphy

rusty-patched bumblebee

One federally-listed endangered species is known to occur on the Fermilab site: the rusty-patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis). Photo credit: T. Miesle

Short-eared owl

State-listed species, such as the short-eared owl (Asio flammeus), have been recorded at Fermilab for many years. Photo credit: T. Smith