Protecting the American Burying Beetle

Have you heard of the American Burying Beetle (ABB)? We guarantee pipeline companies have. They know mitigation costs can run into the millions in prime ABB habitats. And it’s not just oil and gas companies who are bugged by this beetle. Last year, for example, the species halted the development of road construction, adding one year and one million dollars to the project.

Which is why our clients turn to us. At Apex, we hold the permit necessary to survey this federally-listed, endangered, nocturnal species. You may be wondering why it’s so important to protect them. The ABB serves a viable purpose by recycling animal carcasses (carrion) and returning those nutrients to the soil and, as an indicator species, it also serves as a litmus test to help gauge the overall health of an ecosystem. With only a one-year lifespan, the ABB are active in the summer months (mid-May through mid-September) and bury themselves in the soil for the duration of the winter. Currently, we’re in the middle of another busy ABB survey season.

We help our clients determine if their project adversely affects the ABB and its habitat. It’s an interesting and intensive process. As the ABB are dependent on carrion for food and reproduction, our permitted surveyors prepare bait (typically chicken) in advance, allowing it to spoil, and using it within above ground bucket traps to lure the ABB. After setting the traps, we conduct surveys for at least five nights, completing our work by 10 am as the ABB can die if they’re exposed to excessive heat. A single trap with a half-mile radius can survey approximately 500 acres. For linear projects, such as pipeline installations, traps are placed about a mile apart. To date, our longest linear project has been nearly 40 miles.

Negative surveys enable our clients to proceed with ground disturbance, while positive surveys can trigger consultation with the US Fish and Wildlife Services. And while some states, like Oklahoma for example, streamline the consultation and mitigation process, the ABB still must be handled carefully. At Apex, we can help.

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