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American Burying Beetle Survey Season is Upon Us

Monday, May 22, 2017

Buck Ray, Environmental

The American Burying Beetle (Nicrophorus americanus, ABB) is a federally listed endangered species found in several states (see map below). Managing impacts of ABB on proposed and active development projects takes careful planning, and execution, as well as knowledgeable personnel. In general, there are two windows of opportunity to survey for the beetle each year. Knowing when these opportunities are, keeps projects on schedule. This year, the warming weather conditions have signaled an earlier start to the early survey season for the ABB.


Olsson Associates has extensive experience guiding project owners through the complex development and implementation of  project-specific surveys, avoidance and minimization measures, and compliance plans throughout the range of the ABB (below). In particular, Olsson’s Oklahoma City biologist, Buck Ray, is experienced and permitted to handle this endangered species. Buck leads Olsson's team of experienced staff to assist project owners on minimizing project delays.

Olsson employs a three-tiered approach to ABB services. In the first tier, Olsson staff assist project owners in identifying potential occurrences of ABB with habitat mapping and initial coordination with state and federal agencies.

If potentially suitable habitat is identified within a project footprint, the second tier includes presence-absence surveys. Olsson staff hold a Section 10 Enhancement of Survival permit for ABB through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). This permit allows presence-absence surveys within proposed developments to be completed by Olsson staff quickly and cost-effectively.

The survey season for ABB is based upon the active period of the species (table below). Because the survey period varies within the ABB range and is based on weather conditions, project owners should work with experienced firms with permitted ABB biologists, such as Olsson, to understand the impacts survey periods may have on their project timelines.

During the final tier, Olsson works closely with project owners to identify the best path forward depending on the results of ABB surveys. If there is a positive ABB finding, Olsson's experienced personnel identify the most appropriate pathway for the project that is cost-effective and reduces development delays.

Buck was recognized in March by peers at the American Wind Energy Association Siting and Environmental Compliance Committee Conference with the People's Choice for Best Poster, which was titled "Managing impacts of the American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus) on wind energy industry projects”. He’d be happy to talk to you more about ABB or other biological survey needs you might have.

For more information about the ABB and survey seasons, contact Buck Ray at 405.242.6606 or at bray@olssonassociates.com.

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