Center for Biological Diversity

Media Advisory, October 31, 2022


Roger Peet, artist, (503) 753-7027,

New Tulsa Mural Will Highlight Endangered American Burying Beetle

Celebration Slated for Nov. 5 as Mural Joins Dozens Across North America

TULSA, Okla.— The Center for Biological Diversity will host a community event in Tulsa on Saturday, Nov. 5, to celebrate a new mural of the American burying beetle, a vibrant endangered insect.

The painting will be the latest installment of the Center’s endangered species mural project, which highlights the imperiled plants and animals that make the places we live unique.

The project is spearheaded by artist Roger Peet, based in Portland, Oregon, who teams up with local artists and community groups to bring endangered species art to public spaces and increase appreciation for the regional biodiversity that makes places special. The project aims to celebrate local endangered species and encourage people to make connections between conservation and community strength.

“American burying beetles are just as stunning and ecologically important as eagles, so we’re excited to paint them larger than life,” said endangered species mural project coordinator Roger Peet. “Our goal with each mural is to connect people with all of the endangered wildlife that surround us, and this fascinating and charismatic beetle is in a class all of its own.”

The Center’s endangered species mural project has now installed dozens of murals across North America. These include Indiana bats in Cincinnati, Ohio, Arctic grayling fish in Butte, Montana, monarch butterflies in Minneapolis, and white fringeless orchids in Berea, Kentucky.

What: Endangered species community mural celebration with live music and refreshments.

When: Saturday, Nov. 5, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. during the Tulsa Farmer’s Market. Painting daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. beginning on Nov. 1; artists available for interviews.

Where: Flash Flood Print Studios, 2421 East Admiral Boulevard, Tulsa, OK 74110.

Who: The celebration will feature artist Roger Peet, who coordinates the Center’s mural project; Tulsa artist Kathleen Neeley; and Dr. Amy Smith, an expert on the American burying beetle.

Species Background

American burying beetles play a critical role in nutrient cycling and decomposition. They can smell a freshly dead animal from up to two miles away. Beetle mating pairs work together to strip the carcass of fur or feathers, cover it in body fluids, and bury it to feed their larvae. Adults also feed on fly eggs and larvae, helping to keep fly populations in check.

The striking red-orange and black beetles are endangered due to habitat loss, pesticides and climate change. Growing up to 1.5 inches in length, they’re the largest species in their genus in North America. Their historical range included 35 states in the eastern half of North America, but they are currently found in only eight states — Rhode Island, Massachusetts, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma.

Historically American burying beetles may have preferred passenger pigeons, whose flocks of billions once darkened the skies. The pigeons were exploited to extinction by 1914.

American burying beetle. Credit: Doug Backlund, SD Game, Fish & Parks. Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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