SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (AP) — The California Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed the state to consider protecting endangered bumblebees under the Fish Conservation Act.
The state’s high court declined to grant review of a May appeals court ruling that allowed the California Fish and Game Commission to consider granting endangered species protection to four bumblebee species under the 1970 Conservation Act, which contained the term “invertebrates.” . under definition of fish, San Francisco Chronicle reported.
A 1984 law that replaced the original act removed general invertebrate protections, but specifically retained protections for the Trinity bristle snail. Appellate authority ruling said the logic that allowed land molluscs to fall under the law should apply when it comes to bumblebees.
The ruling said the state legislature clearly meant that the law’s use of the definition of fish “as a term of art is not limited to aquatic species.”
The decision came as a result of an agricultural group challenging a 2019 decision by the state Fish and Game Commission to protect bees. During the review, the commission prohibited anyone from killing them or destroying their habitat.
The Supreme Court’s refusal to review the appeals court decision allows it to become binding precedent for trial courts across the state. It also clears one roadblock to bumblebees becoming the first insect species to be protected under California law.
“Insects, including bumblebees and other pollinators, are in decline around the world and need all the help we can get,” attorney Jenny Loda of the Center for Food Safety told the Chronicle on Wednesday.
In the village submission in denying review, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakawe wrote that the decision was likely to be misinterpreted.
“This case is not an endorsement of (nor a rejection of) the legal analysis made by the Court of Appeals,” Cantil-Sacaoue wrote.
“However, if experience is anything to go by, our decision not to order reconsideration will be misconstrued by some as a positive determination by this court that bumblebees are fish as a matter of law,” Cantil-Sacaoue wrote.
One of the species, Franklin’s bumblebee, was classified as endangered under federal law last year, and two others are being considered for federal protection.
The California Farm Bureau Federation and other groups challenged their potential listing under California law. Their attorney, Paul Weiland, said he was disappointed by the state Supreme Court’s decision.
“The California Department of Fish and Wildlife, which for years has held the public position that the insect should not be listed, is ill-equipped to handle the protection petitions of a wide range of insects that are moving toward it, and does not have the budget or expertise to do so.” , – said Weiland.