An appeals court in Sacramento declared on Tuesday that bees are now legally deemed fish under California’s endangered species statute. As a result of the 1970 act, “fish” were classed as invertebrates, which were protected. This is because snails and other land-dwelling invertebrates have long been protected under the act, which has now been extended to include bees.
Bumble Bees can be designated as endangered and threatened species because they’re terrestrial invertebrates. “Accordingly,” stated Associate Justice Ronald Robie, a 3rd District Court of Appeals Associate Justice, “an endangered or threatened species can be listed under this Act.” In a nutshell, the court reinstated protections for bumblebees, which the California Fish and Game Commission had originally categorized as endangered in 2019.
A judge in the Sacramento County Superior Court sided with farmers in an appeal in 2020, citing the law’s original intent to preserve only marine invertebrates like fish.
In the most recent court battle, the commission and the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation were placed against agricultural interests in California, including almond, citrus, and cotton farmers, who oppose bees as an endangered species.
Bumblebees were formerly omitted from the list of “invertebrate species” because farming groups argued that the term “invertebrate” was only applicable to aquatic invertebrates. An official with the conservation group Xerces said that categorizing bumblebees as endangered is “extremely crucial” to the bees’ continued existence.
Because of this ruling, California can now use its endangered species act to preserve bumblebees and other fragile insect species, in addition to other terrestrial invertebrates. Life on Earth’s surface is dominated by invertebrates, which are all animals without a backbone. According to a news release from Xerces, about 80 percent of the world’s creatures are insects.
Humans rely heavily on bees for pollination, according to Jepsen. “Insects form the backbone of ecosystems.” According to her, “agricultural benefits greatly from the preservation of a wide range of native pollinator species in our ecosystems.” The Crotch, Franklin, Suckley cuckoo and the Western bumble bee are all “extremely endangered” bumblebee species.
Any activity that could lead to the extinction of bumblebees shall be protected under the act. As Jepsen explains it, “it will essentially prevent the intentional killing of certain bumblebee species’ hives. “Immense restrictions” in the Endangered Species Act of California, she explained, let farming continue.