Court Rules State of California Lacks Authority to Protect Imperiled Bumble Bee Species Under the California Endangered Species Act
(November 20, 2020; Sacramento, Calif.) This week, in a blow to imperiled bee and insect populations, the Sacramento County Superior Court issued a ruling in Almond Alliance v. California Fish and Game Commission (the Commission), deeming the State of California lacks authority to list four threatened bumble bee species as Endangered under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA).
In 2018, Center for Food Safety, Defenders of Wildlife, and Xerces Society petitioned the Commission to list four species of native bumble bees—western bumble bee, Franklin's bumble bee, Crotch's bumble bee, and the Suckley cuckoo bumble bee—as Endangered under CESA. As a result of the groups' petition, the Commission voted to begin the listing process in 2019, but was sued by California's agricultural industry shortly after its decision.
The industry argued that terrestrial invertebrates, such as the four bumble bee species, are not protected by CESA. Center for Food Safety, Defenders of Wildlife, and Xerces Society intervened in the lawsuit in January 2020 to help defend the Commission's decision to extend critical protection to the four bumble bee species.
In response to the Court's ruling, the petitioners issued the following joint statement:
"We are deeply disappointed by the Court's decision. In ruling that CESA does not protect terrestrial invertebrates, the Court not only removed protection from the four sensitive bumble bee species, but took away future prospects for much needed protection from the State's many imperiled insects that play critical roles in our agriculture and overall ecology. We hope the State will appeal. We are considering all options in response to the Court's decision, including pursuit of legislation to make it clear that CESA protects these critical species."