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Calif. Extends Endangered Species Law to Bees Who Identify as Fish

(Pamela Cosel, Headline USA)  Teaching about the “birds and the bees” is going to get a lot more interesting after California this week passed a new environmental law that classifies bees — wait for it — as fish. Sort of.

But can a bee swim? Can a bee be caught on a fishing line? Or the reverse: can a fish pollinate a flower?

The Third Appellate District in Sacramento seems to think so. The court made public its ruling on Tuesday in a case filed by plaintiff Almond Alliance of California against the Fish and Game Commission. Tuesday’s ruling was a reversal of a judgment made in 2020 by the Superior Court of Sacramento County in support of almond growers who believed California does not have authority to designate any type of insects as endangered or threatened, as reported by Law & Crime.

In question is whether four bumble bee species should be considered for inclusion on the endangered species list. The issue is whether or not “the bumble bee, a terrestrial invertebrate, falls within the definition of fish” under the noted specific sections of The California Endangered Species Act, originally enacted in 1970, then repealed and replaced in 1984, updated in 1997.

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According to the Act, “the federal agencies responsible for listing are the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service.” The April 2022 list includes gastropods (snails, slugs and abalone) crustaceans (shrimp), insects (grasshoppers, katydids, crickets, beetles, butterflies, moths), fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.

In 1980, a voice of reason came forward when the Commission received a letter from Gene Livingston, director of the Office of Administrative Law, stating “that insects are not fish.”

At issue and under discussion in the lawsuit was how the court and Fish and Game defined invertebrates. Was it just limited to aquatic species? Or did the definition include terrestrial invertebrates, now focused on the four bumble bee species (pg. 27-28)?

Point being, as a result of Tuesday’s ruling, explained in a 35-page document, bees are now included because they are indeed “invertebrates,” as defined by the Fish and Game Code.

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The court upheld that FGC does indeed have authority to list any invertebrate (eg., bees) as an endangered or threatened species.

And that (as they used to say) is the bees’ knees.

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