Fish and Game Commission Adds Four Bumble Bees to Candidate List

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On June 12, 2019, the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) voted 3-1 that listing four subspecies of bumble bee may be warranted under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA).​  The decision was made after the Xerces Society, Center for Food Safety, and Defenders of Wildlife filed a petition to list the Crotch bumble bee (Bombus crotchii), Franklin’s bumble bee (Bombus franklini), Suckley cuckoo bumble bee (Bombus suckleyi), and western bumble bee (Bombus occidentalis occidentalis) as endangered species under CESA.

Western Bumble Bee

Presently, no insects are listed as threatened or endangered under CESA. Both the California Office of Administrative Law and the California Office of the Attorney General have previously taken the position that insects cannot be listed under CESA. CESA defines candidate, threatened, and endangered species as “native species or subspecies of a bird, mammal, fish, amphibian, reptile, or plant.”  The list does not include insects.  Counsel for the Commission indicated that because the California Fish and Game Code defines fish as “a wild fish, mollusk, crustacean, invertebrate, amphibian, or part, spawn, or ovum of any of those animals,” when the Legislature enacted CESA rather than include insects among the families of species that could be listed, it intended to incorporate bees, butterflies, beetles, and other insects via the definition of fish.

Nossaman is representing a statewide coalition of farming interests in the proceedings that opposed candidacy for the four bumble bee subspecies.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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