Last week, the California Department of Fish and Game heard a petition from the Xerces Society and the Defenders of Wildlife to list four bumblebee species for protection under the California Endangered Species Act. After some consideration, the Commission voted 3 to 1 to make all four bumblebee species as candidates for listing. With candidate status, the bumblebees will receive full protection under the California Endangered Species Act until final evaluation and decision by the Commission. It is expected that the process will take 12 months.
According to the text of the California Endangered Species Act, insects are not specifically eligible for protection. The petitioners argue that the fish definition includes invertebrates, for which bumblebees and other insects are. The argument doesn’t pass the commonsense test, but a similar petition was granted in 1980. Ultimately, that petition was rejected by the Office of Administrative Law.
California Citrus Mutual is part of a broader agricultural coalition that has hired an endangered species act expert attorney to challenge the process and is currently evaluating options to prevent the bumblebee candidate listing from having any impacts on citrus operations.