The Xerces Society and our conservation partners at Defenders of Wildlife and Center for Food Safety, represented by the Stanford Environmental Law Clinic, appealed a recent court decision that determined that the California Fish and Game Commission lacks authority to list four bumble bee species under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). The Fish and Game Commission also filed an appeal to challenge the court’s ruling.
Crotch’s bumble bee (Bombus crotchii) is one of the four species were are fighting for in California. (Photo: Xerces Society / Stephanie McKnight.)
This case follows a petition that Xerces and partners submitted in 2018 to protect the western, Crotch’s, Suckley cuckoo and Franklin’s bumble bees under CESA. These bumble bees are at risk of extinction in the state. When the Fish and Game Commission granted these four bumble bee species candidate status, several large agricultural groups in California sued and the Xerces Society intervened in the lawsuit to support the Commission. The language of the California Endangered Species Act clearly allows insects to be protected—but the bigger issue is that California cannot maintain its biodiversity without being able to protect three quarters of the species in the state. If this Superior Court ruling is upheld it will hurt both agriculture and the native ecosystems that make California unique.
Insects make up more than 75 percent of species on the planet and excluding them from protection under CESA will prevent California from sustaining its wildlife. In addition to providing pollination and pest control for important food crops, insects are vital for the functioning of California’s native ecosystems. They pollinate plants in wild areas, which in turn produce fruits and seeds eaten by birds, small mammals and other animals. Insects themselves are important food sources for many other animals—from fish to reptiles, amphibians to songbirds. Without protecting a diversity of native insects, we will not have healthy food to eat, songbirds in our yards, or fish in our streams.
Petition: List Four Bumble Bees as Endangered under the California Endangered Species Act (10/16/18)