Bumblebees can be classified as ‘fish’ under California conservation law, court says
State-by-state, there really isn’t a ‘Bumblebee Legal Code’ to cite, because there are many different levels of protection depending on who you ask. But with the recent ruling by the California Fish and Game Commission that bumblebees are ‘fish’ under the California Constitution, the end result is that they can be hunted in California now.
The F&G Commission ruled 3-2 that the state must allow the general public to shoot bumblebees to control population declines stemming from habitat loss, pesticide use and other threats. The order also grants an outright ban on bee-spraying at the request of the commission.
The commission ruled that the general public has a clear right to kill bumblebees for the purpose of reducing the number of bees that land on crops in California. The ruling is on appeal, and there will be a hearing on Wednesday regarding the commission’s request for an outright ban on bee-spraying.
Bumblebees are honeybees that have evolved from bees that moved to the New World, and they are now an invasive species in several countries due to various factors, ranging from habitat loss to climate change and pesticide use.
California has set aside $2.7 million to begin what is expected to be a five-year bee research project that will focus on how and when the bee population changes in coming years to address concerns about bumblebee habitat loss and pesticide use.
The study will determine whether habitat loss, pesticide use and climate change have affected the species overall.
“This study is an important step toward protecting the health of the honeybee population and ensuring its future,” said Jennifer O’Connell, manager of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s San Francisco District Office. “This research will help us keep the honeybee population healthy, even under the most challenging conditions.”
The new ruling was a result of a 2013 petition by the Center for Food Safety, a nonprofit that fights the commercial use of pesticides. The petition was prompted by reports of bumblebees dying in corn fields in Southern California.
The Center for Food Safety petitioned the California Fish and Game Commission, asking the commission to define bumblebees as a threatened species in the state, and to prohibit the sport of shooting bumblebees to control population declines stemming from habitat loss, pesticide use and other threats.
The petition asked