Bumblebees can be classified as ‘fish’ under California conservation law, court says
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the U.S. District Court of Northern District of California, San Francisco, rejected an attempt by the Humane Society to enjoin the City’s planned release of 50,000 bumblebee colonies. On Friday, May 29, 2018, the court ruled, in ruling on a motion to intervene, that the Humane Society failed to prove that San Francisco officials acted improperly when they started taking colonies from the wild and releasing them into the Bee Friendly Zone.
The court noted that the Humane Society failed to establish that the City’s taking of wild bumblebees was harmful to bumblebees in the wild. The court also found that there is no proof that San Francisco bumblebee managers do not regularly use the bees “for science, management and conservation.”
San Francisco is currently home to approximately 3,000 wild bumblebee colonies. City beekeepers have been managing these wild bees to help boost the numbers of native species of pollinators to benefit the entire environment. The city is also working toward increasing the diversity of pollinators in the environment by releasing honeybees that can pollinate non-native plant species.
The Humane Society had argued that the city has not complied with their own policies on wild bees. The city has, however, provided information on its website stating that the city follows the City’s Bee Policy. The city does, however, do not have regulations governing the release of wild bees and the policy is designed to address problems of inattentiveness and apathy among city employees.
The Humane Society also argued that the city should be providing more information on the health and genetic attributes of the bees it has been taking from the wild. The city, in its response, said the Humane Society had provided information on the genetic attributes of the bees, but not on the health or genetic attributes of the bees.
In a statement, the city pointed out that “the Humane Society’s complaint and motion was limited to a very narrow question: whether San Francisco bumblebee managers complied with the City’s policies on the humane treatment of bees for research and conservation purposes.
“The court did not address the broader question of whether City employees who are not beekeepers, nor City management should be permitted to take a significant percentage of bees from the wild,