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For Immediate Release


Rebecca Spector, West Coast Director,

Jenny Loda, Staff Attorney,

Press Release

California Court Secures Legal Protections for Imperiled Bumble Bees

First-ever listing of insects under the California Endangered Species Act.

In a victory for imperiled bumble bees and environmentalists, today the California's Third District Court of Appeal sided with Center for Food Safety (CFS) and allies, ruling that the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) protects all invertebrates, including bumble bees and other insects.

Statement from Rebecca Spector, West Coast Director, Center for Food Safety

“With one out of every three bites of food we eat coming from a crop pollinated by bees, this court decision is critical to protecting our food supply. The decision clarifies that insects such as bees qualify for protections under CESA, which are necessary to ensure that populations of endangered species can survive and thrive.”

Statement from Jenny Loda, Staff Attorney, Center for Food Safety

“This is an important decision that makes clear that all invertebrates can be protected under the species-saving protections of CESA. And it affirms the role of the Fish and Game Commission in protecting imperiled insects like the four bumble bees at issue in this case. The western bumble bee, Franklin's bumble bee, Crotch's bumble bee, and the Suckley cuckoo bumble bee are the first insect species to gain protections under CESA.”


In 2018, Center for Food Safety, Defenders of Wildlife, and Xerces Society petitioned the California Fish and Game Commission to list four species of native bumble bees—western bumble bee, Franklin's bumble bee, Crotch's bumble bee, and the Suckley cuckoo bumble bee—as Endangered under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). As a result of the groups' petition, the Commission voted to begin the listing process in 2019, but was sued by California agricultural groups shortly after its decision. CFS, Defenders of Wildlife, and Xerces Society intervened in the lawsuit (Almond Alliance v. California Fish and Game Commission) in January 2020.

In February 2021, the groups, represented by Stanford Environmental Law Clinic, appealed a November 2020 decision by the Sacramento County Superior Court that determined that the California Fish and Game Commission lacks authority to list four threatened bumble bee species as candidate species under CESA. The Commission also filed an appeal to challenge the court's ruling.

In today’s ruling, California’s Third Appellate District reversed the judgment of the trial court, holding that the California Fish and Game Commission has the authority to protect any invertebrate as endangered or threatened under CESA.


Center for Food Safety's mission is to empower people, support farmers, and protect the earth from the harmful impacts of industrial agriculture. Through groundbreaking legal, scientific, and grassroots action, we protect and promote your right to safe food and the environment. CFS's successful legal cases collectively represent a landmark body of case law on food and agricultural issues.

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