Bees are fish, California court rules

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Bees are fish? Only in a California courtroom. An appeals court in California recently decided that some types of bees are now legally considered to be fish. Sort of. Though, environmental advocates and hailed the decision by the California Court of Appeals as “a win for the bumblebees.” Still, other people are scratching their heads.

Bee populations threatened

Many people believe that bee populations are falling dangerously. Bees pollinate many species of agricultural plants. A falling bee population alarms many environmental advocates. At the same time, farmers are concerned that treating bumblebees as endangered species might soon mean that farmers cannot use pesticides that may injure bees. Environmentalists point to nicotinamides as potential bee killer pesticides.

Bumblebee try to drink nectar from a flower

The Endangered Species Act

The California Fish and Game Commission worries that these pesticides might be killing bumblebees in California. So, the Game Commission tried to classify four different species of bumble bee as endangered species. Farmers objected because it will make farming more expensive and because the falling bee population is largely a popular myth.

The first trial court decided that California law did not allow the state to include bumblebees. The state’s Endangered Species Act protects only “birds, mammals, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and plants.” However, California does not cover bees or other insects.

How can bees be fish?

However, the California appeals court reversed a lower court’s decision. The judge looked beyond what the Endangered Species Act said. Instead, the judge argued that because fish covered some invertebrates and bees are invertebrates, that bees are like fish. So, the Endangered Species Act could protect them.

While the judge did not say that bees and fish are the same, he said bees and fish are close enough. After all, the judge is a lawyer, not a biologist.

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