Almond Alliance of Cal. v. Fish and Game Com.Annotate this Case
In October 2018, several public interest groups petitioned the California Fish and Game Commission to list four species of bumble bee as endangered species: the Crotch bumble bee, the Franklin bumble bee, the Suckley cuckoo bumble bee, and the Western bumble bee. In September 2019, petitioners challenged the Commission’s decision by filing a petition for writ of administrative mandate, asserting that the Commission’s determination that the four bumble bee species qualified for listing as candidate species under the California Endangered Species Act “violated the Commission’s legal duty, was a clear legal error, and was an abuse of discretion.” The trial court granted the writ petition. Because the Court of Appeal’s task in this appeal was to “review the Commission’s decision [designating the four bumble bee species in question as candidate species under the Act], rather than the trial court’s decision [granting the writ petition],” the Court focused on the trial court’s conclusion “the word ‘invertebrates’ as it appears in [s]ection 45’s definition of ‘fish’ clearly denotes invertebrates connected to a marine habitat, not insects such as bumble bees.” To this end, the Court of Appeal concluded a liberal interpretation of the Act, supported by the legislative history and the express language in section 2067 that a terrestrial mollusk and invertebrate was a threatened species “(express language we cannot ignore),” was that fish defined in section 45, as a term of art, was not limited solely to aquatic species. Accordingly, a terrestrial invertebrate, like each of the four bumble bee species, could be listed as an endangered or threatened species under the Act. Judgment was reversed.