Author: Harold

California Court of Appeal declares non-native honeysuckle nests illegal

California Court of Appeal declares non-native honeysuckle nests illegal

Bumblebees can be classified as ‘fish’ under California conservation law, court says

A state appeals court has declared that bumblebee nests that are built in San Luis Obispo County’s wildlands are not illegal under state law, making them exempt from a city ban on non-native honeysuckle.

The decision by the California Court of Appeal in San Luis Obispo County does not affect the city’s ordinance, which prohibits the use of wildflower seeds in non-native vegetation. But it could be used as a defense by cities against lawsuits challenging their actions on the basis of their wildlife laws.

A similar case had failed to convince the appeals court before.

“It is not clear what kind of court the California Supreme Court would be if we were to lose,” said David Moore of the county’s Natural Resources Agency. “I think they would be very interested in upholding the policy decisions of our agency and ensuring that we are using the resources responsibly.”

City of San Luis Obispo Mayor Jim Spence opposed the ruling, saying, “That’s just the first step in what could be a lengthy fight and we’re ready to throw as much money at it as possible.”

The case originated when a city resident filed a complaint in court claiming that his city violated state wildlife laws when it planted non-native honeysuckle – or honeysuckle that had been imported – along a roadside in the city’s wildlands. The resident argued that the honeysuckle was not native to San Luis Obispo County, as required by California law, and was therefore illegal.

The city ordinance bans the use of wildflower seeds for non-native plantings in wildlands outside city parks. The city argued that the honeysuckle was a non-native plant with the potential to take over, so the ban was “appropriate both because of the plants’ effects on the endangered honeybee populations and in the interest of protecting San Luis Obispo County’s remaining forest lands.”

But the city contended that the honeysuckle was also likely to reduce the local beehive population – which, according to the mayor, was too large to sustain on wildflower seeds alone.

“It appears that the city has no problem with honeybees,” Moore said.

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