SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A downtown Sacramento construction project is uprooting trees and bushes, leaving some neighbors worried that a rare and endangered beetle is at risk.

James Brown was concerned when he saw construction crews working on a site he thought was home to a protected species.

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“See the fence that they knocked down? They just came and destroyed it a couple days ago,” Brown said.

Up until a few days ago, a red sign has warned people not to disturb the Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle. The sign was placed in a fenced-off patch of trees and shrubs near 7th and G streets in downtown Sacramento.

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The endangered insects are native to the Sacramento Region and their numbers have been dwindling due to a loss of habitat.

SMUD environmental specialist Ammon Rice said the beetles are federally protected. The site is owned by SMUD, and crews are building a new electrical substation on the land. Their staff biologist says its all a misunderstanding.

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“The sign was a remnant from the railyards projects where they did have several shrubs in that area,” Rice said.

SMUD says a survey three years ago showed the beetles never lived in the specific bushes Brown was concerned about.

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“Since those shrubs were isolated in the downtown area, we made the determination we could remove those shrubs without having any effect on endangered species,” Rice said.

Brown says he still is not convinced.

“If it was taken care of in 2015, then why did they still let it stay up for three more years and put it back up in February of this year?” Brown said.

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Rice said the company is very thorough when doing these projects and made sure there was no effect on the endangered species.