U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service proposes special rule for northern long-eared bat

Recently, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service proposed to adopt a species-specific rule under authority of Section 4(d) of the Endangered Species Act should they determine the northern long-eared bat warrants listing as a threatened species under the ESA.

The Service is also reopening the public comment period on the October 2, 2013, proposed rule to list the northern long-eared bat as an endangered species (78 Federal Register 61046). Comments on the 4(d) rule and the proposed listing will be accepted through March 17, 2015. The Service has indicated they will publish a listing determination on or before April 2, 2015.

The Service proposed federally listing the northern long-eared bat as endangered, largely due to the threat posed by white-nose syndrome that is caused by the fungus Pseudogymnascus destructans. The fungus affects the skin of northern long-eared bats and several other bat species as they hibernate and can result in death. The Service has indicated that much of the eastern United States is currently affected by white-nose syndrome.

The proposed 4(d) rule prohibits purposeful “take” of (i.e., causing harm to) northern long-eared bats throughout its range except for removal of the bats from human dwellings and authorized capture and handling by permitted individuals. In areas affected by white-nose syndrome, forest management practices and a limited number of other land use activities will not be considered by the Service to result in “take” if the activities are conducted in accordance with the following measures:
“(i) Occur more than 0.25 mile (0.4 km) from a known, occupied hibernacula;

(ii) Avoid cutting or destroying known, occupied maternity roost trees during the pup season (June 1–July 31); and

(iii) Avoid clearcuts within 0.25 (0.4 km) mile of known, occupied maternity roost trees during the pup season (June 1–July 31).”

In the proposed 4(d) rule, the Service also states that it does not “consider conversion of a mixed forest into an intensively managed monoculture pine plantation as forest management covered under this proposed rule, as typically these types of monoculture pine plantations provide very poor-quality bat habitat.”

More information about the northern long-eared bat, the proposal to list the species under the Endangered Species Act, and the proposed 4(d) rule are available at http://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/mammals/nlba/index.html.

NCASI submitted technical comments in 2013 and 2014 on the proposed listing of the species, and is currently reviewing the 4(d) rule.

For more information, contact Dr. T. Bently Wigley.  

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