Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Fish and Wildlife Service May Weaken Bat Protections

northern long-eared bat in Illinois with symptoms of white-nose syndromeThe U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has proposed weakening protections for the northern long-eared bat by reducing its stats from “endangered” to “threatened”. Advocates for endangered species say FWS has included a special rule aimed at conceding to pressure from industries and politicians critical of the Endangered Species Act.

The less-protective proposal comes despite the fact that the bat, which has been decimated by the fungal disease known as white-nose syndrome, has already declined by up to 99 percent in the Northeast.

The northern long-eared bat is one of seven bat species affected by white-nose syndrome, a disease that scientists believe was introduced to North America from Europe, and which first appeared on bats in a cave near Albany in 2006. The disease has already spread to the Midwest, South and Great Lakes states, as well as into Canada. As a result of the northern long-eared bat’s dramatic decline, the Center petitioned to have the species listed under the Endangered Species Act in 2010.

In response to this petition, the Fish and Wildlife Service recommended in 2013 that the northern long-eared bat be listed as “endangered,” the most protective status under the Endangered Species Act. Advocates from the Center for Biological Diversity say that heavy push-back from the timber, oil and gas, mining, and wind-energy industries, delayed a final decision on the bat’s designation for six months and led to the walk-back from endangered, to threatened.

“With its latest proposal to downgrade the listing status of the northern long-eared bat from endangered to threatened, and allow exemptions for activities that might result in harm to the bat,” a statement from the Center for Biological Diversity said, “the Fish and Wildlife Service has retreated dramatically from its original recommendation. Listing decisions under the Endangered Species Act are supposed to be based strictly on the best available science, and not on economic, political or other factors.”

In November more than 80 bat scientists sent a letter to Fish and Wildlife director Dan Ashe, urging him to follow through with his agency’s recommendation to list the species as endangered. A final decision from the agency is due on April 2.

Photo: A northern long-eared bat with symptoms of white-nose syndrome. Photo by Steve Taylor; University of Illinois.

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2 Responses

  1. Paul says:

    We found one of these bats in a hunting cabin we had a few years back. This was in late October so it was late to see one. I was able to (with a good strong glove) get the bat outside where it took off. It was pretty warm so I think it was going to be alright with finding a new hiding spot. This is one of the coolest bats to see close up. It has what looks just like a little dogs face.

    Under the circumstances de-listing these now is probably a mistake. Bats are finally starting to beat white-nose – a little anyway.

  2. Charlie S says:

    “Advocates from the Center for Biological Diversity say that heavy push-back from the timber, oil and gas, mining, and wind-energy industries, delayed a final decision on the bat’s designation for six months and led to the walk-back from endangered, to threatened.”

    >> Here we go again! Big industry’s desire to kill kill kill whatever gets in their way of profit. How the truck do these people sleep at night with all the damage they do? I suppose you have to have a conscience to be bothered in the least about anything at all. A bunch of stiffs! Until we take campaign financing out of the political campaigns we may as well kiss this planet goodbye.Puppet leaders once again caving to special interest. Who gives a hoot anyway…we’re not going to be around forever…right?