Mar 08, 2015
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is proposing a “species-specific 4[d] rule” under the Endangered Species Act to provide for the conservation of the northern long-eared bat (NLEB). In the U.S., the range of the NLEB is from Maine south to North Carolina, west to Oklahoma, north to the Dakotas, and into eastern Montana and Wyoming. In some Northeast caves, NLEB bat populations have been reduced by up to 99% by the White-Nose Syndrome (WNS) fungus.
In October 2013, the USFWS originally proposed to list NLEB as an endangered species.During the public comment period, comments and additional information collected suggested that NLEB should be listed as a threatened species with a species-specific rule that would accept limited forms of “take.” The USFWS reopened the public comment period for NLEB in the January 16, 2015 Federal Register that will allow the public to provide comments through March 17, 2015.
The proposed species-specific rule would “prohibit purposeful take of NLEB, except in instances of removal of NLEB from human dwellings and authorized capture and handling of NLEB by individuals permitted to conduct these same activities for other listed bats.” The USFWS announced that in areas not affected by WNS all incidental takes resulting from any lawful activity will be “excepted from prohibition.” In areas where WNS is known to occur, incidental take prohibitions would apply, except takes associated with 1) forestry practices; 2) maintenance and limited expansion of utility line and transportation corridors; 3) removal of trees and brush to maintain prairie habitat; 4) limited tree removal, provided these activities avoid known roosts and hibernacula; and 5) removal of hazardous (danger) for the protection of human life and property.