Endangered status proposed for northern long-eared bat
A virtual public meeting and hearing 6-8:30 p.m. Thursday, April 7, will take input on a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposal to move the northern long-eared bat from threatened to endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
The bat is now facing extinction due to white-nose syndrome, a deadly disease affecting bat-dwelling caves across the continent. The disease has spread to nearly 80% of the species’ range and nearly all of its U.S. range since it was listed as threatened in 2015 and is expected to spread to the entire range by 2025. White-nose syndrome has caused estimated declines of 97-100% among affected northern long-eared bat populations.
The reclassification proposal comes following an in-depth review of the species found that the bat continues to decline and now meets the definition of endangered under the ESA. Bats are critical to healthy, functioning ecosystems and contribute at least $3 billion annually to the U.S. agriculture economy through pest control and pollination.
“White-nose syndrome is devastating northern long-eared bats at unprecedented rates, as indicated by this science-based finding,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director Charlie Wooley. “The Service is deeply committed to continuing our vital research with partners on reducing the impacts of white-nose syndrome, while working with diverse stakeholders to conserve the northern long-eared bat and reduce impacts to landowners.”
Comments on the proposal will be accepted through May 23 via regulations.gov or by mail to Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R3–ES–2021–0140, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: PRB/3W, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041–3803.
The April 7 meeting will include an information session 6-7:30 p.m. and a public hearing 7:30-8:30 p.m. Register at bit.ly/3jkwgdm.