WASHINGTON — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday announced that the eastern small-footed and northern long-eared bats may warrant federal protection as threatened or endangered species, following an initial review of a petition seeking to protect the species under the Endangered Species Act.
The Service will initiate a more thorough status review for both bats to determine whether these species should be added to the federal list of endangered and threatened wildlife.
USF&W received a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity in 2010 requesting that the two species of bats be listed as threatened or endangered and that critical habitat be designated under the ESA.
Information in the petition and in the Service’s files indicates that the continued existence of one or both of these species may be threatened by several factors, including habitat destruction and degradation, disturbance of hibernation areas and maternity roosts, and impacts related to white-nose syndrome, a deadly disease that that has killed more than 1 million cave-hibernating bats since its discovery in 2006. Existing regulations of these activities may be inadequate to protect the two species.
Tuesday’s decision, commonly known as a 90-day petition finding, is based on scientific and commercial information about the species provided in the petition requesting protection of the species under the ESA. The petition finding does not mean that the Service has decided it is appropriate to protect the eastern small-footed and northern long-eared bats under the ESA. Rather, this finding is the first step in a process that triggers a more thorough review of all the biological information available. The finding will publish in the Federal Register on June 29, 2011.
The eastern small-footed bat occurs from eastern Canada and New England south to Alabama and Georgia and west to Oklahoma. The northern long-eared bat occurs across much of the eastern and north-central United States and across all Canadian provinces west to the southern Northwest Territories and eastern British Columbia.
Learn more at http://www.fws.gov/whitenosesyndrome/.