U. S. Fish and WIldlife Service requesting information on seven bat species

In 2007, biologists with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation reported that many cave-hibernating bats in that state were sick and dying from a white fungus on their muzzles and other areas of their bodies. Since that time, more than a million hibernating bats have died from this disease in and around caves and mines from New Hampshire to Tennessee. In some caves, 90-100% of the bats are dead or dying. Biologists currently suspect that the bats are dying from a newly discovered cold-loving fungus, Geomyces destructans, that invades the skin of bats.

The rapid spread of white-nose syndrome (WNS) and associated declines in bat populations have led to requests to the US Fish and Wildlife Service to protect cave-hibernating bats under the Endangered Species Act. In January 2010, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) petitioned the Secretary of the Interior to list the eastern small-footed bat (Myotis leibii) and the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) as threatened or endangered species and to designate critical habitat. The CBD petition argues that threats to these species include WNS and habitat loss associated with mining, agriculture and forestry operations. In December 2010, concerned citizens submitted information to the Service about impacts of WNS on the little brown myotis (Myotis lucifugus) and requested that the Service initiate a status review and implement interim conservation measures.

In response to concerns about WNS, the Fish and Wildlife Service is collecting information on the three species mentioned above and four other species: big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus), tri-colored bat (Perimyotis subflavus), cave myotis (Myotis velifer), and southeastern myotis (Myotis austroriparius). The Service is preparing for a status assessment process that will first focus on cave-hibernating bats known to be susceptible to WNS (or which have been exposed to WNS but not known to be susceptible). In particular, the Service is looking for information about present or threatened “destruction, modification, or curtailment of the species’ habitat or range”; overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; diseases or predation; the “inadequacy” of existing regulatory mechanisms; other natural or manmade factors affecting the species’ continued existence; the distribution, population size, mortality rates, or other demographic indicators related to these species; and white-nose syndrome. One factor that the Service indicates it is particularly interested in is “logging/loss of forested habitat-especially late-successional forest.”

Over the last decade, NCASI has supported several research projects across the nation investigating habitat relationships of bats in managed forest landscapes. These projects have documented opportunities to provide suitable habitat for forest-dwelling bats in managed landscapes and to contribute to their conservation.  Please contact Dr. T. Bently Wigley for information about these research projects and resulting publications. 

Contact Information