Public comment period extended for proposed listing of northern long-eared bat as threatened

Recently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a 6-month extension of the final determination of whether to federally list the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) as endangered (79 Federal Register 36698). The agency also reopened for 60 days the comment period on the proposed rule to list the species.
In the proposed rule, the Service indicated that detections of hibernating northern long-eared bats in many caves and mines have declined due to mortality from a disease, white-nose syndrome (WNS), caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans. Although the proposed rule indicated that the bat was primarily affected by white-nose syndrome, it expressed concern about potential effects from forest management and other land uses.

However, the Service has indicated that there is substantial disagreement regarding the sufficiency or accuracy of the available data, making it necessary to solicit additional information through August 29, 2014. The agency will now publish a listing determination on or before April 2, 2015.

NCASI submitted technical comments to the Service on the proposed rule, noting that: (1) availability of forested habitat does not appear to be a limiting factor for this or other bat species affected by the disease; (2) there is no evidence that forest management activities limited populations of northern long-eared bats pre-white-nose syndrome or are affecting or limiting populations post-white-nose syndrome; and (3) managers will likely need to provide a diversity of forest structural conditions on the landscape if they are to accommodate roosting and foraging needs of the entire community of forest-dwelling bats, including all species susceptible to white-nose syndrome. Forest management can be an important tool for providing diverse forest structural conditions and, in some cases, may be essential to providing appropriate habitat conditions. 


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