NCASI submits supplemental technical comments on proposed listing of the northern long-eared bat

Several bat species in eastern North America are currently being affected by a disease known as white-nose syndrome that is caused by the fungus Pseudogymnascus destructans which affects their skin as they hibernate and can result in death.

In October 2013 (78 Federal Register 61046), the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service proposed federally listing the northern long- eared bat (M. septentrionalis) as endangered, largely due to the threat posed by white-nose syndrome. However, interim guidance for conferences and consultation that was released by the Service in January 2014 included a number of potential constraints on forest management that could result from a listing of the northern long-eared bat.

In June 2014 (79 Federal Register 36698), following review of initial comments submitted in response to the proposed rule, the Service announced a six month extension of the final determination of whether to list the northern long-eared bat as endangered and reopened the comment period on the proposed rule. The Service indicated that this extension was necessary because of “substantial disagreement regarding the sufficiency or accuracy of the available data relevant to our determination regarding the proposed listing, making it necessary to solicit additional information by reopening the comment period for 60 days.” Thus, NCASI recently submitted supplemental technical comments to the Service on the proposed listing of the northern long-eared bat. 

The NCASI supplemental technical comments suggest investigating differences between population abundance/trends reported by the Service and by agencies, consultants, and others during the public comment period, and accounting for limitations associated with survey methods and uncertainty associated with estimated trends in detections for this species. The comments also note that, based on USDA Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis data, forest conditions do not appear related to trends in detections of this bat species.

Finally, the comments note that active forest management within the range of the northern long-eared bat is an important tool for providing a mix of forest conditions that promote habitat diversity to support bat communities in general including the northern long-eared bat.

The Service will publish a listing determination on or before April 2, 2015.

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