Northern long-eared bat declared endangered : NPR

The northern long-eared bat is the third species of bat to be listed as endangered this year due to white-nosed syndrome.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources/AP

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Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources/AP

The northern long-eared bat is the third species of bat to be listed as endangered this year due to white-nosed syndrome.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources/AP

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – The Biden administration declared the northern long-eared bat endangered on Tuesday in a last-ditch effort to save a species that has been pushed to the brink of extinction by white-nosed syndrome, a fungal disease.

“White-nosed syndrome is ravaging cave bats like the northern long-eared bat at an unprecedented rate,” said Martha Williams, director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

She said the agency is “deeply committed to working with partners on a balanced approach to reducing the impact of the outbreak and protecting survivors to restore northern long-eared bat populations.”

First recorded in the US in 2006, The disease has infected 12 types of bats and kill millions of people. The northern long-eared bat is one of the hardest hit, with estimates of the number of affected populations being reduced by 97% or more. This bat is found in 37 east and north central states, along with Washington, DC and much of Canada.

Named for the translucent, white spots that appear on infected bats, white nose syndrome attacks the wings, snout, and ears of bats when they hibernate in caves and abandoned beaks.

It causes them to wake up early from hibernation and sometimes fly out. They can burn off stored fat during the winter and eventually starve.

The disease has spread over nearly 80% of the geographic range where the northern long-eared bat lives and is expected to cover all of it by 2025.

Another species devastated by the fungus is the tricolor bat, government proposes to classify as endangered in September.

Bats are said to give the US agriculture industry a $3 billion annual boost by gobbling up pests and pollinating certain crops.

Fish and Wildlife Service designated as the northern long-eared bat as threatened in 2015. With the situation increasingly dire, the agency proposed an endangered list in March and considered public opinion before deciding to proceed. The reclassification took effect on January 30, 2023.

In many cases, the service identifies areas of “critical habitat” that are considered particularly important to the survival of an endangered species. Spokesperson Georgia Parham said officials decided not to do so for the northern long-eared bat because habitat loss was not the primary reason for their decline. Calling attention to their hibernation spots can make things worse, she added.

Restoration efforts will focus on wooded areas where bats spend the summer — often singly or in small groups, nesting under tree bark or in tree hollows and crevices. Appearing at dusk, they feed on moths, beetles and other insects.

Under the Endangered Species Act, federal agencies must consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure projects they fund or authorize — such as: logging, regulatory fires, and highway construction — would not jeopardize the survival of a listed species.

For non-federal landowners, actions that could result in unintentional homicide may be permitted but a permit will be required.

The Fish and Wildlife Service said it would also work with wind energy companies to reduce the possibility of bats attacking turbines. These collisions currently pose a threat to about half of the northern long-eared bat’s range, an area that is likely to grow as wind energy development expands.

The service has approved nearly two dozen plans to allow wind energy and forestry projects to proceed, said Karen Herrington, Midwest regional coordinator for threatened and endangered species. take steps to make them more bat-friendly.

Operators can limit the danger by reducing blade rotation during bat migration and when winds are low.

Research continues on methods to combat white nose syndrome, including the development of a vaccine. The service has distributed more than $46 million to the campaign, including about 150 private agencies, organizations, and Native American tribes.


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