The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will delay its decision on whether to list the northern long-eared bat as endangered. The decision was set to come in October, but the agency will wait six more months before deciding. Natural resource departments in Wisconsin and three other Midwestern states requested the delay.
Wisconsin DNR Director of Natural Heritage Conservation Erin Crain says state agencies need time to give input on how conservation measures would be implemented. “We think it’s really important that the state agencies are part of the process. Most of the information about the status of listed species and their locations and their overall health.reside with the states actually.”
Bats provide valuable services to farmers and the public by eating insects, but the Wisconsin’s bats face new obstacles thanks to the spread of the deadly white nose syndrome found in the state for the first time earlier this year.
The northern long-eared bat is already listed as threatened in the state of Wisconsin. Still, early guidelines put forth by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service drew protest from the forest products industry and state natural resource departments, who said they were unrealistic. The draft rules indicated some summer logging might be restricted to protect bat habitat.
Crain says as a result of the extension, the public comment period also reopens. “This is an opportunity for the public to weigh in, and also for the Fish and Wildlife Service to work with state agencies and other folks who have information that can help inform how they can best protect the bat, and what kind of conservation measures can be put in place.”
Public comment should be routed directly to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.not the state DNR.
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp issued a statement, saying she and her department applauds the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for its “prudent decision” to provide a six-month extension.
The statement further reads: “The extension allows stakeholders, including the state of Wisconsin, our neighboring states, forestry management partners and federal officials additional time to develop effective conservation measures for this important species using the best science available. Wisconsin DNR also will continue working with affected industries and landowners to protect the bats and ensure their access to diverse regional summer roosting locations and winter hibernacula.”