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Northern long-eared bat protected as a Threatened Species under Endangered Species Act

Northern long-eared bat protected as a Threatened Species under Endangered Species Act


Northern Long-eared bat with white nose syndromeAcross much of its range, the northern long-eared bat, Myotis septentrionalis, has incurred tremendous losses due to the devastating impacts of white-nose syndrome. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that it will protect the northern long-eared bat as a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Bat Conservation International (BCI) has worked closely with stakeholders, managers, researchers, and decision-makers on this important listing decision and we are pleased to see legal protections for this species provided under the Endangered Species Act.  White-nose syndrome has only been present on the North American landscape for the past 8 years, and is still an emerging threat.  A threatened designation will allow maximum flexibility and the ability to dynamically manage this species – which are critical tools needed as we learn more about this fungus and disease, and ways to manage it.

The northern long-eared bat is a unique case in the history of the Endangered Species Act.  The devastating declines to date are caused by a non-native fungus, and not human activities, which have historically driven endangerment for many species and crafted the framework of the ESA.  It is unfortunate, however, that due to the legal constraints of the ESA, the US Fish and Wildlife Service cannot proactively enact protections for this species, despite their own acknowledgement in their decision that the species is likely to “become in danger of extinction at some point in the foreseeable future”. 

As such, BCI sees this decision as a rallying-cry to invest more in white-nosed syndrome research.  Specifically, BCI hopes that more funding, federal, state and private, will be directed towards identifying a way to control the invasive fungus that causes this disease.  Without a tool to stop white-nosed syndrome, the northern long-eared bat, and several other species of bats, will continue their march towards extinction. 

 

 

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