The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced yesterday that bats stricken with white nose syndrome may warrant federal protection as threatened or endangered species.
One of the species, the northern long-eared bat, is a northeastern Minnesota resident.
The USFWS says it will initiate a more thorough status review for the eastern small-footed and northern long-eared bat to determine whether these species should be added to the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. Eastern small-footed bats have not been documented in Minnesota, but the northern long-eared bat is a Minnesota resident that is associated with older forests with big trees.
USFWS evidence suggests that the continued existence of one or both of these species may be threatened by several factors, including habitat destruction and degradation, the disturbance of hibernation areas and maternity roosts, and by impacts related to white-nose syndrome, a deadly disease that that has killed more than 1 million cave-hibernating bats since its discovery in 2006.
Existing regulations may be inadequate to protect the two species, the USFWS said in a media release.
Some 10,000 northern long-eared bats hibernate in the shaft of the Soudan Underground Mine State Park, where white-nose syndrome has been found. Wilderness News Online reported on that story HERE, back in February.
Yesterday’s federal action is commonly known as a 90-day petition finding. The petition finding does not mean that the Service has decided it is appropriate to protect the bats under the Endangered Species Act. The move is the first step in a process that triggers a more thorough review of all the biological information available.
The full media release on the finding can be found HERE.
More information on northern long-eared bats can be found HERE.