U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Special Rule to Focus Protections for Northern Long-eared Bat (Myotis septentrionalis)

Posted: January 19th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Protected Species | Comments Off on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Special Rule to Focus Protections for Northern Long-eared Bat (Myotis septentrionalis)
Myotis_septentrionalis

northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis)

The US Fish & Wildlife Service proposed to list the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) as endangered under the ESA in October 2013 and is due to make a final decision by April 2, 2015.  The Service’s options include listing the species as endangered; listing as threatened; listing as threatened with a 4(d) rule; and withdrawing the proposal to list.

The latest proposal is to list the species as threatened under the ESA 4(d) rule.  For species listed as threatened, the Service may issue a 4(d) rule to provide necessary species conservation protections without unduly burdening private landowners and citizens with regulations that do not further the conservation of the species.

In the case of the northern long-eared bat, the proposed 4(d) rule would mean that in areas of the country affected by white-nose syndrome, activities such as forest management practices, maintenance and limited expansion of transportation and utility rights-of-way, removal of trees and brush to maintain prairie habitat, and limited tree removal projects would be exempt from being considered a “take” (harming, harassing and killing) provided these activities protect known maternity roosts and hibernacula.  The proposed 4(d) rule also exempts take as a result of removal of hazardous trees, removal of northern long-eared bats from human dwellings, and research-related activities. These measures are designed to protect northern long-eared bats when they are most vulnerable, including when they occupy hibernacula and during the two-month pup-rearing season from June through July. The greatest potential restrictions would be during these months, with reduced restrictions at all other times.

In parts of the country not affected by white-nose syndrome, the proposed rule recognizes activities that result in incidental take of bats are not imperiling the species, and all will be exempt from the act’s protections.

The Service is seeking public comment on the proposed 4(d) rule and is accepting comments on its October 2013 proposal to list the northern long-eared bat under the ESA. Comments are accepted through March 17, 2015. Specifically, the Service is seeking comment on whether it may be appropriate to exempt incidental take as a result of other categories of activities beyond those covered in the proposed rule and if so, under what conditions and with what conservation measures.

You may submit comments by one of the following methods:

  1. Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter Docket No. FWS–R5–ES–2011–0024. You may submit a comment by clicking on “Comment Now!” Please ensure you have found the correct rulemaking before submitting your comment.

Link to USFWS News Release

USFWS extends comment period for northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis)

Posted: August 7th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Protected Species | Comments Off on USFWS extends comment period for northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis)

After their October 2013 proposal to list the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reopened their public comment period for 60 days, through August 29, 2014.  USFWS has also extended the agency’s deadline to April 2, 2015, to make its final decision on whether to list the species.

Northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis). Photo by Steven Thomas/NPS.

The USFWS is specifically seeking information regarding the interpretation of scientific studies cited in the proposed rule, along with any additional scientific information not already considered in the proposal.  They also request information on northern long-eared bat population trends, information on white-nose syndrome and current or planned efforts to conserve the species.

Read the full News Bulletin

New Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis) Survey Guide from USFWS

Posted: February 4th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Protected Species | Comments Off on New Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis) Survey Guide from USFWS

In May of 2013, the FWS released the 2013 Revised Range-wide Indiana Bat Summer Survey Guidelines. The updated 2014 Rangewide Indiana Bat Summer Survery Guidelines are now available.  Obviously, if you do Indiana bat surveys, you’ll want to compare the documents for yourself, but just in case you want a quick synopsis, I reviewed the new Guidelines and made a list.

Apart from a simplified (but consistent) “Objectives” statement, substantive changes to the Guidelines include:

  • Mist-netting surveys for non-linear projects in the Northeast and Appalachian Recovery Units now require a minimum of 42 (previously, 24) net nights per 0.5 km² of suitable summer habitat (See “Step 4,” page 5 of the Guidelines.).
  • Instructions for mist-netting surveys in the Midwest, Southeast, and Southwest USFWS Regions no longer contain language that allows survey results following previous Indiana Bat Mist Netting Guidelines (from the 2007 Indiana Bat Draft Recovery Plan) (See “Step 4,” page 5 of the Guidelines.).
  • Mist-netting surveys for non-linear projects in the Midwest, Southeast, and Southwest USFWS Regions now require a minimum of 9 (previously, 4) net nights per 0.5 km² of suitable summer habitat (See “Step 4,” page 5 of the Guidelines.).
  • The 2014 Guidelines also specify that the sampling period for netting in the Midwest, Southeast, and Southwest USFWS Regions will begin at sunset and continue for at least 5 hours.  A maximum of 3 consecutive netting nights at any given location is set (see “Step 4”, page 6 of the Guidelines.).
  • The number of detector nights for acoustic surveys in non linear projects has been reduced from 6 detector nights per 0.5 km² to 4 detector nights per 0.5 km² (“Step 5”, page 6).  The number of detector locations per 0.5 km² has been changed from 3 locations to 2 locations to mirror the change in number of detection nights required.
  • A minor clarification that results of acoustic ID programs should be reviewed “by site by night” (previously “by night and site”) (“Step 6”, page 7).
  • There is a new statement describing the minimum review of files from acoustic ID programs at the beginning of “Step 7,” page 7.  This basically stipulates that when the acoustic ID program tags a sight/night as having likely Indiana bat presence, all files from that sight/night must be reviewed

Indiana Bat USFWS Summer Survey Guidlines

Posted: May 29th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Protected Species | Comments Off on Indiana Bat USFWS Summer Survey Guidlines

The Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) is protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973, as amended.  The new survey protocol provided by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommends guidance on survey methodology and reporting requirements.  The protocol is designed to determine whether Indiana bats are present or likely absent at a given site during summer.  The approach is phased and includes coordination with the UISFWS, habitat assessments, and acoustic, mist-net, radio-tracking, and emergence surveys.

Future changes to the guidance are anticipated for 2014 and should be available the USFWS Indiana bat survey guidance website.

Wildflower Landscaping and Gardening

Posted: December 4th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Protected Species | Comments Off on Wildflower Landscaping and Gardening

Take a hike through a meadow in full bloom and chances are you’ll wish you could recreate a smaller version in your own yard. The colors and varieties of flowers and grasses are totally random, yet about as close to landscaped perfection that you’ll ever find. Whether you have a large expanse or a small area, a wildflower garden can be a unique addition to your landscaping plan.

The native plants are hardy and once established require little care, fertilizer or watering. In a true wildflower garden, the flowers are planted close together, at least one per square foot of dirt. This allows them to provide shelter for one another, conserve water, and helps to eliminate weeds. The brightly colored flowers attract a variety of birds and butterflies and can provide a taste of wilderness even in the most urban setting,

Once a wildflower garden is fully established, you can sit back and enjoy, but the real effort comes with the soil preparation and maintenance in the first two or three years. Here is a guide to the successful planning and planting of your own wildflower meadow.

Designing Your Garden:

Plant a combination of wildflowers and native grasses. The most common complaint from new gardeners is that the garden bloomed beautifully the first year and proceeded to get sparser in subsequent years, accompanied by a high concentration of weeds. This is often the result of choosing a seed mixture consisting of non-native annuals instead of true native, perennial wildflowers and grasses. With the latter species, you shouldn’t expect blooms until the third year.

When choosing plants, use a combination of Spring and late bloomers, as well as a mixture of tall and low growing species.

Flowers that attract birds or butterflies, include Blazing stars, coneflowers, asters, silphiums and sunflowers. If deer are a problem in your area, choose a combination of deer resistant seeds such as lavender hyssop, nodding wild onion, coreopsis, purple clover, purple coneflower and meadow rose.

Choose a sunny location with good air circulation. Your wildflowers will need a minimum of one half day of full sun to really thrive. Steep north-facing slopes tend to be sheltered from the sun and are not the best candidates for meadows, but do well with ferns or woodland wildflowers.

Soil & Site Preparation:

Determine your soil type, adding to it if needed. For instance, a sandy or clay type soil will benefit from added organic matter which breaks up heavy soils, improving ability to absorb water and provides air flow to the roots. The other effective method for improving poor soil is to plant a “green manure crop” such as buckwheat. Let it grow for a year and plow it under. The roots will draw up the nutrients from the lower soil and convert them into organic matter.

In addition to proper growing conditions and good soil, the most important factor in growing a successful wildflower garden is having a smooth, surface, free of weeds. The first step is to remove any existing vegetation is by smothering, cultivating, herbiciding or a combination of these.

On smaller areas, smothering is an effective method of eliminating weeds. Cover the planting area with dark plastic, tarps, old carpeting, plywood or a thick layer of leaves for a complete growing season. Adding a layer of newspaper before covering will enrich the soil even more. As the paper decomposes, worms will move in, adding even more nutrients.

A broad spectrum, non-persistent herbicide will also do the trick, especially on larger areas. The third alternative is to cultivate the area using a rototiller or tractor.

Planting:

Once you have prepared your site, purchase your seeds from a reliable grower. On areas less than one acre, the seeds can be dispersed by hand, by mixing with a lightweight material such as vermiculite, peat moss or sawdust. For a 1000 square foot planting, combine one bushel basket of this material, dampened slightly, with your seed. Take half the mixture and spread across the area. When spreading the second half, walk perpendicular to your first spreading. If the soil is dry, proceed to roll the area. If it is wet, then wait until it dries slightly to avoid compacting the soil.