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)

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

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