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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way Home from Work
Midwest Region, May 2, 2013
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While carpooling back home from an out-of-town meeting, I mentioned that a trail was being put in close to my house, and the neighbors were up in arms over the amount of trees being cut to put in the trail. My carpool companion, Josh, asked me when the trees were cut, and "how big were the trees"? Well, the trees were being cut in April and May, and the trees were fairly large. As it turns out, both of these facts were significant, because my home is in the middle of Indiana bat country. Federally endangered Indiana bats use trees that are 9 inches or larger in diameter, and that have loose bark, cracks, or crevices, for roosting and raising young after March. This means that cutting potential roost trees during the active season from April to November might injure or kill bats that are using them.

 

As it happened, there was a meeting scheduled between my neighbors and the City Parks trail staff that afternoon. I asked whether the city had consulted with the Fish and Wildlife Service prior to cutting the trees. I was met with blank stares. I went on to explain that since the trail project was federally funded, it was required that the Service be consulted to avoid situations just like this. The city agreed to meet onsite with bat biologist, Shauna Marquardt, to discuss project plans and potential ways to avoid impacts to bats. The city was able to avoid most trees that could be used as roost trees. For the trees that could not be avoided and will be cleared during the summer, the city must hire a consultant to conduct acoustical monitoring to see if bats are in the area and using the potential roost trees. If bats are detected at roost trees, recorded calls will be analyzed to determine what bat species is present and the Service will work with the city to find the best solution to avoid impacts to bats while completing the project. The City of Columbia has since contacted our office with other projects involving tree clearing to ensure they are meeting their responsibilities under the Endangered Species Act.
 

Contact Info: Scott Hamilton, 573 234-2132 x 122, scott_hamilton@fws.gov



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