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Indiana Bat and Northern Long-eared Bat
Section 7 Consultation with Federal Highway Administration
Range-wide Consultation and Conservation Strategy with Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for Indiana bat and northern long-eared bat under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act
The Service and Federal Highway Administration are working towards a standardized approach to assessing impacts to Indiana bats and northern long-eared bats from highway construction and expansion projects; then avoiding, minimizing and mitigating those impacts.
Indiana bats are found over most of the Eastern half of the United States. Section 7(a)(l) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) requires federal agencies to use their authorities to conserve listed species. Section 7(a)(2) of act requires federal agencies to consult on any action that may affect a listed species. Consultation and mitigation approaches for impacts to Indiana bats vary greatly across the 22 states that consult on Indiana bat, and those approaches have been rapidly changing in recent years. Consultation approaches are likely to continue to evolve independently in response to the spread of white-nose syndrome across the species’ range. These variations and changes have caused uncertainty, conflict, delays, and large workloads for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and state Departments of Transportation (DOTs).
FHWA has requested that this conservation and consultation strategy be expanded to include the northern long-eared bat, a species currently proposed for listing as endangered under the ESA. Although a final decision on listing is still pending, because the northern long-eared bat’s range overlaps with the Indiana bat but is even more extensive (all or portions of 39 states), consultation issues similar to those experienced with the Indiana bat are expected. Consultation approaches for both species are likely to evolve in response to the spread of white-nose syndrome across the species’ ranges.
This landscape-level conservation strategy being developed by the FHWA and USFWS will encompass the ranges of both bat species and will provide more transparency and predictability to FHWA and state DOTs through proactive planning. This effort will provide information to these agencies that will allow them to strategically avoid developing projects in high impact or high risk areas for the Indiana bat and northern long-eared bat. For those projects that cannot avoid impacts, project proponents will be able to design projects to minimize impacts, thus avoiding the need to revise projects later in their development. For those large-scale projects or projects with greater impacts, priority conservation areas will be identified to offset and minimize the impacts of the take. This approach will result in an increase in the consistency of both project design and review, will reduce consultation process timeframes, reduce delays, and contribute meaningfully to the conservation of both species.
In sum, the FHWA and Regions 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 of the Service are collaborating on an effort to develop rangewide consultation and conservation strategies for Indiana bats and northern long-eared bats to help expedite the consultation process related to transportation projects. The strategy will include:
For More Information
Regional Representatives on the FHWA Indiana Bat Team
Last updated: May 28, 2015