U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Extends Comment Period on Proposal to List the Northern Long-eared Bat as Endangered
For Immediate Release
November 26, 2013
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is extending the deadline for public comment on the proposal to list the northern long-eared bat as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The extension notice is expected to publish in the federal register early next week and will extend the public comment period to January 2, 2014.
The northern long-eared bat is found across much of the eastern and north central United States, and all Canadian provinces from the Atlantic Ocean west to the southern Yukon Territory and eastern British Columbia.
The Service’s proposal to list the northern long-eared bat as endangered appeared in the October 2, 2013, Federal Register. The proposal opened a 60-day public comment period that would have ended on December 2, 2013. The Service will be extending the time for public comment an additional 30 days, with the comment period ending January 2, 2014.
The primary threat to the northern long-eared bat is a disease, white-nose syndrome, which has killed an estimated 5.5 million cave-hibernating bats in the Northeast, Southeast, Midwest and Canada. Populations of the northern long-eared bat in the Northeast have declined by 99 percent since symptoms of white-nose syndrome were first observed in 2006.
White-nose syndrome is a fungal disease known to cause high mortality in bats that hibernate in caves. The fungus causing the disease thrives in low temperatures and high humidity – conditions commonly found in caves and mines where northern long-eared bats hibernate.
White-nose syndrome has spread rapidly throughout the East and is currently establishing a foothold in the Midwest. Although there is debate as to how fast white-nose syndrome may spread throughout the species’ range, current model predictions suggest it will likely spread throughout the United States.