[Federal Register: April 16, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 72)]
[Page 19015-19016]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Draft Indiana Bat Recovery Plan, First Revision; Draft Survey 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability for review and comment.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce 
availability of the draft revised recovery plan and draft survey 
protocol for the Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) for public review and 
comment. This species is federally listed as endangered under the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act).

DATES: In order to consider your comments on the draft recovery plan 
and draft survey protocol, we must receive them on or before July 16, 

ADDRESSES: Recovery Plan: You may obtain a copy of the recovery plan by 
any of the following means:
    1. World Wide Web: http://midwest.fws.gov/endangered; or

    2. U.S. mail or in-person pickup: Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Ecological Services Field Office, 620 South Walker 
Street, Bloomington, IN 47403-2121.
    You may submit electronic comments on the recovery plan to this e-
mail address: ibat_recovery_plan@fws.gov.
    Draft Survey Protocol: The draft survey protocol is available at 

this Web page also provides instructions and addresses for submitting 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Lori Pruitt, by U.S. mail or e-
mail (see ADDRESSES).



    Recovery of endangered or threatened animals or plants is a primary 
goal of our endangered species program. Recovery plans describe actions 
considered necessary for the conservation of the species, establish 
criteria for delisting species, and provide estimates of the time and 
cost for implementing the measures needed for recovery.
    The Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) requires the development of 
recovery plans for listed species, unless such a plan would not promote 
the conservation of a particular species. Section 4(f) of the Act, as 
amended in 1988, requires that we provide public notice and opportunity 
for public review and comment during recovery plan development. The 
Service will consider all information presented during a public comment 
period prior to approval of each new or revised recovery plan. The 
Service and other Federal agencies all also take these comments into 
consideration in the course of implementing approved recovery plans.
    The species was originally listed as in danger of extinction under 
the Exchanged Species Preservation Act of 1966. The original recovery 
plan for the species was published in 1983; this is the first recovery 
plan revision. As of October 2006, the Service had records of extant 
winter populations at approximately 281 hibernacula in 19 states and 
269 maternity colonies in 16 states. The 2005 winter census estimate of 
the population was 457,000.
    During winter, Indiana bats are restricted to suitable underground 
hibernacula. The vast majority of these sites are caves located in 
karst areas of the east-central United State; however, Indiana bats 
also hibernate in other cave-like locations, including abandoned mines. 
Most Indiana bats hibernate in caves or mines where the ambient 
temperature remains below 10[deg] C but infrequently drops below 
freezing, and the temperature is relatively stable. In summer, most 
reproductive females

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occupy roost sites under exfoliating bark of dead trees that retain 
large, thick slabs of peeling bark. These trees are typically within 
canopy gaps in a forest, in a fenceline, or along a wooded edge. 
Habitats in which maternity roosts occur include riparian zones, 
bottomland and floodplain habitats, wooded wetlands, and upland 
communities. Indiana bats typically forage in semi-open to closed 
forested habitats, forest edges, and riparian areas.
    Threats to the Indiana bat vary during its annual cycle. At the 
hibernacula, threats include modifications to caves, mines, and 
surrounding areas that change airflow and alter microclimate in the 
hibernacula. Human disturbance and vandalism pose significant threats 
during hibernation through direct mortality and by inducing arousal and 
consequent depletion of fat reserves. Natural catastrophes can also 
have a significant effect during winter because of the concentration of 
individuals in a relatively few sites. During summer months, possible 
threats relate to the loss and degradation of forested habitat. 
Migration pathways and swarming sites may also be affected by habitat 
loss and degradation. In addition to these threats, significant 
information gaps remain regarding the species' ecology that hinder 
sound decision-making on how best to manage and protect the species.
    The objective of the recovery plan is to provide a framework for 
the recovery of Indiana bat so that protection by the Act is no longer 
necessary. We may consider Indiana bat for classification from 
Endangered to Threatened status when the likelihood of the species 
becoming extinct in the foreseeable future has been precluded by 
achievement of the following criteria: (1) Permanent protection of a 
minimum of 80 percent of Priority-1 hibernacula in each of four 
Recovery Units (Ozark-Central, Midwest, Appalachian Mountains, and 
Northeast), with a minimum of one Priority-1 hibernaculum protected in 
each unit; (2) A minimum overall population estimate equal to the 2005 
population estimate of 457,000; and (3) Documentation that shows 
important hibernacula within each Recovery Unit have a positive annual 
population growth rate over the next 10-year period (i.e., five survey 
    We will consider Indiana bat for delisting when the likelihood of 
the species becoming threatened in the foreseeable future has been 
reduced by the achievement of the following criteria: (1) Permanent 
protection of a minimum of 50 percent of Priority-2 hibernacula in each 
Recovery Unit: (2) A minimum overall population estimate equal to the 
2005 population estimate of 457,000; and (3) Documentation that shows a 
positive population growth rate within each Recovery Unit over an 
additional five sequential survey periods (i.e., 10 years). If research 
on summer habitat requirements indicates the quality or quantity of 
maternity habitat is threatening recovery of the species, the Service 
will amend these criteria. Additional details on reclassification and 
delisting criteria are available in the recovery plan.
    We will meet these criteria through the following actions: (1) 
Conserving and managing hibernacula and their winter populations, (2) 
Conserving and managing summer habitat to maximize survival and 
fecundity, (3) Planning and conducting research essential for recovery, 
and (4) Developing and implementing a public information and outreach 
    In addition to seeking comments on the content of the entire 
recovery plan, we request any information on the appropriate scope and 
breadth of this recovery plan as it relates to the inclusion of 
available science for summer habitat. Furthermore, we are seeking any 
information related to hybridization that may be occurring with other 
bats within the range of Indiana bat. We are interested to know about 
this, the extent of such hybridization and its potential to affect the 
Indiana bat as a species. We also request information about the use of 
records of captured individuals to describe the summer, winter and 
maternity distribution of the species. In addition to soliciting 
comment on the recovery plan, we are seeking comment on a draft survey 
protocol for determining presence or probable absence of Indiana bats 
at cave portals or abandoned mines that could serve as hibernacula. Our 
goal is to incorporate comments and finalize the draft survey protocol 
in time to be included in the approved Indiana Bat Recovery Plan. The 
draft survey protocol, with instructions for commenting, is available 
on the Internet (see ADDRESSES).

Public Comments Solicited

    The Service solicits written comments on the recovery plan and the 
draft survey protocol. All comments received by the date specified will 
be considered prior to approval of the plan. Written comments and 
materials regarding the draft recovery plan should be addressed to the 
Field Supervisor (see ADDRESSES). Comments and materials received about 
the draft recovery plan will be available by appointment for public 
inspection during normal business hours at the above address. For 
information on commenting on the draft survey protocol, see ADDRESSES.

    Authority: The authority for this action is section 4(f) of the 
Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 1533(f).

    Dated: April 4, 2007.
Lynn Lewis,
Deputy Assistant Regional Director, Ecological Services, Region 3, Fort 
Snelling, Minnesota.
[FR Doc. 07-1866 Filed 4-13-07; 8:45 am]