Asheville Ecological Services Field Office
Conserving the Nature of America





Northern long-eared bat – what it means for your project

General information about the northern long-eared bat


(Note:This simply describes Northern long-eared bat protections under the Endangered Species Act. Please contact the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission to ensure compliance with any state wildlife laws.)

Background on Endangered Species Act and the Northern long-eared bat

In 2015, Northern long-eared bats were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), due to the impacts of white-nose syndrome, a disease which has killed millions of cave-hibernating bats.Because white-nose syndrome is the major threat, we chose not to apply broad protections across the bat’s entire range, focusing instead on locations and time periods especially important for the bat. Regardless of the legal protections afforded the Northern long-eared bat, we always encourage people to take proactive steps to conserve bats whenever possible.

Endangered Species Act protections for the Northern long-eared bat

The ESA protects threatened and endangered wildlife from “take,” which includes harming, harassing, or killing a listed species. However, the Service implemented a special rule under section 4(d) of the ESA providing flexibility to those working in northern long-eared bat habitat. Under the 4(d) rule:

All intentional take is prohibited, except:

  • • Defense of human life (includes for public health monitoring)
  • • Removal of hazardous trees for protection of human life and property
  • • Removal of bats from human structures (check with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission to ensure compliance with state wildlife laws)
  • • Limited research permit exemption through May 3, 2016

In western North Carolina, incidental take without a permit is prohibited:

  • • Within hibernation sites (includes disturbing or disrupting hibernating individuals and alternation of hibernation habitat, including cave or mine entrance, when bats are not present)
  • • Within ¼ mile of a known hibernation site
  • • Within a 150-foot radius of a known, occupied maternity roost during the pup season (June 1- July 31)

Western North Carolina areas where incidental take may be a special consideration

According to the Service's records, confirmed hibernation and maternity sites for this species occur in the counties listed/highlighted below. To learn if your project requires further consultation, click on the highlighted counties or select a county from the list below to see areas that may be subject to restrictions related to maternity and hibernation sites.

If your project is located entirely outside of the gray shaded areas and your project does not require prohibited intentional take (see above), then your project has met the criteria for the 4(d) rule, any associated take is therefore exempt, and it is not necessary to wait 30 days for the Service to object or concur.  Unless you or your agency has established a surrogate consultation procedure with the Service, please complete this consultation form (pdf, 66 KB) and submit it to the Asheville Field Office, 160 Zillicoa St., Asheville, NC 28801, or via email to

The consultation form is not necessary if an action agency determines that a proposed action will have no effect on the Northern long-eared bat. Providing this information does not address section 7(a)(2) compliance for any other listed species. For questions about ESA permits or Northern long-eared bats in western North Carolina, contact the Asheville Field Office at 828/258-3939.

Click on a county for more county-specific maps


Map of Northern long-eared bat counties in western North Carolina Cherokee County Clay County Macon County Jackson County Swain County Haywood County Henderons County Rutherford County McDowell County Yancey County Avery County

Click on a county name for more information

(Red HUC maps for those following U.S. Army Corps of Engineers guidance)



For GIS users - download shapefiles of areas with confirmed hibernation and maternity sites (last updated September 4, 2018)


Taking extra steps to help the Northern long-eared bat

Beyond the requirements of the Endangered Species Act, we heartily encourage pro-active conservation steps to help conserve this species:

  • • Prior to implementing a project, survey for northern long-eared bats. Such data allows us to better understand the bat’s habitat use and distribution, track its status, evaluate threats and impacts, and develop effective recovery actions.
  • • Remove trees outside the pup season (June 1 to July 31) and/or active season (April 1 to October 31) to reduce the chance of impacting unidentified maternity roosts
  • • Avoid clearing habitat within a 5-mile radius of hibernation sites when bats are emerging from or preparing for hibernation (April 1 to May 15 and August 15 to November 14, respectively).
  • • Manage forests to ensure a continual supply of snags and other suitable maternity roost trees.
  • • Conduct prescribed burns outside the pup season (June 1 to July 31) and/or the active season (April 1 to October 31), and avoid high-intensity burns.
  • • Perform bridge repair, retrofit, or maintenance outside the bat’s active season (April 1 to October 31) in areas where they are known to roost on bridges or where such use is likely.
  • • Minimize use of herbicides and pesticides. If necessary, spot treatment is preferred over aerial application.
  • • Minimize light pollution during the active season by angling lights downward or via other light minimization measures.


Note: Fish & Wildlife Service project planning and review is coordinated by the Asheville Field Office in the western half of North Carolina and by the Raleigh Field Office in the eastern half.

Map: Asheville and Raleigh Field Offices work areas. Credit: USFWS Link to Raleigh Field Office web site


The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission has developed a A Guidance Memorandum to Address and Mitigate Secondary and Cumulative Impacts to Aquatic and Terrestrial Wildlife Resources and Water Quality. The memorandum provides numerous recommendations to address the environmental impacts that may result from a project. We support this document and encourage you to use it.

Photo montage of biologists shocking for fish, a biologists studying a plant, and biologists recording mussel data. Photo credits: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service



Project planning and review contacts:

Address for all:
160 Zillicoa St.
Asheville, NC 28801

Projects involving the North Carolina Department of Transportation or Federal Highway Administration

Claire Ellwanger
office - 828/258-3939, ext. 42235
cell - 828/767-2899
Projects involving the North Carolina Department of Transportation or Federal Highway Administration

Projects involving the USDA (Forest Service, Rural Utilities Services, Farm Services, and Rural Development) National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Aviation Authority, Federal Transportation Administration or Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as mines and industrial parks

Byron Hamstead
office - 828/258-3939, ext. 42225

cell - 828/337-2726
Projects involving the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Bryan Tompkins
office - 828/257-3939, ext.42240
cell - 828 450-7586
Projects involving the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Tennessee Valley Authority, or Natural Resources Conservation Service



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Last Updated: June 7, 2016