Pennsylvania Field Office
Northeast Region
News and Highlights

 

Screenshot of PACE website
PACE Login Screen

January 17, 2020: Changes to Pennsylvania Conservation Explorer Tool

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) routinely reviews the best available information and updates the Pennsylvania Conservation Explorer (PACE) Tool to help users across the State assess impacts to federally listed threatened and endangered species from their proposed activities. In January 2020, several updates were made concerning the federally endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) and threatened bog turtle (Clemmys muhlenbergii).

Indiana bat

White-nose syndrome is estimated to have killed millions of bats across North America. The Service leads a broad, multi-agency effort to fight white-nose syndrome, pulling together scientists, biologists and others to study the disease, how it spreads and infects bats, and what can be done to control it. Researchers are looking into and testing treatments to improve bat survival and boost resistance to the disease. Biennial surveys of Pennsylvania’s Indiana bat hibernacula by the Pennsylvania Game Commission indicate that the number of hibernating Indiana bats in Pennsylvania has drastically declined due to white-nose syndrome. Therefore, conservation measures will primarily focus on avoiding impacts to Indiana bat hibernacula, hibernacula entrances (e.g., cave and mine openings), and supporting habitats within close proximity to the hibernacula. There is evidence that Indiana bats hibernating in other states continue to return to Pennsylvania in the spring to raise their young; consequently, we are not proposing changes to the PACE tool within known maternity habitat. The Service will continue to evaluate the best available information and should population numbers change (i.e., increase or decrease), PACE will be updated accordingly.

Bog turtle

Poaching for the pet trade and habitat loss are major risks for the bog turtle. Until recently, project screening in PACE operated at the County-level where bog turtles are known to occur. However, a computer-based model was recently developed that accounts for hydrology, soils, etc, and has been used to refine the bog turtle range. PACE users will continue to see the County-based bog turtle range (so as not to increase the risk of poaching), however, PACE responses will be based on the refined bog turtle range. The change also results in the removal of a note on some PACE project review receipts advising that bog turtle habitat be considered when applying for certain general permits.

The Service expects the refined ranges for Indiana bat and bog turtle will result in fewer potential conflicts with bog turtles and Indiana bats, by focusing conservation efforts in areas with the most important habitats for both species.



Photo of Chesapeake Logperch
Monarch (Danaus plexippus), Credit: USFWS, Rick McCorkle

December 2019: PennDOT Gives Pollinators a Helping Hand 

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) in conjunction with the PA Field Office has developed a Voluntary Pre-listing Pollinator Conservation Program (Program) in accordance with the Service’s Policy Regarding Voluntary Pre-Listing Conservation Actions (Fish and Wildlife Service Manual at Part 735 (5/31/2918). The {Program has been designed to benefit pollinator species that are being considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act, including the yellow-banded bumble bee; and the monarch, regal fritillary, and frosted elfin butterflies.

The Program is a voluntary, non-regulatory, pro-active conservation effort, developed with the hope of preventing these pollinator species from requiring federal protection under the Endangered Species Act. PennDOT through proposed conservation actions and revision of operations described in the Program can accrue advanced credits to offset impacts to pollinators in the event that they are listed, while at the same time, provide conservation measures to improve or restore habitat for pollinator in DOT-owned lands such as right-of-ways, visitor centers, and auxiliary properties. The Program operates with oversight by the multi-agency Pollinator Working Group. The Program is the first of its kind in the nation.

 

Link to the Pre-lising Pollinator Program Document Here




Photo of Chesapeake Logperch
Chesapeake Logperch (Percina bimaculata), Credit: Rob Criswell

November 20, 2019: Chesapeake Logperch Inspires Collaborative Conservation Initiative

After 130 years of being lumped together with the common logperch, the Chesapeake logperch became its own species in 2008 after genetic analysis indicated its distinction. This 4 inch fish relies on rocky river bottoms for its daily activities, often flipping pebbles with its snout to search for food or burying its eggs after spawning. Historically, the Chesapeake logperch was found in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, but now is only found in tributaries to the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay; and limited areas of the Susquehanna Mainstem, in Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Listed as threatened in Pennsylvania and Maryland, “Chessies” face threats from declines in water quality and pollution due to erosion, PCBs, and agricultural run-off like pesticides, nutrients, and sediments. Habitat degradation from development, fragmentation, and vegetation removal also affect this species. The logperch also faces competition and predation by introduced and invasive species such as zebra mussels, flathead catfish, banded and greenside darters, and snakehead fish.

The Service is working to proactively conserve existing Chesapeake logperch populations with crucial state and local partners, like the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC), who have developed action plans for logperch conservation. The PFBC, together with the MDNR, Susquehanna River Basin Commission, and Penn State; in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is leading the charge on the State’s multi-year conservation initiative for the Chesapeake logperch, through funding made possible by a Competitive State Wildlife Grant. The Partnership is spearheading the implementation of a conservation strategy in PA and MD to recover the Chesapeake logperch in the lower Susquehanna River watershed to preclude this species from being listed under the Endangered Species Act. Stream bank stabilization, erosion and pollution control are currently underway to preserve Chesapeake Logperch habitat, while State and Federal biologists continue to research and learn more about the species, their life history, habitat preferences, food preferences and other biological factors. Partners have begun implementing captive-rearing and reintroduction of this fish to locations within its historic range.

See Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Website for additional species info

For More Information on the Project - Check out this YouTube Video




Informative sign at Songbird Sanctuary
A sign on a walking trail at Songbird Sanctuary, Credit: Marley Parish MPARISH@CENTREDAILY.COM

July 15, 2019: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partner's Program is Partnering for Pollinators!

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service's Partners For Fish and Wildlife program has teamed up with Ferguson Township, Centre County, PA to improve habitat for pollinators at two Centre County parks. Restoration, including seeding, has already begun at Haymarket Park, and the newly named Songbird Sanctuary, both located off Blue Course Drive in State College.  See the link to the Centre Daily Times article below for more information.

The Partners program is designed for use on privately owned (non-federal) lands, providing landowners with technical and financial assistance to restore fish and wildlife habitats.  If you are interested in becoming a program partner in Pennsylvania, please contact: Mark Roberts, Supervisory Fish and Wildlife Biologist 814-234-4090 Mark_Roberts@fws.gov

 

Centre Daily Times - Changes are ahead for 2 Centre County parks.  How you can help decide what's next.

 

 


Rusty-Patched Bumblebee on Flower
Federally Endangered Rusty-Patched Bumblebee (Bombus affinis). Credit: Tony Ernst Creative Commons

June 17 - June 23, 2019: Welcome to Pollinator Week!!

Have you thanked a pollinator recently?  Did you know that one out of every three bites of food we eat is thanks to an animal pollinator?  Yummy apples, cherries, cucumbers, coffee, and most importantly...chocolate...all depend upon animal pollination!

Show your thanks to animal pollinators like bumblebees, butterflies, beetles, birds and bats by planting native plants, minimizing use of pesticides, and spreading the word to friends and neighbors.  By supporting pollinator habitat, you are also contributing to an all around healthy ecosystem that better supports clean air, water and soil. See below for links to additional information.

How to Build a Pollinator Garden in Seven Simple Steps

If Pollinators Had Dating Profiles - learn about some of North America's pollinators

Help Butterflies and Moths by Becoming a Citizen Scientist! 

Beer Anyone? - Scientists in Florida Created a Beer inspired by the Frosted Elfin Butterfly

 


Piping Plover on beach
Piping Plovers nest in open, sparcely vegetated sand or gravel beaches. Credit: USFWS

September 4, 2019: The Endangered Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) has found a home at Pennsylvania's Presque Isle State Park for the third year in a row!  Mary Birdsong, shorebird monitor for Erie Bird Observancy, first observed the male on April 15th. Giving piping plovers their space is crucial, and visitors can help the plovers and other shorebirds by keeping pets leashed, leaving nothing behind but footprints, and observing park rules, which includes keeping out of closed areas. For more information on piping plovers, please see the PA Game Commission links below.

Pennsylvania Game Commission September Press Release

Pennsylvania Game Commission July Press Release

Pennsylvania Game Commission May Facebook Post

More information on Great Lakes Piping Plovers

 


Missouri Population of Eastern Hellbender Proposed for Endangered Status 

Other populations in decline but not currently warranting Endangered Species Act protection

April 3, 2019: After conducting a thorough species status review, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that most populations of the eastern hellbender are not in danger of extinction and do not warrant listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). However, the eastern hellbender population in Missouri is a distinct population segment (DPS) and the Service is proposing to list this DPS as endangered.

News release
Eastern hellbender website
Federal Register notice
Blog: Hell-bent on conservation


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Duke Energy Release Bat Conservation Plan for North Allegheny Wind Facility in Pennsylvania

November 28, 2018: As renewable energy continues to develop across the northeast, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with industry to reduce the effects of utility-scale wind turbines on threatened and endangered wildlife.

North Allegheny Wind, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Duke Energy Renewables, Inc., has prepared a habitat conservation plan at its North Allegheny Wind 35-turbine wind facility in Blair and Cambria counties for the long-term conservation of the endangered Indiana bat. The Service has reviewed the plan and completed an environmental assessment. Both documents and the permit application are available for public review for 30 days.

News release
Project map 

Notice of Availability

Draft Environmental Assessment
Draft EA - Appendix A
Draft EA - Appendix B
Draft EA - Appendix C
Draft EA - Appendix D
Draft EA - Appendix E
Draft EA - Appendix F
Draft EA - Appendix G
Draft EA - Appendix H

Habitat Conservation Plan
HCP - Appendix A
HCP - Appendix B
HCP - Appendix C
HCP - Appendix D
HCP - Appendix E


 

Indian Caverns
PGC and USFWS Biologists conduct a survey of Indian Caverns, January 2018. Credit: USFWS

February 14, 2018: Pennsylvania’s Indiana Bat Conservation Fund (IBCF) supported the recent acquisition of a natural limestone cave system in central Pennsylvania (popularly known as Indian Caverns). Indian Caverns is a historic Indiana bat hibernaculum that has been in commercial use since the 1920s. The cave contains numerous passageways with chambers up to 40 feet wide and 60 feet high and abundant ceiling substrate available for use by hibernating bats. Many of the dripstone and flowstone formations are still active and growing. The acquisition of Indian Caverns includes 13 acres of surrounding forest and over 1,200 linear feet of frontage along Spruce Creek, a nationally renowned catch and release trophy trout stream fishery. The property was acquired by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy using funds from the IBCF and additional funding support from the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC), Richard King Mellon Foundation and Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. Pennsylvania’s IBCF will be also be used to fund the restoration of Indian Caverns, planned for summer 2018.  Based on the proximity of Indian Caverns to other extant bat hibernacula, Indian Caverns has high restoration potential and a likelihood of attracting white-nose syndrome (WNS) survivors. To date, the IBCF has been used to fund the installation of bat-friendly gates at five hibernacula and has protected over 2,100 acres of habitat.

Western Pennsylvania Conservancy Press Release

More information on Indiana Bats

 



Kate Harms of Rodale Institute with bat boxes. Credit: Kate Harms/Rodale Institute

Bats and Farmers: Allies in The Fight Against Agricultural Pests

October 13, 2017: Farmers might want to take note of the role bats can play in the pest control business.  Kate Harms of the Rodale Institute is conducting research on the importance of bats as biological pest controls in several agricultural operations in Pennsylvania.  Kate's project uses bat call detectors to identify locations of bat activity. The study also aims to understand the bats' use of boxes for roosting and breeding in agricultural settings.  Kate notes that past researchers have looked at bat guano and found that agricultural pests like stink bugs, leaf hoppers, and moths make up a large part of the bats’ diet - good news for those trying to control those pesky insects.  Need pest control at home?  For more information on attracting bats, and bat boxes see the links below.

USFWS interview with Kate Harms of Rodale Institute

Bat Conservation International - Bat Houses

Bat House Plans and Tips

 


Myotis bechsteinii
Bechstein's Bat (Myotis bechsteinii). Credit: Sam Dyer Ecology

Bat to the Future

September 12, 2017: White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a devastating disease, killing nearly 5.8 million bats in eastern North America since its discovery in 2006.  With the help of a 100 Year old bat specimen, housed at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., scientists may have unraveled the mystery behind white-nose syndrome.  A specimen of Bechstein's bat (Myotis bechsteinii), collected from Centre-Val de Loire, France in 1918, contains the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans which is responsible for WNS. The presence of WNS in a century old bat may provide evidence of an evolutionary adaptation, which could shine a light on this debilitating disease.

More information on White-nose syndrome

USFWS Full Article Bat to the Future

White-nose Syndrome Fungus in a 1918 Bat Specimen from France


Hibernating Indiana bats (<em>Myotis sodalis</em>)
Hibernating Indiana bats (Myotis sodalis).
Credit: Ann Froschauer/USFWS

Oil, gas companies seek Endangered Species Act permit

July 25, 2018: A coalition of nine oil and gas companies is developing an HCP to cover midstream and upstream oil and gas exploration, production, and maintenance activities in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia over a 50- year period. The Coalition has indicated that it intends to request ITP coverage for five bat species: the endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis), the threatened northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis), the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus), the eastern small-footed bat (Myotis leibii), and the tricolored bat (Perimyotis subflavus). The Service is working with the Coalition on development of the HCP. For more information, contact Pamela Shellenberger in our Pennsylvania Field Office at pamela_shellenberger@fws.gov.

News release

Read More


northern long-eared bat
Northern long-eared bat. Credit: USFWS

Pennsylvania State Agencies Develop Habitat Conservation Plan

July 25, 2018: The Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) are developing an HCP for Indiana and northern long-eared bats to support a section 10 permit application for forest management-related activities on 1.4 million acres of PGC State Game Lands, 2.2 million acres of DCNR State Forests, and 295,000 acres of DCNR State Parks. In 2018, the PGC and DCNR were awarded another section 6 grant to fund the final phase of the HCP and environmental impact statement (EIS). In March 2018, the Service received a final draft of the HCP. The Service expects to make a permit issuance decision in 2018. For more information, contact Pamela Shellenberger in our Pennsylvania Field Office at pamela_shellenberger@fws.gov.


Agency and industry to develop bat conservation plan at North Allegheny wind facility in Pennsylvania

July 25, 2018: Duke Energy North Alleghany Wind HCP (PA) -- The Service has received an incidental take permit application from North Allegheny Wind, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Duke Energy Renewables, Inc., who owns and operates the North Allegheny Wind Facility, for take of Indiana bats (Myotis sodalis) resulting from operation of its 35-turbine wind facility in Blair and Cambria Counties, Pennsylvania. The Service has developed an environmental assessment (EA) for the project and expects to publish in the Federal Register a Notice of Availability of the HCP and EA for public comment this summer. For more information, contact Melinda Turner in our Pennsylvania Field Office at melinda_turner@fws.gov.


Project map 


healthy Indiana bat
Healthy Indiana bat. Credit: USFWS

Range-wide Indiana Bat Summer Survey Guidelines have been updated for 2017

May 9, 2017: In 2011, the USFWS developed a multi-agency team to determine whether improvements could be made to the 2007 Indiana Bat Mist-Net Protocols. The team included members of the four USFWS regions (Midwest, Northeast, Southeast, and Southwest) where Indiana bats are known to occur, representatives of state natural resource agencies from three of those four regions (Midwest, Northeast, and Southeast), and representatives from three federal agencies (U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Department of Defense, and U.S. Forest Service). We obtained informal peer review of the draft guidelines in February 2012, gathered additional information in 2012, and made a revised version available for public comment in 2013 [78 FR 1879, January 9, 2013, and 78 FR 9409, February 8, 2013]. The USFWS implemented revised guidance in 2014. The USGS conducted independent testing of automated acoustic software programs during the winter of 2014-15 and the USFWS made some additional revisions to the guidelines in 2015, 2016, and 2017.  This Summer Survey Guidance can also be used for northern long-eared bat presence/probable absence surveys.

The objectives of Indiana bat summer survey guidelines are to (1) standardize range-wide survey procedures; (2) maximize the potential for detection/capture of Indiana bats at a minimum acceptable level of effort;(3) make accurate presence/absence determinations; and (4) aid in conservation efforts for the species by identifying areas where the species is present.

2017 Indiana Bat Summer Survey Guidelines


Eastern massasaugas
Rusty patched bumble bee. Credit: Christy Stewart

In a race against extinction, rusty patched bumble bee is listed as endangered

January 10, 2017: Just 20 years ago, the rusty patched bumble bee was a common sight, so ordinary that it went almost unnoticed as it moved from flower to flower, collecting nectar and pollen. But the species, now balancing precariously on the brink of extinction, has become the first-ever bumble bee in the United States -- and the first bee of any kind in the contiguous 48 states -- to be declared endangered.

Read more


Eastern massasaugas
In the Northeast, eastern massasaugas are found in New York and Pennsylvania. Credit: Mike Redmer/USFWS

Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake Listed as Threatened Under the Endangered Species Act

October 28, 2016: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the eastern massasauga rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus) as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. We also determined that designating critical habitat for the eastern massasauga is not prudent. The final rule to list the eastern massasauga as threatened published in the Federal Register on Sept. 30, 2016.

More information


A crane fills geocells resembling a honeycomb over geotextile on a steep embankment of the Wissahickon.
A crane fills geocells resembling a honeycomb over geotextile on a steep embankment of the Wissahickon. Soil was later placed over the geotextile and geocells and seeded. Credit: EPA, Region 3

Transforming an Asbestos Waste Site into a Wildlife Haven

February 19, 2016: A former asbestos waste dump in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, is on its way to becoming an urban haven for wildlife and wildlife viewers. With fields strewn with native grasses and wildflowers and an 11-acre pond, the BoRit Asbestos Superfund Site now welcomes migratory birds and other wildlife thanks to the cooperative efforts of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), Wissahickon Waterfowl Preserve, and Whitpain Township.

Read more

 

 


Last updated: January 17, 2020