Volume 26, Number 1 ● February 1, 2018 CHANGE THIS DATE
Holy Tricolored Bat, Man!
Potential for Listing as Threatened or Endangered
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has issued findings for five species – including the tricolored bat (Perimyotis subflavus), one of the most common bat species native to the eastern United States. This finding suggests that the tricolored bat may soon be listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
If listed, this change could affect project developers across the Mid-Atlantic by requiring a bat survey on all projects that involve tree-clearing, and halting those projects until a survey can be performed to determine the presence or absence of the tricolored bat. Local developers may remember a similar circumstance a few years ago when the northern long-eared bat was listed as threatened under the ESA. While this issue was later resolved with the final 4(d) rule for the bat, the listing caused a significant period of uncertainty for many projects.
The USFWS has requested that interested parties submit any relevant information or scientific data that would assist the agency in determining whether the bat should be listed as either threatened or endangered due to habitat loss, disease, and other natural or manmade factors – but has not provided a timetable for completing their status determination. Comments regarding the FWS findings may be submitted at https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=FWS-R5-ES-2017-0011.
While the implications of the potential tricolored bat listing may not yet be clear, the bat does occupy similar habitat as the northern long-eared bat and is also suffering from the effects of white-nose syndrome. Because of these similarities, it is possible that USFWS may implement protections similar to those in place for the northern long-eared bat, depending on the final status determination. (See our March 2017 Field Notes article for more information about bat protective time of year restrictions.)