Light the Bat Signal!
Northern Long-Eared Bat Up in the Air

Northern long-eared bat

In filings dated January 28, 2020, the U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, found that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFWS) listing of the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) was arbitrary and capricious and remanded the listing decision of “threatened.”  This will require that the USFWS re-list the bat, which could have some serious implications for projects throughout its range, including Virginia and Maryland.

The court decision, while not vacating the listing of “threatened,” does required the USFWS to make a new listing decision that is consistent with the court findings that the cumulative effect of white nose syndrome plus habitat loss could necessitate a listing of endangered.  This could result in these possibilities:

  • The bat could be relisted as “threatened” but without the current 4(d) rule that allowed many projects requiring tree clearing to continue operating without the need for surveys or time of year restrictions on clearing.
  • The bat could be relisted as “endangered” which would not only remove the possibility of a 4(d) rule, but likely result in much greater restrictions on activities that could take place in its habitat.

While a timeline has not been implemented for re-listing, we do expect the USFWS to comply with the court order in a timely fashion.  WSSI will continue to monitor this situation as more details become available and a new listing is proposed.

If you have any questions, please contact Ben Rosner in our Gainesville, Virginia office, Bob Kerr in our Virginia Beach, Virginia office, or Mike Klebasko in our Millersville, Maryland office.


  • Ben Rosner

    Gainesville, VA