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July 12, 2011 8:15 am

Two more bats up for endangered listing

Written by Gib Mathers

Two more bat species are being considered for Endangered Species listing, due in part to white nose syndrome. That could point to the possible future listing of the little brown bat, Wyoming’s most widespread membranous winged mammal.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced June 28 the eastern small-footed and northern long-eared bats may warrant federal protection as threatened or endangered species, following an initial review of a petition seeking to protect the species under the Endangered Species Act, said a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service news release.

Eastern small-footed bats are not indigenous to Wyoming, but there are some northern long-eared bats in the Cowboy State. Both species are the same genus as little brown bats, said Ann Froschauer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service national white-nose syndrome communications leader.

White nose syndrome hits hibernating bats such as eastern small-footed, northern long-eared and little brown bats. Little brown bats populations have been decimated in the East by WNS, Froschauer said. 

“We will consider similar steps for little brown and other bats affected by white nose syndrome,” Froschauer said. “From what we’ve seen in the East,” Froschauer said, “there is no doubt that these guys are in trouble.”

The disease, which has killed more than 1 million bats in eastern United States, has not been documented in Wyoming, Froschauer said.

White nose syndrome is not the only reason for potential listing. Information in the petition and in the service’s files indicate the continued existence of eastern small-footed and northern long-eared bats may be threatened by other factors, including habitat destruction and degradation, disturbance of hibernation areas and maternity roosts, the release said.

The petition finding does not mean the Fish and Wildlife has decided to protect the eastern small-footed and northern long-eared bats under the Endangered Species Act, the news release said. Rather, the petition is the first step to initiate a more thorough review of all the biological information available.

Froschauer said the perception that Fish and Wildlife wants to list every animal is a misconception. Placing an animal on the Endangered Species List is a costly and time-consuming procedure.

“We don’t take the listing process lightly by any means,” he said.

For more information on the possible listing, go to www.fws.gov/whitenosesyndrome.

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