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USFWS reviewing status of northern long-eared bat
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently reviewing the federal listing status of the northern long-eared bat (NLEB) under section 4 of the Endangered Species Act, according to Wende Mahaney, of the USFWS Maine field office. Such a review of a listed species’ status is required by the ESA to take place every five years.
“Coincidentally, earlier this year the Fish and Wildlife Service lost a lawsuit regarding the 2015 listing of this species,” Mahaney wrote in an email, “and the judge required us to review our listing decision for the NLEB (the plaintiffs argued that the species should have been listed as endangered). The NLEB remains listed as threatened with a 4(d) rule while our status review is ongoing.”
We are currently collecting data and other information related to the NLEB and two other bats species, the little brown bat and the tri-colored bat. We will compile this information into a single Species Status Assessment for all three bat species. This SSA will provide the scientific foundation for the Fish and Wildlife Service to make a listing decision for all three species (does not warrant listing, warrants listing as threatened or warrants listing as endangered). We expect to complete the SSA in the summer of 2021, with the separate listing decisions for each species to follow.
While the status review is ongoing for the NLEB, there will be no changes in Maine – including for private landowners – in how this species is treated under the ESA. The existing 4(d) rule for the species provides broad authorization for take of NLEB related to a variety of activities in Maine, including timber harvest, in the vast majority of circumstances. There are no Habitat Conservation Plans for the northern long-eared bat in Maine, and we are not aware of any plans to develop an HCP.
The ongoing status review could result in three outcomes:
The species does not warrant listing and is removed from protection under the ESA,
The species remains listed as a threatened species, or
The species is re-listed as an endangered species. If the NLEB is listed as endangered, the 4(d) rule will no longer be in effect (only threatened species are eligible for 4(d) rules).