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|Issue Brief: Long Eared Bat|
Background & Update
The northern long-eared bat is found in the United States from Maine to North Carolina on the Atlantic Coast, westward to eastern Oklahoma and north through the Dakotas, even reaching into eastern Montana and Wyoming. In Canada it is found from the Atlantic Coast westward to the southern Yukon Territory and eastern British Columbia.
White-nose syndrome is a disease affecting hibernating bats. Named for the white fungus that appears on the nose and other parts of hibernating bats, WNS is associated with extensive mortality of bats in eastern North America. First documented in New York in the winter of 2006-2007, WNS has spread rapidly across the eastern United States and Canada, and the fungus that causes WNS has been detected as far south as Mississippi. While timber and logging activities do not directly or indirectly spread the disease, efforts to save the bat are adversely affecting industry.
The listing of the Northern Long Eared Bat as ‘threatened’ under the Endangered Species Act and subsequent interim (4)D Rule adversely affect the lumber industry and supply.
The northern long-eared bat is one of the species of bats most impacted by the disease white-nose syndrome. Due to massive declines caused by white-nose syndrome as well as continued spread of the disease, the northern long-eared bat received protection as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) proposed the northern long-eared bat as endangered in October 2013. During review of the threats, USFWS determined the northern long-eared bat meets the Endangered Species Act’s definition of threatened. Under the Act, a threatened species is likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future, while an endangered species is currently in danger of becoming extinct. In addition to announcing the threatened designation, FWS also issued an interim 4(d) rule outlining conservation guidelines. These guidelines do provide some regulatory exclusions for the forest products industry, although there are concerns among industry members that they will still negatively impact those in the lumber industry to efficiently harvest timber from public and private lands for economic and environmental benefits.
The interim 4(d) rule allows certain activities that are considered a conservation benefit to northern long-eared bats as long as these activities:
These conservation measures are designed to protect bats when they are most vulnerable, including when they occupy hibernacula and during the two-month pup-rearing season from June through July. The greatest potential restrictions would be during these months, with reduced restrictions at all other times. Activities that are allowed when the above listed measures are followed include:
NWPCA signed on to a coalition, August 29, 2014, Public Comment, “RE: Final Determination on the Proposed Endangered Status for the Northern Long-Eared Bat, 78 Fed.Reg. 61046 (October 2, 2013). There were approximately 50 associations co-signing the letter. On September 9, 2015, NWPCA participated with the National Hardwood Federation for their Capitol Hill Fly-In advocating on restraint when implementing the (4)D Rule.
NWPCA is concerned that the FWS will issue a final decision on the interim 4(d) rule, expected in December 2015, that will roll back some of the positive aspects of the current rule and implement more stringent and detrimental guidance. We advocate that the NLEB be de-listed as ‘threatened’.
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