Six-Month Extension and Re-opening Comment Period on the Proposal to List Northern Long-eared Bat as Endangered

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced a six-month extension on the final listing determination for the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) and a reopening of the public comment period on the proposed rule to list the bat as endangered.

“We are taking this action based on substantial disagreement regarding the sufficiency and accuracy of the available data relevant to our determination regarding the proposed listing.”

“We have received many comments that offer different interpretations of our data and question our interpretation of the data. Commenters have questioned our analysis of the northern long-eared bat’s population levels and trends, our projection of the rate that white-nose syndrome may spread and the threat posed by white-nose syndrome to this bat.”

Once published in the Federal Register, the six month extension opens a 60-day public comment period to allow opportunity for agencies, groups and interested people to comment on the proposal and provide us with new information. While such an extension is not used often, it is a legal part of the rulemaking process under section 4(6)(B)(i) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Congressman Nolan, at the urging of the ACLT, submitted a strongly worded letter to the Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service directing them to “consider the unintended but severe economic impact of an abrupt halt in forest management practices and summertime timber harvesting” as part of their evaluation and proposals regarding the Northern Long Eared Bat status.

Editors Note: The push back has obviously succeeded temporarily, but it must be noted that the delay to April 2015 really does not remove the threat to the timber industry because the issue of concern would be the restrictions on logging activities that would occur between April and October. If they had listed the bat as originally scheduled in November of this year, those activity restrictions periods would not have gone into effect until April of 2015 anyway. By delaying the listing until April 2015, it does not delay any potential summer time implementation of the period of restrictions. It does give some more time gather additional information and hopefully persuade the U.S. Fish and Wildlife NOT to list the Northern Long Eared Bat.