Fish And Wildlife Service Urged To Speed Protection For Bats

Thursday, August 28, 2014
Two dozen conservation and animal-welfare groups sent a letter today urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to complete its plan to protect the northern long-eared bat, a species found primarily in the eastern and midwestern United States. Opposition to the bat’s protection under the Endangered Species Act — from timber, mining and energy industries as well as several state natural-resource agency officials — prompted the Fish and Wildlife Service to postpone a final decision on protecting the bat until spring 2015.


“There’s no scientifically valid reason to delay protecting the northern long-eared bat. There are only political reasons,” said Mollie Matteson, a senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “White-nose syndrome has already killed 98 percent of northern long-eared bats in their core range, and the disease keeps spreading. These animals are already highly endangered, and if we don’t take action right now to help them, they’ll soon be extinct.”

White-nose syndrome is an exotic fungal disease that first showed up in North American hibernating bats in 2006. It is estimated to have killed nearly seven million bats, and has affected seven different species. From its epicenter in upstate New York, the disease has spread to bats in 25 states. It is the primary threat to northern long-eared bats, which are also threatened by habitat loss through logging, environmental toxins, and human disturbance of bat colonies. Insect-eating bats such as the northern long-eared help keep populations of farm crop and timber pests in check, and are estimated to provide $22 billion worth of pest control services to agriculture annually.

In 2010 the Center petitioned the Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the northern long-eared bat and eastern small-footed bat under the Endangered Species Act. In October of last year the agency proposed that the northern long-eared bat be designated as endangered. It was scheduled to finalize that proposal in October, but in the face of intensifying criticism from industry groups and several state natural-resource agencies in the upper Midwest, the Service announced earlier this summer it would delay the final decision until April 2015.

"With so few left, every individual bat is vital," said Nancy Blaney, senior policy advisor with the Animal Welfare Institute. "Every delay in protection for this bat means that it will be in worse shape by the time the government finally does what is clearly necessary — to list this bat under the ESA and get down to the work of safeguarding it from all actions that jeopardize its continued existence."

Some opponents of federal protection for northern long-eared bats contend that since logging, mining and other threats are not the primary causes of the bat’s decline, those activities should be exempt from Endangered Species Act prohibitions that would prevent them from harming the animal. However, an endangered listing would require planning and mitigation measures to address even incidental harm, such as that caused by a national forest offering a timber sale in a place where northern long-eared bats may be hurt by logging. Listing the bat under the Act would also provide tools to ensure the species' conservation in the United States.

Signers of the letter, sent to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Fish and Wildlife Service director Dan Ashe, include national organizations such as the Center for Biological Diversity and Animal Welfare Institute, as well local grassroots groups based in states ranging from Maine to South Dakota.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 775,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.


Defendant In False Bear Attack Case Pleads Guilty

The defendant charged with filing a false report after he told authorities an animal attacked him last September pleaded guilty in Campbell County Criminal Court this month.   Michael Savage, 28, of LaFollette, claimed he was walking along Demory Road in LaFollette in the early morning hours of  Sept. 4,  when he was attacked by an animal with dark coarse ... (click for more)

Cleveland Receives 24th Tree City USA Award

Cleveland has received its 24th Tree City U.S.A. award. The National Arbor Day Foundation recognizes Tree Cities annually. The local ceremony took place  Tuesday  beside the greenway at 20th and Keith streets. Mayor Tom Rowland pointed out cities must meet the foundation's criteria to receive the distinction. Taking part in the ceremony were members of the Cleveland ... (click for more)

Dewayne Ray Burns Wanted After Firing Shots At Fort Oglethorpe Police Officers

Dewayne Ray Burns is wanted after police in North Georgia were led on a chase, and he fired shots at officers. Burns fired shots in their direction late Thursday night. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Fort Oglethorpe Police Department are investigating the incident. According to park rangers on the scene, the Burns ran away, while firing shots in the direction ... (click for more)

5 Considered For Cleveland City Manager Position

Five names were selected  Friday  by a citizens advisory committee to send to the Cleveland City Council for consideration as the next Cleveland city manager. The five are Angie Carrier, Joe Fivas, Mark Reeter, Seth Sumner and Julie Underwood. The list is being sent in alphabetical order so no one has an advantage when the city council considers the candidates. ... (click for more)

Jill Levine Is An Educational Rock Star

No one has covered the Hamilton County Department of Education drama better than Roy Exum.  Thank you, Roy, but I take issue with your unnamed sources.  Professional jealousy and sour grape darts should not be anonymous.   HCDE is so dysfunctional, and there is good cause to place this public organization under a microscope, dissect it into pieces and discard all ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Settle It With A Vote

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, which I consider a pretty good authority on what words really mean, defines “freedom” in this way:  “The quality or state of being free: such as, (a) the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action; (b) liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another; (c) independence -- the quality or state of being exempt ... (click for more)