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** Archived Article - please check for current information. **

June 29, 2011

Federal review finds endangered species protection may be warranted for two S.C. bat species

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced June 28 that the Eastern small-footed and northern long-eared bats, both found in the South Carolina mountains, 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.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will initiate a more thorough status review for both bats to determine whether these species should be added to the federal list of endangered and threatened wildlife.

The Eastern small-footed bat occurs from eastern Canada and New England south to Alabama and Georgia and west to Oklahoma. Eastern small-footed bats are believed to be rare throughout their range, although they are more common in the northern than in the southern United States.

The northern long-eared bat occurs across much of the eastern and north-central United States and across all Canadian provinces west to the southern Northwest Territories and eastern British Columbia, although the species is variably distributed and rarely found in large numbers.

South Carolina represents the southeastern-most extent of the ranges of these two bats.

On January 21, 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service received a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity requesting that the two species of bats be listed as threatened or endangered and that critical habitat be designated under the Endangered Species Act.

The continued existence of one or both of these species may be threatened by several factors, including habitat destruction and degradation, disturbance of hibernation areas and maternity roosts, and impacts related to white-nose syndrome, a deadly disease that that has killed more than 1 million cave-hibernating bats since its discovery in 2006. Existing regulations of these activities may be inadequate to protect the two species.
The June 28 decision, commonly known as a 90-day petition finding, is based on scientific and commercial information about the species provided in the petition requesting protection of the species under the Endangered Species Act. The petition finding does not mean that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has decided it is appropriate to protect the Eastern small-footed and northern long-eared bats under the Endangered Species Act. Rather, this finding is the first step in a process that triggers a more thorough review of all the biological information available. The finding will be published in the Federal Register on June 29.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is particularly looking for information on distribution, status, population size or trends; life history; and threats to these bat species.

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