A New Hampshire bat species is now on the threatened list under the Federal Endangered Species Act. The Northern Long-Eared Bat is one of several species that has been devastated by the invasive fungus, white-nose syndrome.
Originally, the federal regulators had announced they would seek endangered status for the Long-Eared bat, but while White Nose Syndrome has all but wiped out this bat in New England, the bat did not merit an endangered listing because the fungus has only reached the Mid-West so far. Currently, white nose has been detected in 28 of the 37 states in the bats range.
“While the species is likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future, it is not at the present time on the brink of extinction,” says Tony Sullins, the mid-west chief of endangered species for the US Fish and Wildlife Service, noting there are still millions of the animals in states unaffected by white nose.
Listing a species as threatened means that any trafficking, injuring or killing of that animal becomes prohibited, but unlike endangered species, some exemptions can be carved out.
In the case of the Northern Long-Eared Bat, logging and expansion of rights of way for transportation or utility construction got an exemption, as long as the activities avoided any known caves or trees occupied by the bats. Wind farms did not receive an exemption.
White-nose syndrome was first introduced to the US in New York State in 2007, and in some caves in New Hampshire biologists found that 99 percent of overwintering bats were killed by the disease.
Related: Check out the graphic below to find out what white-nose syndrome is, how far it is spreading, and why it is such a concern for animal conservationists.