Last week FRA learned that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) intends to initiate a 12-month study of the tri-colored bat in order to decide whether this species needs to be listed pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The action follows a 90-day review period of a petition filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Defenders of Wildlife arguing that listing the tricolored bat may be warranted under the ESA. The tri-colored bat, like the northern long-eared bat (NLEB), continues to suffer population declines due to White Nose Syndrome (WNS). You will recall that FRA worked hard to achieve a generally favorable outcome on the NLEB, whereby the bat was listed as “threatened”—not “endangered”—with an accompanying 4d rule that allowed existing forest practices in the NLEB’s 39 state range to continue. A challenge has been brought by the Center for Biological Diversity on this listing and FRA is party to an action defending the Fish and Wildlife Service.
But the path forward on the tricolored remains uncertain. Like the NLEB, the tri-colored has a broad range—spanning the Midwest all the way to the Atlantic—essentially half the country. An endangered listing with prescriptive land management directives would certainly be problematic for the forest products value chain. We will be engaging on this issue and working with our forestry and forest products industry association allies as this process unfolds and will keep you apprised of our progress.