For Immediate Release, January 13, 2016
Contact: Tanya Sanerib, (503)544-8512, email@example.com
New Rule Allows Logging, Oil and Gas Drilling, Other Damaging Activities in
Habitat of Threatened Northern Long-eared Bat
Feds Authorize Destruction of Key Bat Habitat
WASHINGTON— Forest-clearing by loggers, developers and the energy industry that is normally prohibited under the Endangered Species Act will be allowed in the habitat of the threatened northern long-eared bat, under a final rule for the bat issued today by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Although the deadly disease known as white-nose syndrome is the primary cause of the species’ decline, ongoing forest loss and conversion continues to be a serious threat to the bat, which prefers to roost in larger, continuous tracts of mature forest.
“These bats have already been pushed to the brink of extinction by white-nose syndrome, with 96 percent population declines, and the disease continues to spread,” said Tanya Sanerib, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “If these poor bats are to have any chance at survival, they need the full protection of the Endangered Species Act, not handouts to industry.”
The rule allows logging and land-clearing to occur anywhere other than within 150 feet of where the bats are known to summer — called a roost tree — or within a quarter-mile of a known hibernacula, where the bats hibernate. This means most forestry, pesticide use, oil, gas and wind energy developments, pipelines and any other land-clearing can proceed. Such activities are normally prohibited under the Act.
“The new rule does a much better job of protecting industry profits than bats,” said Sanerib. “It will almost certainly result in more dead bats by allowing the destruction of habitat they need when coming out of hibernation or are pregnant in the summer. It’s the last thing they need after being devastated by disease.”
The northern long-eared bat was first proposed for “endangered” status in 2014, but then downgraded to “threatened” last April, a change that allowed the Fish and Wildlife Service to provide the vast exemptions requested by industry. In issuing the rule today, the Service ignored the recommendations of its own scientists and bowed to the wishes of the oil and gas industry and other special interests opposed to protection of the bat. Republicans in Congress introduced at least seven federal riders and bills in 2015 attempting to further undermine protections for the bat.
“Like other rules issued by the agency in recent years, the bat rule perverts a provision of the Endangered Species Act intended to help keep threatened species from becoming endangered in order to authorize activities that are clearly harmful to the species,” said Sanerib. “This rule fails to follow the science or the law and demonstrates what happens when politics are allowed to guide protection decisions.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 990,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.