For Immediate Release, June 14, 2016
Endangered Species Act Protection Sought for Tricolored Bats
Bat’s Populations Have Plummeted With Spread of Deadly Fungal Disease
RICHMOND, Vt .— The Center for Biological Diversity and Defenders of Wildlife today petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the tricolored bat under the Endangered Species Act. Like several other North American bat species, the tricolored bat has declined dramatically over the past 10 years due to the fungal disease called white-nose syndrome and is at risk from cave disturbances, habitat loss and wind energy.
“The tricolored bat is in grave trouble, and it’s time the federal government took action to keep this species from tumbling off the cliff of extinction,” said Mollie Matteson, a senior scientist with the Center. “Among the three bats most devastated by white-nose syndrome, the tricolored bat has been virtually forgotten, but that can’t continue if this species is to survive.”
“The tricolored bat and other species of bats provide irreplaceable ecological and economic services. They protect human health from insect-borne diseases and protect crops from pest damage,” said Jane Davenport, senior staff attorney at Defenders of Wildlife. “The tricolored bat needs immediate, meaningful federal protections before it is too late.”
White-nose syndrome has caused mortality rates among tricolored bats of up to 98 percent in the Northeast, where the disease has been present the longest. Rangewide, scientists estimate that tricolored bats have declined by more than one-third in the past decade. But the tricolored bat has proven to take longer than other species to reach peak mortality, so a more severe rangewide decline can be expected in the future. Already, the deadly fungus — or the disease it causes — has reached 31 of the 36 states in the species’ range. Both the northern long-eared bat, which was protected under the Act last year, and the little brown bat, now under consideration for protection, have nearly disappeared across much of the eastern United States as the disease has spread.
Among the smallest bats in North America, the tricolored bat has yellowish-brown fur and a fluttery flight pattern that resembles that of moths. It hibernates in caves and mines in winter, but has characteristics unlike other hibernating bats. For example, in summer, it will sometimes roost in tree foliage, rather than tree cavities or under bark. It also gives birth to two bat pups in spring, rather than one. And, among hibernating bat species, it is the most susceptible to mortality from large wind turbines. Other bats found dead at wind energy sites are most frequently non-hibernating bats, sometimes known as migratory bats.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
Defenders of Wildlife is a national nonprofit conservation organization founded in 1947 focused on conserving and restoring native species and the habitats upon which they depend. Defenders has more than 1,200,000 members and supporters nationwide.