Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, June 21, 2018

Contact: Rachael Curran, (727) 537-0802, rcurran@biologicaldiversity.org

Lawsuit Launched to Protect Critical Habitat for Florida Bonneted Bat

Bat Vulnerable to Sea-level Rise, Habitat Destruction

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— The Center for Biological Diversity, Tropical Audubon Society, and North American Butterfly Association Chapter of South Florida Inc. filed a formal notice today of their intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to designate lifesaving “critical habitat” for the aptly named Florida bonneted bat, which has large ears that fold skin over its eyes like a bonnet.

Pesticide use and development brought the Florida bonneted bat to near extinction, and now sea-level rise caused by climate change may be the final nail in the coffin. In 2013, these bats finally received endangered status under the federal Endangered Species Act, but they still don’t have the habitat protections they need.  

“With the smallest range of any bat in North America, the Florida bonneted bat needs its remaining habitat protected to have any chance at survival,” said Rachael Curran, a Center attorney based in Florida. “There’s no way to save endangered species without protecting the places they live. This is especially true for these beleaguered bats.”

Florida bonneted bats roost in old tree cavities and artificial structures, and forage for insects over open spaces like wetlands and open fresh water. There are 26 known colonies of bats located in 11 different roost sites in South Florida. With just 1 foot of sea-level rise, four of these roost sites will be inundated. Up to 6 feet of sea-level rise are expected by the end of this century, and nine roost sites are expected to be inundated.

Protection of critical habitat for the Florida bonneted bat will require anyone conducting a federally funded or permitted project in the bat’s designated critical habitat to consult with the Service to ensure that the habitat would not be “adversely modified,” i.e., damaged.

According to a Center study, species with federally protected critical habitat are more than twice as likely to be moving toward recovery as species without it.

Learn more about our campaign to save the Florida bonneted bat.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

www.biologicaldiversity.org

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