The 2015 listing of the northern long-eared bat as “threatened” rather than “endangered” by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has been rejected by U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The January 28 decision by the Court, came as the result of a legal challenge by the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, Coal River Mountain Watch and Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition.
The bat, whose habitat includes the central Appalachian Mountains, was listed as threatened despite the fact that it has declined in its core range by over 90% since 2006, when the fungal disease known as white-nose syndrome began killing hibernating bats by the millions. In rejecting the agency’s decision, the judge found that FWS had failed to explain why the species was not endangered after suffering catastrophic declines as a result of white-nose syndrome. The judge also found FWS failed to consider the cumulative effects of habitat destruction against that grim backdrop.
The decision could impact future infrastructure developments in the habitat region of the bat. It is not yet known whether the FWS will appeal the decision. For more, click here.