Northern long-eared bat with white nose syndrome. (Photo courtesy U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Steve Taylor, University of Illinois)
by Steve Kallesser, Division chair
Recently, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) finalized its listing of the northern long-eared bat (NLEB) as threatened, and the 4(d) rule that accompanies the listing. Under the 4(d) rule, forestry activities within 1/4 mile of a known NLEB hibernaculum are in danger of running afoul of “incidental take” issues, as would cutting of a known maternity roost tree or other trees within 150 foot radius from the maternity roost tree during June and July. The next logical question is: how would a forester know where NLEB hibernacula and maternity roost trees are located without having USFWS divulge that sensitive information?
During a recent conversation with Jeremy Markuson, of the USFWS New Jersey Field Office, he suggested using the USFWS’ Information Planning and Conservation System (IPaC) as an initial screen. (In fact, using IPaC is required for Forest Stewardship Plans.) IPaC will provide a list of federally listed species that may occur within the property, including NLEB. After searching IPaC, additional information can be garnered from a bat municipality list that is provided on the New Jersey Field Office website. Should either of those sources suggest that NLEB hibernacula or maternity roost trees occur nearby, Mr. Markuson would be willing to review individual property locations and inform foresters if their forestry plan is following the 4(d) rule. That request should include the latitude and longitude (in decimal degrees format) of a point of interest on the property in question. For quality control purposes, I suggest including the block and lot number, or at least the name of the municipality, in case you have a typo in your lat/lon.
Keep in mind that this is merely an initial screening step and it does not remove any other obligations for consultation that may exist for other federally listed species, such as Indiana bat. However, it does seem like a very reasonable way to protect and conserve NLEB sensitive habitat. In the near future Natural Heritage Database reports will tell foresters if the property is within these sensitive areas.
The IPaC system can be accessed by clicking here: https://ecos.fws.gov/ipac/
The municipal bat list can be found here:
New Jersey Field Office Website: http://www.fws.gov/northeast/njfieldoffice/endangered/consultation.htm
Mr. Markuson can be contacted here: Jeremy_markuson@fws.gov