Feds delay decision to place northern long-eared bat on endangered list


WASHINGTON — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday delayed for six-months making a final call on whether to place the northern long-eared bat on the endangered species list.

The federal agency had proposed last October to put the bat on the list but now want to gather more information about the species’ population and white-nose syndrome, a disease that has killed millions of bats and poses the greatest threat to the species.

As part of its review, Fish and Wildlife plans to reopen public comment for 60 days for additional input from states, tribes, federal agencies and others about the status of the northern long-eared bat and the impacts of white-nose syndrome on the species.

The forestry industry has complained that listing the long-eared bat as an endangered species would be harmful to them and could actually cause more harm to the bat population.

Arkansas Reps. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, Tom Cotton, R-Dardanelle, Tim Griffin, R-Little Rock, and Steve Womack, R-Rogers, issued a press statement thanking Fish and Wildlife for the six-month delay. They had sent a letter earlier this month requesting it.

“We’re pleased the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listened to our concerns and granted our request for a six month extension of the comment period,” they wrote. “An endangered species classification of the northern-long eared bat could have a devastating impact on several of Arkansas’s most important industries, and we must be sure to resolve all questions surrounding the designation. In the coming months, we will continue to work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to monitor this matter.”