On November 29, 2022, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a final rule reclassifying the northern long-eared bat as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”). The northern long-eared bat was previously listed as threatened in 2015. There is concern that this bat faces extinction due to the impacts of white-nose syndrome, a deadly fungal disease affecting bats hibernating in caves across North America. This new final rule takes effect on January 30, 2023.
This new rule and the forthcoming rule implementation are expected to affect clearing activities on forested land. Before commencing development activities look for the northern long eared bat.
Details on implementation of this final rule are forthcoming. We anticipate that the presence of this bat will require additional federal approval when development activity needs a wetland permit or other federal governmental approved or permitting prior to removing trees. We anticipate implementation measures may include acoustic and mist-net surveys to determine the presence of the species and time of year restrictions on tree clearing. This may also expand to mirror the stated Indiana’s bat regulations. Currently, the acoustic bat survey window is May 15 to August 15.
Regulations and new tools from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are expected to continue to be released between now and January 30, 2023 on the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s website. Hirschler’s land use and zoning team is closely monitoring the development of this rule and its potential impact to projects in the region.