White nose syndrome (WNS), a lethal fungal infection affecting hibernating bats, has raged throughout the eastern United States and Canada since first being documented in 2006.
This infection has greatly decreased bat populations in North America and has the potential to cause the extinction of several species. Bats already face severe conservation pressures from habitat destruction and other human disturbances. The outbreak of WNS could push many species past the point of no return.
The Fish and Wildlife Service has the power to protect these bats from extinction. Encourage them to do the right thing by taking immediate action today.
Please urge FWS to move forward with its proposal to list the northern long-eared bat as endangered throughout its range and to reconsider its decision not to list the eastern small-footed bat under the ESA.
Many North American bat species have been devastated by the introduction of white-nose syndrome (WNS), which has already killed millions of bats and is continuing to spread unchecked. WNS has already caused a 99 percent population decline of the northern long-eared bat in the core part of its range in the eastern U.S. in only seven years. I urge you to move quickly to give the northern long-eared bat the strongest possible legal protections. I also request that you expedite designating critical habitat that the species needs to survive and recover.
I am also very concerned about the status of the eastern small-footed bat, which has also been significantly affected by WNS. Recent research has shown substantial declines in capture rates for the eastern small-footed bat from pre-WNS levels in both West Virginia and New Hampshire. I ask that you re-examine whether the best available scientific data shows that the eastern small-footed bat needs ESA protection as well.
Thank you for considering my comments.