USFWS Proposes to List the Tricolored Bat as Endangered, Citing Wind Energy-Related Impacts

September 19, 2022

On September 14, 2022, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) published a proposed rule to list the tricolored bat as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Notably, the USFWS declined to propose to designate critical habitat for the species after finding such a designation would not be prudent.

The tricolored bat’s range includes some or all of 39 states, including eastern Colorado, eastern New Mexico, eastern Wyoming, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas:

Source: USFWS Environmental Conservation Online System.

During the winter, tricolored bats are often found in caves, abandoned mines, and road-associated culverts. During the remainder of the year, tricolored bats mainly are found in forested habitats but may also be found in Spanish moss, pine trees, and occasionally human structures.

The USFWS’s listing proposal followed several years of inactivity by the agency regarding the species. In 2016, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a petition requesting that the USFWS list the species as threatened or endangered. In 2017, the USFWS published a 90-day finding that the petition presented substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing may be warranted. Since then, the USFWS had not taken any action on the petition. In the proposed rule, the USFWS specified that the proposed rule also serves as the 12-month finding on the listing petition.

The USFWS identified white-nosed syndrome, a disease caused by a fungal pathogen affecting bats, as the principal threat to the species. The USFWS, however, identified wind energy-related mortality as a “consequential stressor” to the species at local and regional levels. The USFWS also identified habitat loss and climate change as impacting the tricolored bat.

In the proposed rule, the USFWS declined to designate critical habitat. The USFWS found this designation not to be prudent because the species is not principally threatened by human activity and because a critical habitat designation would not benefit the species.

The USFWS is accepting comments on the proposed listing until November 14, 2022. On October 12, 2022, the UFWS will hold an informational meeting from 6 to 7:30 pm (ET) and a public hearing from 7:30 to 8:30 pm (ET).

The ESA requires the FWS to publish one of the following by September 14, 2023: a final rule listing the tricolored bat; a notice withdrawing the proposed rule; or a notice that the USFWS requires an additional six months to either publish a final rule or withdraw the proposed rule.

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