The Fish and Wildlife Service has decided to list the Northern long-eared bat as threatened with a 4(d) rule.
Said FWS in the rule: "[N]o other threat is as severe and immediate to the northern longeared bat’s persistence as the disease, white-nose syndrome (WNS).... WNS is currently the predominant threat to the species, and if WNS had not emerged or was not affecting the northern long-eared bat populations to the level that it has, we presume the species’ would not be experiencing the dramatic declines that it has since WNS emerged."
"Seven species of North American hibernating bats have been confirmed with WNS to
date: big brown bat, gray bat, eastern small-footed bat, little brown bat, northern long-eared bat,
Indiana bat, and tricolored bat. The effect of WNS appears to vary greatly by species, with
several species exhibiting high mortality and others showing low or no appreciable population-level effects (Turner et al. 2011, p. 13). The fungus that causes WNS has been detected on five additional species, but with no evidence of the infection characteristic of the disease; these include Rafinesque’s big-eared bat (Corynorhinus rafinesquii), Virginia big-eared bat (C. townsendii virginianus), silver-haired bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans), eastern red bat (Lasiurus borealis), and southeastern bat (Myotis austroriparius).
"The impacts of WNS on North American bat populations have been substantial. Service and State biologists estimate that at least 5.7 million to 6.7 million bats of several species have died from WNS (Service 2012, p. 1). Dzal et al. (2011, p. 393) documented a 78 percent decline in the summer activity of little brown bats in New York State, coinciding with the arrival and spread of WNS, suggesting large-scale population effects. Turner et al. (2011, p. 22) reported an 88 percent decline in the number of all hibernating bats at 42 sites across New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia. Furthermore, Frick et al. (2010a, p. 681) concluded that the little brown bat, formerly the most common bat in the northeastern United States, is undergoing catastrophic declines in the region due to WNS, and is at risk of regional extirpation in the near future. Similarly, Thogmartin et al. (2013, p. 171) predicted that WNS is likely to extirpate the federally endangered Indiana bat over large parts of its range. While recent models by Ingersoll et al. (2013, p. 8) have raised some questions about the status of bat populations prior to the arrival of WNS, the empirical evidence from surveys of six species of hibernating bats in New York State, revealed populations that were likely stable or increasing prior to the emergence of WNS (Service 2011, p. 1). Subsequent to the emergence of WNS, decreases in some species of bats at affected hibernacula have ranged from 30 to 100 percent (Frick et al. 2010a, p. 680; Turner et al. 2011, pp. 16–19, 22)."
Changes from proposed rule (which would have listed bat as endangered)
(1) Based on our analyses of the potential threats to the species, we have determined that the northern long-eared bat does not meet the definition of an endangered species, contrary to our proposed rule published on October 2, 2013 (78 FR 61046).
(2) Based on our analyses, we have determined that the species meets the definition of a threatened species. Therefore, on the effective date of this final listing rule, the species will be listed as a threatened species in the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife at 50 CFR 17.11(h).
(3) We have further refined the estimated timeframe during which Pd (the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome) is expected to spread throughout the range of the northern long-eared bat.
(4) We have expanded the discussion of white-nose syndrome and the effects of whitenose syndrome on the northern long-eared bat under Factor C.
(5) We have included additional (most recent available) survey data for the species in the Distribution and Relative Abundance section.