Threat of bat endangerment may put plans for pipeline on hold

February 26th, 2015

Threat of bat endangerment may put plans for pipeline on hold

Other than the fact that bats may help reduce the amount of bug bites you have in your backyard at night, there’s nothing too significant about them. Or is there?

Northern Long-Eared bats are one of the most impacted species of white-nose syndrome, according to U.S Fish & Wildlife Service Endangered Species website. The species has been listed endangered since October 2, 2013. White-nose syndrome is a disease that affects hibernating bats with a white fungus that appears on their muzzle and other parts of their body.

Since the first documented case of the disease in the winter of 2006-2007 in New York, the disease has spread rapidly across eastern United States, and Canada, according to white-nose syndrome website. The disease has killed more than an estimate of 5.7 million bats and 90-100 percent of the hibernacula have died.

This listing of endangerment threatens to stop plans for a new pipeline in the Midwest. This adds to the ongoing list of controversy between animal protection and industrial progress.

The proposed pipeline would be run through the northern long-ear bat’s habitat currently ruined with the mentioned disease. As of January15, 2015, the U.S FWS have proposed a special rule regarding the particular species to be listed as threatened in order to lessen the regulatory burden on the public, according to the news release for the rule on the FWS website.

Taking into consideration that in spring, the bats migrate from the hibernation caves to the forest to roost in the trees, following with the expecting mothers giving birth. While the mother hunts at night, the newborns stay in the trees until they are able to fly.

The pipeline plan would then have to take down some of the trees, the bats call home in spring. Thus if the FWS declared the long-eared endangered or threatened, then plans would be halted to configure a route for the pipeline that will not further damage the declining population from white-nose disease.

The company responsible for the pipeline even launched its own study to examine the habitat, changed its route, but also found something else. They argue that the bats in question are more common than the FWS thought as the nets set out for study caught more long-eared than others. Thus, where their argument of abundance comes from.

The question then becomes, do the bats still need protection after this finding from the company?

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