USFWS Hibernates on Bat Protection

The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has postponed its decision on listing the northern long-eared bat as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) until April 2015. The decision was originally due this past October (see Summer 2014 AWI Quarterly), but USFWS capitulated to objections from industry groups and several state natural resource agencies. AWI joined 23 other organizations in a letter to USFWS Director Dan Ashe and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell expressing disappointment in the delay and reiterating the reasons this species warrants protection. AWI and other groups also criticized a US House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee hearing held in September in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on the supposed “devastating economic impacts” of such a listing. The committee made no pretense of objectivity: Of eight witnesses, seven opposed the listing. Only one witness addressed the actual devastating economic impacts for the farming and forestry industries if nothing is done to recover this species that consumes so many "pest" insects. Unfortunately, this was one of a series of assaults on the ESA by this Congress, an assault we expect to continue into the next Congress.