Politics Plays Role in USFWS Northern Long-Eared Bat Decision

A number of bills have been introduced in the 114th Congress that would undermine animal welfare; many of them take aim directly at endangered species (such as wolves), or at the Endangered Species Act itself, through efforts to weaken it and inappropriately inject Congress into the decision-making process for listing species—a job for scientists, not politicians. Several of these bills have been introduced before and public pressure has succeeded in keeping them from progressing. The fight, however, continues.

One particularly ominous action some members of the House and Senate have taken is to persuade the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) not to list the northern long-eared bat as endangered. The northern long-eared bat’s population has been decimated by white-nose syndrome, a fungus that has caused the deaths of nearly 6 million bats of several species across the country since 2006. AWI joined other conservation groups in urging the USFWS to proceed with the endangered listing, and critiquing the conservation plan the agency proposed if it lists the bat as threatened rather than endangered. We asked Congress not to encumber in any way an endangered listing for the northern long-eared bat.

Unfortunately, the congressional interference worked. The USFWS chose to ignore the science supporting an endangered listing and, on April 1, announced that it would only designate this bat as threatened.