Monday, August 18, 2014

Forests and Bats: Why All the Fuss?

I saw this article written by our friends at the University of Minnesota Extension and thought I would share it with my readers.  It provides a great overview of the connection between bats and forests.  With the proposed listing of the northern long-eared bat as federally endangered this is timely information.

The Allegheny, New York, and New England units of the Society of American Foresters (SAF) provided comments to the US Fish and Wildlife Service on the proposed listing of the northern long-eared bat as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.  The organizations, as local units of SAF, represent over 2,300 professional foresters across the states of West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Maine.  To view and read the letter click here.

There is also a You-Tube video produced by Aitkin County Minnesota Land Department entitled "Bat-Friendly Forestry" that you may be interested in watching.  It provides some good insight into the kinds of things you can do when implementing a timber sale to protect bats and bat habitat.

The northern long-eared bat: why all the fuss?
By Jodie Provost, Minnesota DNR Private Land Habitat Coordinator

You may have heard mention of the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) in the news lately. Last October, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to list it as an endangered species under the federal Endangered Species Act due to a dramatic decline in its population.

Decline or loss of the northern long-eared bat is a concern. All native species have essential niches or jobs they fill in our ecosystems. For example, bats eat up to half their weight in insects each night. Recent studies estimate that bats deliver $6 billion in insect control services to agriculture, forest industries and the public each year!

Federal listing could potentially restrict summer forest management since removal of trees used as summer maternity roosts would be prohibited. Land development activities involving tree removal, such as development for transportation, utilities, mining, and parks, could also be restricted.

The recent population decline of northern long-eared bats is caused by an outbreak of white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease first observed in New York State in 2006 that has spread rapidly from eastern North America westward. The disease is expected to spread throughout the range of northern long-eared bats which includes much of eastern and north-central United States, and most of Canada. In Minnesota, long-eared bats occur in both summer and winter, have been found in many caves and mines, although typically in low numbers, and are currently designated as a species of special concern.

The northern long-eared bat is about three to four inches long with a nine to ten inch wing span. Its fur is medium to dark brown on the back and tawny to pale-brown on the underside. As its name suggests, it is distinguished by its long ears, relative to other bats in its genus, Myotis, which means mouse-eared. Winter is typically spent in cracks & crevices of caves and mines, called hibernacula, which have constant temperatures, high humidity and no air currents. In summer, the bats roost under bark and in crevices and cavities of live or dead trees. Males and non-reproductive females may also roost in cooler places, like caves and mines.

To read the rest of the article click here.

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