U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today introduced a bill to prevent the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) from listing the northern long-eared bat under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
In 2011, the FWS reached a secret sue-and-settle agreement with two radical environmental groups to require listing determinations on more than 250 species across the United States, including the northern long-eared bat. These bats are dying at alarming rates in parts of the country due to the spread of white-nose syndrome. While this syndrome has been found in 22 states across the country, it has not been found in South Dakota. Despite the lack of evidence suggesting white nose syndrome is a problem in our state, the FWS has proposed limiting forest management in the Black Hills to preserve the long-eared bats’ habitat.
“Limiting forest management practices due to listing the long-eared bat as endangered is not only reckless, but it is irresponsible,” said Thune. “I’ve worked closely with members of the Black Hills community in drafting the legislation. These forest management restrictions would not only be devastating to forest health and combating the pine beetle epidemic, but would also jeopardize the more than 1,500 timber industry jobs and $119 million in revenue to local Black Hills economies. I will continue working to halt this misguided endangered species listing, and hope my colleagues in the Senate will join me in supporting this legislation.”
On October 14, 2014, Thune sent a letter to the FWS with Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) encouraging the agency to withdraw its proposed listing of the northern long-eared bat as endangered and to refocus its attention on combating white-nose syndrome. Thune followed-up on his concerns with a January 14 letter to the FWS that he send along with 12 of his Senate colleagues calling on the FWS to revise the misguided and harmful forest management restrictions accompanying the endangered species listing released in 2014, and instead issue a regulation to allow normal forest management practices and minimize economic impact on states.