“I’m disappointed by today’s announcement because the FWS’ approach does not focus on the real problem, which is that northern long-eared bat deaths are due to white-nose syndrome, not habitat loss,” said Thune. “This is why I recently introduced legislation that would prohibit FWS from listing the northern long-eared bat as threatened under the ESA.”
“This is another example of federal overreach by this Administration,” said Rounds. “I applaud Sen. Thune and Rep. Noem for being leaders on this issue and will continue to work with them to rectify this misguided decision.”
“While I am relieved to see South Dakota land outside the buffer zone for now, I remain concerned that the Fish and Wildlife Service continues to elevate an unproven environmental agenda rather keeping the focus on a disease that truly jeopardizes the long-eared bat’s population in certain areas of the county,” said Noem. “It’s a disappointing conclusion that will pull critical and limited resources from the real threats facing the species.”
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. While this syndrome has been found in 22 states across the country, it has not been found in South Dakota. Today’s listing was accompanied by an announcement of publication of an interim regulation with a 90-day public comment period under Section 4(d) of the ESA for the northern long-eared bat. This interim rule will be published in the Federal Register on April 2, 2015. Under the interim 4(d) rule, because the white-nose syndrome is not present in South Dakota, forest management restrictions are limited; however, if the white-nosed syndrome is detected in South Dakota, far-reaching timber management restrictions will be imposed on the Black Hills timber industry, impacting 1,500 jobs and $119 million in revenue to Black Hills economies.
On October 14, 2014, Thune and Noem sent a letter to the FWS 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. On January 14, Thune and 12 of his Senate colleagues called 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. On March 4, Thune introduced legislation to prevent the FWS from listing the northern long-eared bat under the ESA, and on March 24, Noem introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
The FWS has not listed a U.S. species as threatened or endangered with disease as a primary cause of widespread death loss for more than ten years. FWS acknowledges that the white-nose syndrome is the primary cause of devastating northern long-eared bat deaths.