3 new varieties of bats added to state endangered species list |

3 new varieties of bats added to state endangered species list

Mary Ann Thomas
Kevin Wenner | Pennsylvania Game Commission
Pennsylvania Game Commission biologist Greg Turner assesses the damage outside a mine in Lackawanna County, where numerous little brown bats lay dead from white-nose syndrome. (Pennsylvania Game Commission)

The state Board of Game Commissioners approved reclassifying the status of three types of cave bats from threatened to endangered, which is more protective of the species.

During their Tuesday meeting, the Commissioners granted endangered status protection to the little brown bat, northern long-eared bat and tri-colored bat and little brown bat, according to a state news serivce.

Cave dwelling bats, their populations have been nearly wiped out by white-nose syndrome, a disease caused by a fungus that attacks the mammals when they are hibernating in the winter.

There is no cure for white-nose syndrome, but the scientists from the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies continue to study the disease and its control.

The northern long-eared bat was listed as a federal threatened species in April 2015. In addition, tri-colored bats and little brown bats currently are being considered for protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, according to the Pennsylvania Environment Digest.

However, since the tri-colored and little brown bats currently are not federally listed, projects within 300 meters of known summer roost locations and winter hibernacula will require PGC consultation, according to the Digest.

“Sites that held these bats prior to the arrival of white-nose syndrome, but not since, won’t affect projects,” said Dan Brauning, PGC Wildlife Diversity Division supervisor

“That distinction alone immediately reduces the potential for conflicts (with projects) when you consider bats have lost upward of 97 percent of their historic populations in Pennsylvania,” Brauning told the Digest.

As a result of the state-endangered listing, about 30 hibernacula and 120 maternity sites known to support little brown and tri-colored bats will be added to Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory. The PNDI is part of a state review process to screen development and excavation projects for potential environmental conflicts.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary Ann at 724-226-4691, [email protected] or via Twitter @MaThomas_Trib.