Update: On January 25, 2023, USFWS announced that they are delaying the effective date of the final rule to reclassify the northern long-eared bat from threatened to endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The agency is extending the effective date from Jan. 30, 2023, to March 31, 2023. This extension allows USFWS additional time to finalize conservation tools and guidance.
On November 29, 2022, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced a final rule to reclassify the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) from threatened to endangered, under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This change in status, when final, will nullify the prior 4(d) rule that tailored protections for the species when it was listed as threatened and could necessitate additional conservation efforts. The final rule to reclassify the northern long-eared bat as endangered appears in the November 30, 2022, Federal Register. The rule becomes effective 60 days after publication, on January 30, 2023. The new ruling has the following effects that you should be aware of for projects with a federal nexus:
- The reclassification removes the USFWS 4(d) rule for the Northern Long-eared Bat, since 4(d) only applies to threatened species. Projects or programs that previously applied the USFWS 4(d) Rule Programmatic Biological Opinion (PBO) will need to reinitiate consultation to comply with section 7 of the ESA if construction will not be completed by January 30, 2023.
- Incidental take of the NLEB will be prohibited starting on January 30, 2023.
USFWS recommends a variety of approaches that are predicated by project type and activities. McCormick Taylor is prepared to provide recommendations for your project(s), guide you through these approaches, and assist with the Section 7 consultation process.
Several new tools are in development to assist project proponents through the consultation process once the change in status takes effect, including an interim consultation framework to help prevent delay for projects already reviewed under the prior 4(d) rule and an online determination key for automatic project concurrence for many activities.
McCormick Taylor provides a multi-disciplinary array of bat services within a variety of habitats including bridges and buildings, mine and cave openings, energy corridors, and wooded areas to fully meet clients’ needs. McCormick Taylor employs qualified biologists who have advanced degrees in bat ecology with extensive experience conducting assessments and surveys for Federally listed bats. If rare, threatened, or endangered (RTE) bats are identified, McCormick Taylor provides real-world and innovative solutions to align with project goals and schedules, in compliance with agency guidelines and expectations and protects the sensitive species and their habitat.
Contact our in-house bat biologist, Garrett Harris, for more information!