I find The Buffalo News article, “Nursing home races to fell trees before threatened bats miss them” to be disturbing, and one wonders if the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, regulatory authorities on the federal and state levels, have done their due diligence on behalf of a federally threatened species.
For a species to be designated “federally threatened” requires sound scientific evaluation.
Under the 1973 federal Endangered Species Act, a federally threatened species has been found to be ecologically imperiled and vulnerable, and in danger of becoming “federally endangered,” the most precarious designation under the ESA.
Once designated a federally threatened species, state and federal authorities are to work to prevent the species’ existence from becoming increasingly precarious, to protect the species where it currently exists and to provide opportunity to recover through species management.
Bat species provide ecological value and benefit.
Seven acres of trees proposed for removal by Brothers of Mercy are “near a habitat for the northern long-eared bat.” The proximity of the bat habitat to the seven-acre tract is known to the NYDEC.
That the trees are “not a known habitat” for the bat species should elicit a priority response from NYDEC and USFWS to determine if the seven acres are a previously undisclosed element of northern long-eared bat habitat.
“Strict regulations govern what can be done in or near” the bat species habitat. Instead, advice was to hurry and remove the trees according to some questionable timing guideline.
Female, northern long-eared bats gather into maternity colonies in the spring months, often in tree hollows, or under loose tree bark.
Due diligence requires that if northern long-eared bats are using the trees, especially for maternity colonies and reproduction, those trees require protection, not removal.
To investigate critical habitat elements for listed species when in question is due diligence. Lacking appropriate field research and finding answers would be regulatory negligence.
Wayne H. Schacher